click on the photo to see large20 July - Friend's Day.
Día del Amigo or Friend's Day is a very important celebration in Argentina and Uruguay.
On 20 July 1969, the whole world united while watching the images of the first Moon landing achieved by the crew of Apollo 11 and "... for one priceless moment, in the whole history of Man, all the people on this Earth [were]truly one," as American President Richard Nixon said in his phone call to astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin moments after they stepped on the Moon for the first time.
In Argentina, a teacher called Enrique Febbraro, had a brilliant idea: he proposed that this day should be remembered in the future and celebrated as Friend's Day, because at that moment in history back in 1969, the entire world had been friends of the three astronauts that had landed on the Moon.
His proposal achieved even official recognition with a government decree (number 235/79)back in the year 1979, and today, it is one of the most popular celebrations in my country as well as in Uruguay.
click on the photo to see large
Friend's Day is not a holiday in Argentina, but it is an excuse for young and old to celebrate friendship. Normally, you start the day making and receiving phone calls from friends: those that are far away, and you haven't seen in a while, as well as those that live in the same city as you do. Another popular thing is to send emails, cards, flowers or sweets to your most dear friends. During the last couple of years, mobile phone networks have even experienced temporary breakdowns during this day!
In the evening, after work, people normally get together for the real celebration. Restaurants, discos, bars - they all offer special arrangements for this day and they normally take reservations well in advance. If you are just visiting or passing by on 20 July, don't bother to show up at a restaurant, because the chances are that you will not find one that can accommodate you without a reservation.
Merijelen and I, at the turn of the century (this century, of course)
On this photo I am with my dear friend Maria Elena, or Merijelen as I like to call her, using a strong Spanish pronunciation of her anglicized name "Mary Ellen". You may ask why I bother to pronounce in Spanish an English name that was anyway Spanish to begin with. That is something Merijelen and I just do: we have developed our own language, in which we turn Spanish words and expressions into English or viceversa - just for fun.
Back in the day when we used to work together, we would share those special moments - like when we both used to make fake dates with Brad and George over the phone...
... or charge money to each other in exchange for help. I would come to her and ask if she could find some book or tape for an exam I needed to have ready, and when I thanked her, she would always say "you're welcome, it's $10!"
We have been friends for a long time and I am pretty sure I owe her millions by now - in pesos, dollars, euros, rands... and every possible currency that exists out there in the world. My debt has increased and grown out of proportion with the passing of time. A couple of tapes for the Cambridge exams, $50; helping me to prepare the auditorium for a workshop, $150; revising the timetables for the examiners and giving them a call, $200; being there in the good times, $500,000; during the hard times, $1,000,000..... and the list goes on. But I was hoping she would forgive that huge debt with this tribute to our friendship on this very special day:
HAPPY DAY, MY FRIEND!
Thanks to the models for these photos: Nicole, Angela, Izan, Vero and her friends!