My host Ivan and I were on a bus in downtown Mendoza when suddenly a messy ball of rainbowy madness burst on, something like a slightly less intense version of Lady Gaga. Vanina – all take away coffee and smelling of chlorine from the local pool she’d been at that afternoon – was an acquaintance of Ivan, and although she didn’t immediately recognise him, she soon clicked. Recently peroxided Vanina is a radio journalist who had just returned from India, where she had experienced her first major overseas journey. During the next couple of days, the three of us ate our body weight in Italian and Mexican food and marveled (well, Ivan and I did!) at Vanina’s enormous wisdom for someone so young.
How has being Argentinian left its mark on you?
As an Argentinian, I feel I’m very conservative…I think as Argentinians we are. We’re also very family-oriented and afraid. I often feel afraid about life in general, but particularly and when I think about travelling. But Argentinians are also impulsive and cunning, though we don’t intentionally con people. We’re not fraudsters. But we’re strategic; especially in relationships.
What would your 13-year-old self think about you if they met you?
She’d be disappointed, as when I was 13 I was really shy and now I’m so extroverted. She was comfortable that way, so she’d be intimidated by me now. The things I do can be really unhinged. She was really conservative then, even more than I’d say I am now as a result of being from Argentina.
If you could meet your 13-year-old self, what would you say to her?
I’d tell her to value her teenage years because they’ve been the best of my life so far. I’d also tell her not to be so naive, as people are not always as good as they seem.
How do you make decisions?
I’m not really a fan of making decisions by rational means, as that requires taking a lot of time to weigh up the possibilities. I think the most important thing is that a decision be made quickly, despite its consequences…
Do you think you’re on the right path?
Definitely…because I often doubt it (laughs). Doubt is an inherent part of knowing you’re going well. For me, being cautious confirms that I’m on the right path.
How do you feel when you think about your future?
I find it difficult to think about the future. I feel that today, I’m living the future I always wanted…but I’m aware that life could end at any moment. I don’t imagine myself at 30, at 40. I think mystery is the spice of life.
What fascinates you about Argentina?
That being here is being at home, at peace. When I first arrived in India, I spent a week in a hotel, I just couldn’t leave. I didn’t feel comfortable there yet.
The look in a person’s eyes. The expression in everyone’s eyes fascinates me – everyone, absolutely everyone whether good or bad.
My ability to think up projects (at work).
What scares you about Argentina?
I’m scared that Argentina is growing, because the bigger it gets, the more people change. I think Argentinians are really lovely, simple people overall and I’m scared that if the country continues to grow, that people will think more of themselves and become more arrogant.
How changeable people’s feelings can be. I find it terrifying how one day someone can love another person and the next day be capable of killing them. It makes you cold just thinking about it.
I’m scared to ponder too much about myself, it’s so hard to think objectively about yourself. But I’m scared of one day wanting to kill myself because I know that I would be capable, if I was driven to it.