As I am sitting down to write, countless questions are scrolling through my head. What do I want to tell my school community about Buenos Aires – the place where I have been for over two weeks? Do they care more about the beautiful women, or that last week I was almost robbed? Are the cheap prices and value of the U.S. dollar more important than the fact that 60 percent of the wealth is in one percent of the people’s hands? What is more interesting? Getting used to seeing homeless mothers in the streets or getting used to living like a king? How can I write a cohesive article in a place so wrought with contradiction? I am truly not sure. All I can do is be honest with my observations about what is quickly becoming my new home.

It’s a weird feeling to wake up and be in your own bed, but not in your own country. I feel at home in my house, but I feel like a foreigner in the streets. I do speak broken Castellano – Argentine Spanish – but everyone knows I am not from here as soon as I utter my first word. I feel safe, yet I know I have to be careful – robberies are all too common – kidnappings are unfortunately far from unheard of. I know this, and I know that I have to be careful about who I trust, but I know a few other things too.

The people here are just wonderful, caring, relaxed, interesting, helpful and friendly.

Just the other day, a middle-aged man was beginning to fall during a bus ride, and immediately, another man reached out and grabbed his hand to help him catch his balance. There is a kind of genuine caring I usually do not see in the United States. Everyone gives you a kiss on the cheek – old friends, new friends, men, women – it doesn’t matter, you are getting one. I like that. The people are also warm – whenever I am lost, people always take the time to make sure I can find my way. They will speak slowly, show me on a map and even write it down. That is the culture down here – slower paced and more people-oriented.

It is okay to walk up to a person you don’t know and begin talking, just because you find them interesting. At home, the men who cat-call at women are jerks. Here, you are a jerk if you look but do not compliment.

If you have heard only a few things about Argentina, it may very well be about the meat and the women. Well let me say, they are not exaggerating about either one. The mujeres, or women, are “buenissimas” and the carne, or meat, is “tan rica.”

You can get the best cut of meat you have ever had in your life at any restaurant no problem. For the most expensive and savory cut of meat, you will pay about 12 pesos – $4 USD.

It is also very likely that during your dinner, children covered in dirt will come and beg you for money so they can buy a new pair of shoes, or maybe just a meal. But keep your eyes open. It might just be a distraction for his friend to grab your wallet from your pants.

This is the life that I have been living. It’s amazing but it’s not a dreamland. Every day I know I am privileged to see things from this new and confusing perspective.

Webb can be reached at jwebb@campustimes.org.



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