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A New Beginning in Argentina

Gillian experiences her first "forgata" in South America.

I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy several cultural (and, not to mention, free) events in Córdoba that have increased my love for this city. Some fellow interns and I went to El paseo de las artes on Sunday night to admire the Argentinean crafts and goods we might like to buy closer to the end of our trip. Passing through the endless maze of arts, listening to the music, eating traditional alfajores de maicena and cakes was a great way to begin the night.

Nearby, there was a dance outside in La Plaza de Intendencia. Traditional bachata music blared out of speakers while people took turns dancing. I really enjoyed the openness of the people here; it’s not often that you see a large group of people dancing, not caring about who is watching. As well, I myself go to learn a few steps of the bachata from some friendly locals who were kind of enough to teach me.

One of the standout moments of my experience here was witnessing La Noche de San Juan. A friend had told me that there was going to be a “fogata” near downtown and I went, thinking that I was going to a small gathering or fiesta. To my surprise, I arrived at an enormous group of people, huddled around a large bonfire. Large puppet figures were being carried through the crowd and joggled around while people played the guitar and sang.

However, the custom of this festival that really caught my attention was when everyone began to write down something on a piece of paper and throw it into the fire. I asked a local why they were burning the papers and he told me that they had written all of the negative things they wanted to get rid of in their lives and literally “vanquished” them so they could start anew.

This started to make more sense as I realized that night was the first day of winter in Argentina; to me the tradition was a tangible effort at finding a new beginning, a wish that resonates across all cultures and certainly spoke to me in that moment.

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Gillian Jose-Riz

Gillian Jose-Riz is a writer, an AIESECer and a commerce student at the University of Victoria. Her internship in Argentina will be her first time living outside of Victoria and away from her family, but she looks forward to the challenges and adventures!

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