Things are very go-with-the-flow down here. Well, maybe not for everyone because often I think I’m the only one out of the loop, so its go with the flow for me. For example, yesterday I received a text from my boss asking me to meet him at his his house early the next morning and we would go to Wanda together. Wanda is a town about an hour away that has touristic mines to visit. We previously talked about the mines and so I assumed we were touring the mines for the day and did not probe any further. I found out the next morning on the bus that we were headed to a conference! Both in dress and research I was unprepared. I wore shorts and hiking boots, but more importantly I was not familiar with the NGOs that presented, or the topics (dams and their damage to the surrounding areas). Luckily, many of the attendees work in the jungle so they were casually dressed and it was not a very interactive occasion so no one noticed that I didn’t even know the word for dams in Spanish until half an hour in.
Due to my lack of research and not having taken science since grade 11 I did not understand a fair amount of the presentations. It also did not help that every time I furiously searched through my dictionary for a word, five more tricky words would pass and the context of the sentence would be lost. But, I did take a lot of notes, videos, and have a lot of websites to visit so from home I can learn what I missed.
After the conference, my boss travelled to another town to appear on a talk show (he’s kind of a big-journalist-deal down here) and so I had lunch with two members of la comunidad before taking our bus back to Iguazu. We joked about how little we all understood at the conference and wish we had been more prepared. After a bit more small talk, the conversation dwindled and we had only just ordered. I think I can hold a conversation with almost anyone for a decent amount of time but after a mentally exhausting day and with such cultural differences between us, I was lost. What felt like much too long after, a soccer game came on TV and I was relieved of the silence. Conversation began flowing and although I’ve heard that soccer is our universal sport, I had never truly seen the effects. I was sitting in a hole in the wall restaurant, in a town of maybe 1000, in South America, with two great people that had never heard of facebook, talking in what is both our second language, and yet had a nice, relaxed conversation about the last thing I would ever bring up at home.
The next interesting event happened while waiting for the bus. The station did not have a schedule nor was there someone to ask. “Necesitas paciencia” (you need to have patience), said Pato. I didn’t even realize I was being impatient, I thought I was just (maybe more than necessary) asking about the schedule. But he couldn’t have been more right. What was the hurry? I didn’t have anywhere to be, the weather was perfect, we had just ate, I had a bottle of water and sunscreen, and great company. Later in the day I thought about his comment for a while and even though it was just about a bus schedule, I need to apply this dutifully to all aspects of my life. I’m around here for a while, there’s no rush.