If you had to describe every country you visited in in a word or two it would be hard no? Maybe it is possible for some, but for Argentina it is impossible. I knew close to little coming here for a month, but I have found that it was way less than little that I knew….
Argentina has an incredibly complex history, tumultuous politics, and currently, very big economic issues. It is the kind of country, and I expect many places in South America can have the same effect, that tears your worldview wide open. You can have a grand cafe, or famous site right next to sad and horrendous poverty. I know for me seeing the dumpster divers in Buenos Aires was hard to watch. I have come to learn that some are workers for the city, the cartoneros, and have their own federation, the Argentine Federation of Litter Pickers.
But that is why I travel. Beautiful things are beautiful and I am fortunate to experience mostly this, but seeing the gritty side of the world can have some positive impact too, like cultivating empathy, gratitude, and perspective. The specific trigger for me here in Argentina was probably the pain. About 4 out of every 10 people in Argentina are considered poor. Some of the dumpster divers are looking for and eating the food they find. The people here are also dealing with years of recession, a ~72% inflation rate, and a tanking currency. Further, they seem disenchanted and hurt by the horrors of their past military dictatorships.
I didn’t know if I could handle this for a month or so, my usual rose colored glasses were officially darkened. And unfortunately, when uncomfortable I can sometimes fall into negative thinking patterns (working on it!) which was no way to start this trip! Luckily I have a partner who is very patient and understanding, and we actually came out the other side with deepened understanding of each other and renewed commitment.
Locals I speak to share that the city of Buenos Aires has grown a lot. It is more tolerant, and people are letting go of prejudices and starting to embrace the diversity of its people. My new friend Flor actually describes Buenos Aires in these 3 words: joyful, awesome, and colorful. So I guess my final point is that Argentina has not lost sight of the rainbow after the rain, and neither should we.
I will leave you with a poem from my last women’s group meeting in Palermo, BA. Leave me your thoughts below!
The authentic life
As the ideal life
The beautiful colors of each of us.
Let your blue be the bluest blue.
When it passes green,
A beautiful multitude.
Awe inspiring juxtapositions.
Or a lovely blend.
Like an Argentine malbec.