So this week was rather exciting. Our site offered a ride on the Panema River, which I took them up on. It was cold but rather exciting to be sailing and seeing all the different houses around us. Some houses were really well maintained while others were beginning to fall apart. Once again I was stuck by the difference of wealth inside the country. While on the boat Alex and I met a kid who spoke fluent English. He had a lot of questions about America’s political system so we had an hour discussion with him. It was interesting.
The next day Naomi and I went to a flea market, and in the afternoon we met up with Alex to get a coffee. While walking to meet Alex I ended up on tv. This guy came up to me and asked me if it was alright if he asked some questions. Hoping to practice my Spanish I agreed. Next thing I know, I’m in a Messi jersey giving an interview on how wonderful the Argentine soccer team is!
On Tuesday we all went to a sports bar to watch the Argentina game, and went nuts when they won. But that was nothing compared to the USA game that night. It was the single most patriotic thing I have participated in ever, no doubt made even more so by being in a foreign country. We sang the national anthem twice, chanted USA every couple of minutes, along with another chant of “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!” And yes, the all caps was necessary. We were that excited. Of course, the US lost and the bar owner gave us all free shots for mourning. It was amazing.
And of course, today is the fourth of July so we all went out to a bar to celebrate the independence of our country. The national flag monument here is lit up red white and blue, but I didn’t take a picture because to get there I would have to walk through a very sketch part of town. It would not have been safe, so instead I went with my friends to a restaurant and had a steak for America.
However, not everything about this week was happy. Yesterday we went to the Memorial Museum for the Disapeared during the dictatorship that was only about 20-30 years ago. It was hard to get through the museum, the pictures of the missing are haunting. The hardest part for me was to look at pictures of children who had been killed/kidnapped during this time. Many of them still have not been found. We heard a story that happened about a year ago of a young girl who lived in Spain. At age 24, an old man came to talk to her and she learned something shocking. Her parents were not her biological parents. Her mother and father were two of the disappeared (it is used as a noun here) and the grandfather knew her mother was pregnant. The people who raised her tortured and killed her real parents before kidnapping her and fleeing the country. How do you live with that information?
Even worse, in the building across from our university, they used to torture and execute Argentines during this time. When I look in the windows for the basement I can see the torture rooms, it is chilling to walk by this reminder every day. I can’t fully explain how horrifying it truly is to be constantly reminded of this when I go to class. Once again, I’m struck by the differences between the US and Argentina. It’s hard to think any country could do this, and their motto “nunca mas” reminded me heavily of WWII. (It means never again). Not only that, but the burning of un-approved books and the concentration camps also pounded this in.
So while I am in a beautiful country, I am constantly reminded of the horrors it committed on the way to and from school every day. And I think this experience will make the biggest impact on me from my time in Argentina.