What Does America Smell Like?

The Casa Rosada from Yrigoyen Street, to the w...

The Casa Rosada from Yrigoyen Street, to the west. Note: Argentine Presidents do not normally live in the Casa Rosada – they avail themselves of an official residence in Olivos (north of Buenos Aires).

It’s hard to believe.  It’s been six months and two days since I heard the Stewardess tell us to put our tables in the upright position to get ready to land in Buenos Aires.

Life has been a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and colors.  Some familiar, but most new and strange.

Belgrano, the barrio where Ale and I live, is about five kilometers from the iconic Plaza de Mayo and Casa Rosada, two places where I spend alot of time shooting and watching people as they come and go and the crowds that protest in that green, brick and concrete expanse.

Our barrio is a leafy neighborhood, trees that are a couple of centuries old line the streets here and their canopies are a couple hundred feet in the air.  With much of the sunlight blocked out, there is almost a perpetual shade — even at high noon.

Belgrano is also home to 80% of the foreign embassies.  The German Embassy sits 3 blocks in one direction while the Vietnamese Embassy sits two blocks in the other.  Across the street from us is the Norwegian Embassy and the sight of diplomats getting into and out of their limousines is almost common place now.

I’m also becoming more use to Belgrano being almost a self contained barrio, as are many of the other 47 barrios in this city.

While America has a WalMart everywhere you turn and the supermarket is conveniently located down the main strip into town, here there is very much of an “old world” feel when it comes to shopping.

Instead of a one-stop-takes-care-of-everything, you get use quickly to the idea of going to the butcher shop for mean, the bakery for breads and pies and the myriad of other small specialty shops that went out of style in the 50s in America when the first mall came to town.

Marriage again at my age has been challenging, but I think it-s been just as challenging — if not more so — for Ale.

Despite my tromping around and being in and out of the apartment, she has continuously worked to transform her home into our home.  This has been her place for 15 years and suddenly she has a big Americano flopping around.  For the most part, she’s accomodated by quirks and foibles with a smile, but I know that when she starts raising her voice and talking to me in Spanish I better disappear for the hills for a season.

Life in Argentina with Ale is good.  For me it feels great to have someone to come home to at the end of the day and say, “Let me tell you what I did!”  Ale patiently listens to me telling her about some new discovery in town and she doesn’t interrupt me to let me know that my discovery is something she’s known about for years.

I’ve gotten used to the unique smells in the street here.  The exhaust of diesel, the different aroma put out by flowers and even the traces of the 1001 dogs that follow their owners on their daily stroll.

Crossing the street against the light isn’t as nerve wracking as it was six months ago and late at night while Ale lays asleep beside me, I often find myself thanking the Creator for making her happen in my life.

I also catch myself wondering sometimes, “What does America smell like?”

Jerry Nelson is a freelance photojournalist from America.  The creator of the photographic book, No Indians in Tennessee, he now lives in Argentina while he continues to turn his lens on social justice issues around the globe.  Connect with Jerry on MosaicHub, Facebook or LinkedIn today. Follow this link to read more of his work on Huffington Post and Examiner.  Jerry uses WeOnTech to distribute his images and articles, get your FREE TRIAL today.  Have a story that needs to reach national media?  Email him today.

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