This place is different.

  •  Benjamin Whitaker
  •  July 16, 2014
  •  blog

I knew that when I decided to move to Argentina that I was in for a big change. In my ignorance I just didn’t realise how different this place actually is. For me it has already been an unforgettable experience. I have learnt something new and been challenged every day. I have been surprised on more occasions than I can remember. I am slowly getting to know the inner workings of this city Buenos Aires, and am still fascinated by what I am still to discover.

This city has so much going for it and so much wrong with it! It is a city of extremes, highs and lows, peaks and troughs. It plays with your emotions, it pulls your heart strings, kicks you in the shins! One day to the next, you are not sure what she will throw at you! It may be a rock, it may be a rose. What you do know to expect….is the unexpected.

My limitations are the things that I have been accustomed to from the world that I have left behind. I am learning to not expect, but to accept. The challenge is that sometimes I don’t have to understand why something it that way, but understand that I just have to accept that it is that way. Worry about the things that I can change, and all the rest, let them be.

In nine months the cost of transport has doubled. It is difficult to understand but as the Argentinians say, ‘it’s just the way it is’. I woke up to no water in the house one day and no power the next. Life goes on, it’s just the way it is. The mayor of Lanús, the province in which we work in, arrives to work in a helicopter, but there are holes in the road the size of baby elephants that fill up like swimming pools when it rains as the water drainage doesn’t work and the state of the education of the children in this area is embarrassing, just to name a few. There is a lot to frown about.

At the other end of the scale, this city is rich with all walks of people, attitudes, culture, music, dance, theatre, art, traditional food and sport (mainly soccer). All senses being tested. A guitarist singing beautiful traditional folkloric music on the bus, street artist commissioned to graffiti the side of a building, a couple dancing tango in a car park with guitar and accordion playing alongside, purists selling traditional pastries from a bike on the edge of the footpath, a string quintet playing on a roof terrace in between buildings in the city, theatre shows happening in normal looking homes converted into performance spaces, the smell of asado (BBQ) on every corner and the cheers of soccer mad fans leaking from buildings. So to counter the frowns are a million various ways of finding interesting and exciting stimulation.

There are cultural differences too that take a bit of getting used to. I have found that so many stereotypes are made of all walks of life based on very little interactions and experiences. I myself even judged people based on these small snippets. A couple of Argentinians yelling at each other in the street. Where I am from, this is a fight. Here, it is a conversation. This was a little confronting at first but now I am coming around to this type of conversing. I think where I am from we are too concerned about offending people. I am working on not taking anything personally and to saying what I think. Also in this way everything is on the table and nothing is left inside to brew negativity. It is quite liberating. I try to be a punctual person. I found that almost nobody here is punctual. At least half an hour late is the norm. Sometimes an hour or an hour and a half. Sometimes people don’t turn up at all and don’t inform you that they are not turning up. It has been a struggle for me but I am slowly getting used to it. Don’t expect….accept.

So I came here to start a project to support some kids. I never expected to be on such a journey of new experiences, learning and self development. I’m looking forward to what is to come.

 

 

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