As my time in Rosario comes to its imminent end next week, my days have somehow mysteriously gotten busier in the last few weeks, with schedules packing their ways back into my life. Maybe it’s knowing that my time here is finite, maybe it’s the realisation that I may never be back here again. Whatever the case is, I had been trying to do more with the same amount of time – taking more weekend trips, going for more tango classes and milongas (tango is such an amazing dance, but that’s for another day), meeting friends whom I have formed close connections with, hanging out more with the family and Juani, the adorable 5 year-old that I have formed a special connection with, chilling by Rio Panara and enjoying the autumn sun and breeze, and exploring as many cafés and bars as I could in my final attempt to be better acquainted with this city.
At the back of my mind, I kept telling myself that I have to explore more. And further. There is still so much to see and do. This is my only chance.
Until somewhere at the beginning of last week. I attended one of my last few Spanish classes with my teacher, Debi, and we talked about what I had done in this city so far. After our candid sharing, she said to me (in Spanish), “That’s great, and I am sure you have explored your very lovely neighbourhood. It’s my favourite neighbourhood in this city.”
Err, my neighbourhood?
I probably gave her the goofiest deer-in-headlight look that translated to ‘omg-I-actually-did-not” and she caught it immediately.
“Jane! I can’t believe you didn’t explore your neighbourhood!!! You have been staying there for 3 months! Arroyito is a beautiful neighbourhood!”
She was right. Absolutely right. At that point in time, I had been here for 3 months, had a mental checklist of the many places I need to go, yet totally neglected the surroundings I had been living in for the last 3 months. Maybe I saw it day-in day-out, when I woke up, and before I went to sleep. Maybe it always felt accessible and the proximity diluted my appreciation for it.
Somehow, we always carelessly neglect the things that are the closest in proximity to us. The beauty so near, yet often overlooked.
So I took a walk around my neighbourhood Arroyito one sunny late afternoon, and found myself surrounded by tranquillity, artistic expressions, charming European houses and pockets of interesting, independent mom-and-pop shops. I passed by a primary school and saw how excited the kids were playing in their checkered uniforms (blue for boys and pink for girls), then a secondary school where the uniforms were totally mangled – girls had the shortest skirts (we had all been through that hur) and boys had their shirts tucked out in hope of displaying more swag and style. Neighbours rode leisurely on bicycles, Cumbia blasted randomly from cars, people hung out in the park on a weekday afternoon reading books, shop keepers took time and listened to my badly spoken Spanglish, and gave me the assistance that I needed with incredible patience.
I felt rejuvenated by the afternoon I spent. Honestly, I didn’t realise my neighbourhood had so much to offer and I gained good insights into the lives of the people in just one afternoon. To think that I hadn’t paid attention to it simply because it is always there.
It reminded me of the many things I have taken for granted back home because they are always there for me – my parents’ unconditional love, the solid friendships I have with a tight knitted group of darlings, the neighbourhood I lived in that I honestly hardly know of, the food centres with the amazing $3 chap cai png that is impossible to find anywhere else, and all other things great and small.
Interestingly, it is always these seemingly inconsequential things that tug the heart’s strings when we reminisce what we miss.
Thank you Arroyito, for having and hosting me in the past 3.5 months. For the beautifully shady trees giving respite from the sun on the pavements, the peace and quietness, the zealous singing of praises and hymns from the church every Sunday, the (bad) Cumbia music blasting from the nearby gymnasium at 7pm every evening, the curious stares from inquisitive neighbours (nosotros tenemos una Chino en nuestro barrio!), amongst many other things.
More importantly, thank you for reminding me that beauty exists right at my doorstep, if I allow myself to see and experience it.
My heart is filled with gratitude.
Right outside my house
The quaint and quiet neighbourhood. Everyone is taking a siesta so there’s no one on the streets 🙂
Graffiti with wonderfully introspective messages
Football or futbol, is the way of life. Arroyito is the home to Rosario Central, and the Rosarinos are crazy passionate about their team (including Juani, the 5 year old I live with. He will wear the Central jersey everyday if he has a choice, sings the fan song every minute and plays futbol like a pro)