Spring (Prima Vera) here, as anywhere, is a wonderfully bipolar time of year.
With it come the joys of rain and shine (all within the same few hours) and wind and sweat (also within the same few hours, even without outside forces such as exercise causing interference).
In South America (or at least Argentina), Spring also brings a blessing of holidays (as aforementioned).
The day I began this post was another holiday. I didn’t know what for. It was province holiday, so only for the province of Entre Rios. Of course I only know that because that’s what my schedule said. I suppose they have so many holidays that they lose track of which one is for what so they keep it simple: Feriado Provincial, Feriado Local, or even simply Feriado (Feriado is the equivalent of Holiday). Of course that’s not actually true. Maybe in time I’ll learn the real reason behind all of these holidays, but for now I’ll enjoy them!
Today is actually another holiday, and I took the time to look it up — it is a national holiday celebrating respect for cultural diversity. Love it!! Seriously, America, I hope you’ll be taking notes while I tell you about all the wonderful things you should pick up.
The day after we arrived here was one of the biggest holidays (finally one I actually knew about from actual people(!)). It was the National Day of Students. I advise every country to lobby for the adoption of this day. On this college campus, it is a day of fun and games and free food! And in traditional Latin American style, it starts at least one hour late.
I arrived at the back of the Galpon on time (*cues applause/mocking laughter, whichever it is for you*) to find two people there. They were busy setting some giant thing up. It was the only thing in the area, and it was in such a young stage of its growth that I couldn’t tell what it was.
I discreetly made my exit…
And came back an hour later.
It wasn’t much better–but now there were quite a few things set up! And the giant thing that earlier I hadn’t been able to make out had turned out to be a bouncy-house type thing. They had several of these types of things around–all set up for fútbol (soccer) or basketball. Additionally, there was a ping pong table and a few of the “early” arrivals were playing … head pong? I don’t know what else to call it, but it was amusing to watch two opposing teams/players bounce a GIANT tennis ball (bigger than one’s head) across a tiny ping pong table.
With their heads.
No wonder these people are so talented with fútbol — they incorporate it into everything they do.
Passing by this game, I found some other ACA students and observed several other games being set up/played. The whole entire party was behind the Galpon, in a giant soccer field with plenty of room on the sidelines and a smaller field closer to the Galpon. The fields are separated by a small hill and a row of trees growing along the hill. At the end of this hill/ trees there is another open area beside the giant soccer field. Here they had tiny, tiny tennis-like courts (okay, grass rectangle with a short net in the middle) set up.
As more students began arriving (in properly late latin-american style), we found out the purpose of these. I’ll bet you can guess what it was — more fútbol. When I say they incorporate fútbol into everything, I mean EVERYthing. The courts were probably 16 feet by 8 feet, with the net dividing each side into 8×8 boxes. One or two players per side, and the point was to pass the soccer ball back and forth over the net with only your feet (like proper fútbol rules). Basically the rules of volleyball, on a much smaller scale an with a soccer ball instead. These people have AMAZING control over their appendages.
Two hours after the festivities were supposed to have begun, they finally did: all the students gathered in the middle of the giant soccer field and were grouped into several different teams of about fifteen. Thus began a series of competitions between the teams of rather ridiculous, but hilariously fun and clumsy activities such as that which I didn’t get pictures of because I was a competitor… oops. I’m afraid attempting to explain the games would only result in more confusion, so I’ll try to get pictures for the next time something like this happens.
After the group games it was almost time for lunch, and already a thick snake of a line had slithered it’s way through the smaller field closest to the Galpon (where lunch was served). Nearby, a mechanical bull was set up, and we all enjoyed our lunch (of Argentine-style pizza[I’ll tell you about this sometime]) watching fellow students prove gravity’s existence, and the genius of the bull operator. Finally, a sport where I saw no fútbol influence–probably because this sport (as in America) is deeply embedded in the cultural heritage. An equal to fútbol? If 2=6739, then yes, equal, because that’s about how many people are excited about gauchos (cowboys) as to how many people are excited about fútbol. Plus, the two on the gaucho side are also included on the fútbol side. So, most definitely (not) equal.
All in all, the Feriado’s of Argentina are a delight to all and a bruise to others (but only from good game fun, of course), and a day to simply celebrate being alive, or something else if you want to talk about the parade from a few weeks ago for another Feriado. But, that’s a story for another day. For now, I’m off to Parana to celebrate the respect of cultural diversity!