Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I have had more than my fair share of extra holidays or feriados as I have been wandering. When I was in Colombia, I got Colombian Independence Day (which is also my birthday), the Battle of Boyacá and the Assumption of Mary (yes, I am a Jew but I'll take the freebie).  In Argentina, I got some extra Catholic holidays too and one or two nice remembrances of Argentine victories and defeats.  The gift of an extra lazy day even if I had to do some work, since my stuff is all based in the states.

Yesterday, both in the US and Argentina (and in Colombia too), it was Columbus Day.  In Latin America, it is called “Race Day” because the natives hate Columbus for taking them out, which I totally get. At least here in Latin America, the native people weren’t decimated like they were in the US.

While some people in the states were working yesterday, people here take the term “holiday” much more seriously than those in the US. There’s no run on the malls, there is no going into the office. Instead of throngs of shoppers hitting the mall, there are throngs of families strolling the streets. Gone is the constant roar of the buses zooming by, dog walkers are sans their normal herds. It’s a day of freedom and relaxation as the parks are stuffed with people -- sunbathers in itsy bitsy bikins (yes, I did see one today and it’s only 65 degrees), mothers and daughters clustered together on benches facing the afternoon sun, a couple drinking a lazy coffee at a cafĂ©, sisters arm in arm sharing ice cream.

I walked in the afternoon sun to run a quick errand, but even I couldn’t move too quickly. Instead, I meandered the streets and for just a few minutes, I joined a city of nearly 16 million people taking the day off. Too bad I wasn’t one of them.

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