My family moved from New York City to a small town in Argentina. We are all learning so much more than if we had stayed in the city.
- I thought I'd never be able to leave the amazing resources living in New York City gave my family.
- Living in the country has taught me how to be more comfortable with not knowing what happens next.
The dogs are barking again — so ferociously I can't get any work done. I know why, too. Cows have broken into our yard again. I hear them mooing before I'm out the front door, almost 30 of them.
I stand strategically behind them and clap twice, sharp and loud. The noise startles them and they move away from me toward our front gate. I clap again. The herd picks up speed as they rush away from the jarring sound of my hands smacking together. Faster and faster until a stream of cows flows into the dirt road in front of our house. I shut the gate behind them.
This never happened when I lived in Brooklyn. But now it's part of our lives in San Lorenzo, the small cow town where I live in northwest Argentina.
My family of four moved to this remote town for many reasons, including not wanting to put our children through the stressful school system the city offers. But since then, I've learned there's so much more Argentina has to offer, even more than all the museums, bookstores, movie theaters, and art New York has.
I always wanted to garden
When I lived in New York, I dreamed of having an herb garden bursting with passion fruit flowers, basil, and fresh mint. Then I planted them in pots and hoped the sunny patches were enough to keep my plants alive, which was not always the case.
Now I have space for all the herbs I want as well as apple trees, cherimoya, and peaches. When we're finished eating, we scrape the remains into a pile outside so they can decompose back into the dirt.
I realized quickly that I'm a terrible gardener. The consistency of tending plants — weeding them, making sure they have enough water — moves at a pace my raised-in-the-city bones can't comprehend. But I'm learning.
I'm learning with my kids
I'm learning new languages, too. Not just Spanish, but the language of the "campo." I recognize the leaves of wild cherry tomatoes and golden squash blossoms that escape the compost heap. They sneak across the grass and end up everywhere. I'm starting to understand the unspoken language of the countryside and its changes.
I understand the movement of the seasons. When winter clouds are low at sunrise, expect a warm and sunny day. But if they're high and heavy, bring an extra sweater when you go out.
Springtime starts with the fireflies. My kids cup them between their palms and pretend the light burns their fingers. We lie on the grass to watch them flicker against a blanket of stars as the little insects fly away.
Foul-smelling rococo frogs whirr like car alarms in the summer as they mate and leave their foamy eggs in the creek down the hill. We scoop them into bowls and wait for thousands of tiny tadpoles to emerge. An alarming number of them die, but the few that survive to grow arms and legs, we release them back to the place where we found them.
It's strange living in two worlds. One is my life online, in English. It's where I write. The other in Spanish inspires my life with the soft sounds of living creatures, the fresh green after a heavy rain, and a sense of curiosity because I never know for sure what will happen next.
This is the endless magic of moving to a country where I'm an outsider with an accent. It's all that I love about travel — the discovery, the discomfort, the surprise of the new — but after so many years also with the comfort of home.
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