Some stuff to ponder

Yay, there was a thunderstorm here a couple of nights ago and it seems to have cleared up all the humidity, so it feels much more comfortable now. 🙂 There’s actually a really nice breeze today, a fresh cool one and not the scorching winds that were blowing about a few days ago! I’ve been bouncing around the streets of BA with short sleeves and bare feet in my shoes, rejoicing at the wind hitting my skin, while everyone else is walking around in jackets and scarves! I like a bit of sun, of course, but now I know that I’ll always feel at home in a cold climate. Finally, it seems that there really are “buenos aires” in Buenos Aires! 😆

My cold has almost totally cleared up now, so that’s another plus! I was up for another night of salsaing on Wednesday and it was just fabby. There was a different instructor this time and he was a bit calmer than the Cuban guy! I was in awe of that guy’s exuberance and obvious passion for salsa, but this teacher’s style was more suited to me; he explained things a lot more and took things a bit more slowly. I’m really starting to love salsa!

Yesterday I volunteered in a different favela, Laferrere. It’s just as dilapidated as Ciudad Oculta, yet the kids are even more enthusiastic and keen to learn. I was particularly humbled by one boy in particular yesterday – he was about 15 or 16, much older than the rest of the kids there, but he didn’t seem to care and as soon as he sat down he asked me to make up some long multiplication and division sheets for him. When I gave them to him his eyes just lit up and he started to work quietly through the sums. Again, it really made me think about how unfair the world is. These kids don’t have access to decent schooling but you can see how hungry most of them are for education, while some school kids back home think it’s funny to constantly disrupt their classes or just not turn up to school at all, not realising that there are so many children who would do anything to be in their place.

As I rode home in the group’s minibus, I gazed out at the sad little town and felt so helpless. It really is pot luck where you are born, and as much as I detest the appalling inequality in our world there’s almost nothing I can do about it. A slight draught was whipping through my hair from the gap in the back “windscreen”: the bus doesn’t actually have a back windscreen, just a thick sheet of material covering the hole where the screen should be. Even the charities committed to helping the favelas’ residents have no money to spare, it seems. What have I done to deserve a university place and a chance to make something of my life? My experiences have really made me appreciate the opportunities I have and I feel that my lifelong love of learning has been justified.

Dinner last night was very interesting, too. Raquel and Juan Carlos had invited one of their friends, Mary Jane, over to eat and she asked lots of questions about Argentina’s economical crisis of 6 years ago. This sparked off a fascinating conversation and I really got a sense of how frustrated Argentines are at how their country has fallen so badly from the prosperity it used to have. I’ve noticed that Argentina has such an intelligent culture – there are countless bookshops, cultural centres and theatres, and university is free for all students here. Underneath all its exciting squalor, there is definitely a strange aura in Buenos Aires. It’s as if the city is in mourning, upset that its people have been prevented from reaching their potential. You only have to look around at the buildings, most of which are beautiful but ruggedly so, and the homeless people who emerge at night to rummage through the city’s dustbins, to get an idea of what I mean. It’s hard to describe the feeling I’m trying to get across but I hope I’m making sense!

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