From the way they make their coffee to the way they dry their clothes, everything moves slower here. In fact, people will look at you funny if you ask to get your coffee to go (I heard all of you gasping). To myself and many of the other students on the program this was a somewhat discomforting fact. Several of us have early classes–and anything before 10.00 is way too early to college students and porteños alike–and the idea that we would have to go sit down in a café or drink it at home before we left is taking some getting used to. To the porteños the idea that you don’t even have half an hour, or for a real porteño an over an hour, to enjoy your medialunas and cafe is bewildering.
I think I would feel safe saying the vast majority of people line dry their clothes and dryers are only for the upper-class elite, hotels, and laundromats. Sage, I will include this tidbit here for you since it falls along the same category: every home you walk into here uses CFLs (to the uninitiated, compact florescent lamps–Google it!). I like to think this outweighs the fact that recycling has yet to catch on in a big way here even though there are people who are called cartoneras who go through all the trash that’s put on the street for collection and separate out the paper because they can get money for it. Basically the equivalent of people in the States who push around grocery carts collecting glass bottles and aluminum cans (and if this is a horrible stereotype, forgive me) except they aren’t homeless and most are your run-of-the-mill, middle-class citizens trying to earn some extra cash flow.
I also like to think that the reason why you don’t see produce labeled as being ‘organic’ is because it all is organic and I’m probably more right about that than I think I am. In fact, as many of you know, in the States I drink only soy or rice milk and substitute gelato or sorbet for ice cream and can’t eat processed cheese because I’ve developed lactose intolerance? That was something that I was incredibly nervous about coming down here because I had no idea how my body was going to react. Especially after finding out that vegetarians are few and far between here I figured I was going to have a real difficult time. As it turns out, soy and/or rice milk are impossible to find and you’ll be lucky if people even know what you’re talking about when you inquire about it, but I have drank cafe con leche (coffee with milk) almost every single day since I have been here, I have eaten ice cream, and I have put milk in my scrambled eggs for breakfast and I have yet to have even the smallest stomach pain from it. If that doesn’t make you question what kinds of additives, hormones, and preservatives must be in our dairy products in the States then I don’t know what will.
I started this post wanting to talk mostly about the speed of life here in Buenos Aires but obviously I’ve deviated from that. There is a slow food movement that is starting to pick up in the United States, but it’s catching on… well, slowly. Even if you don’t ditch the coffee maker for a French press or sell your dryer for a line (though the Earth would appreciate it if you did), I highly recommend trying to slow your life down some. It’s so refreshing to come somewhere where time is not of the essence and showing up on time for a party or a meeting with friends is considered rude. Americans are always rushing to get somewhere or get something accomplished when, really, does it even matter? The world keeps turning…
“To live is so startling that it leaves little time for anything else.” — Emily Dickenson