Extranjeros: the Spanish word for foreigners which, oddly enough, especially when pronounced with a thick Argentinian accent, sounds like the English word, strange.
After an 11 hour flight, this was the word that marked our entrance into Argentina. “Extranjeros aquí:” two simple words which were printed in all white capital letters, with a footnoted sized explanation bellow. “Welcome to Argentina, just so you know, you’re a stranger here,” it seemed to be saying. Even without the translation, I knew what the words meant and of course that everything would be different once we left that airport. Gone was the small comfortable word of Holy Cross where everyone wears boat shoes and Vineyard Vines. In it’s place, was a terminal plastered with political ads and trees that looked crooked compared to HC’s upright Elms. It was as though literally everything was strange and different. Even the air felt different in my lungs.
After those 11 hours though, this “strangeness,” this new and totally different world, was something that I was willing to embrace. Okay, granted I probably could have used a few more hours of sleep, we all could have, but there was something in this strangeness that made us all alert. We each seemed to have that classic “Oh. My. God.” moment nonetheless. Forget the fact that there’s only 2 (maybe 3) hours of sleep in our systems, that’s irrelevant. This place, Argentina, is so new and different that we force ourselves to stay awake … even though at 4:07 AM there isn’t much you can see.
As we move onto our hotel and through the city, we learn just how “strange” everything here really is: the coffee is infinitely better than Kimball’s, the food consists mostly of different meats that we’ve never been served for breakfast before, you can’t turn a corner without the sight of something deeply political, everything is (not surprisingly) in Spanish and there’s a completely different culture. Our tour guide, Valeria, calls it a “mixture of New York City and France,” but it feels like something entirely its own. As we listened to the cries of protesters, walked through the church where Pope Francis was formerly the Archbishop, and sang “Lux Aeterna” in front of the grave of Eva Perona (Evita as most of us know her), none of us could deny the uniqueness of this experience. Like I said, there’s even something in the air that makes it all feel so movingly different. It’s like the blood of the city starts to run through your veins with each step you take. In an odd way, despite being an “Extranjero,” you can’t help but feel the heaviness of the city’s history and gasp at it’s beauty.
Yes, we may not be a part of this city in the way the natives are, and yes, it is all strangely new to us, but being a stranger and seeing all of this through our eyes is something beautifully positive. It’s a new experience for all of us and something so different from what we’re used to that none of us would dare to call this type of strange something negative. Now, as we wait for our 4:30 gig, where we have the chance to really meet and work with native musicians, we’ll all start off as strangers once again. But, much like our relationship to the city, as our time together continues, we’ll form a bond that regardless of how well we know each other will undoubtedly be beautiful in its newness.
– Julia Dunn, ’16