Australia Day picnic in Buenos Aires

The Australia Day picnic went rather well. There was well over the 120 people that said they were going to attend, as somehow word got around Buenos Aires that there was to be an Australia Day celebration.

When we arrived to set-up there were already two families of Aussies sitting around, waiting for us, eating their Tim Tams - they had apparently received an email telling them about the event. Half an hour later, as the crowd was starting to thicken up, another group of three arrived, announcing their arrival with an, "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie..." - they received word from a notice pinned-up in the hostel they checked into that the morning, upon fresh arrival from Australia. They had had no sleep and hence they were pretty wired. A few other Australians arrived, after reading a posting on an expatriate website by a mystery person. And finally, I was told the Australian embassy was continuing their support of the picnic by also spreading the word. As a result, there were 18 - 20 true-blue Australians there.

With the help of my Aussie friend, Olivia, we prepared over 200 samples of Vegemite - on crackers and slices of baguette - so that everyone could have a taste of something truly Australian. Thinking we had a limited supply, we were initially very prudent with our rationing of the spread. But once we realised our supply would more than fulfil the demand we enthusiastically began spreading it thick - REALLY think - so that everyone could get a full explosion of taste, haha. Actually, we spread it so thick that we were horrified and disgusted when people told us it that it was "good" and "not too bad." As veteran Vegemite consumers, we ourselves were overwhelmed by the strong taste of our samples.

I asked a few friends to print some hand-outs I had prepared. This included a significantly condensed Australian dictionary, with words and phrases such as:

Bludger: lazy person, someone who always relies on others
Bog standard: basic, without accessories (e.g. a bog standard car)
Dog's balls, stands out like: obvious

And I also had the lyrics to Waltzing Matilda printed so that all the Australians could sing it together in a demonstration of Australian song and spirit. Here's a video of us singing in perfect harmony:

There's one line that changes each time the chorus is sung, but we mess it up almost every time. I had the words in front of me and I still got it wrong.

As we lacked barbecue facilities we opted to make it a picnic of multicultural cuisine instead. So people brought dishes from their home countries and, of course, people brought alcohol. I brought the Vegemite and everyone absolutely loved it - as you can see from these photos.

After some time a few people had a few too many beers and a misunderstanding ensued between some masochistic Australian brothers playing a game of "slappies" (a game of their own creation where they try to hurt each other) and a local. There was a bit of a scuffle but they sorted out the miscommunication and made peace afterwards.

At around 9.30pm the security guard told us we had to vacate the park grounds for the night. And whilst everyone gathered their trash and their belongings, one of the more inebriated Australians concluded the evening in true Aussie form with a nudie run - taking off all his clothes and running around like a flaming galah.

So with Alcohol, a Brawl and Cuisine and Culture, everyone received an ABC of Australia. Though I imagine when asked about their little taste of Australia most will say it was something like Vegemite - unforgettable!!

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Thank you to everyone who made the day possible: the individuals in Australia who sponsored us with Vegemite and other goodies; the Australian embassy in Buenos Aires for all their support; the people who helped on the day - particularly Olivia (my sister-from-another-mister); everyone who attended; and of course everyone who was courageous enough to try our wonderful Vegemite. Much love to you all.

ps. I still have more ;-)

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