This summer I spent all of July in Argentina to visit family. I spent time in Buenos Aires, Tucuman, Boqueron, and Estancias del Pilar. Originally I was just going to visit family that lives there but this year I got the chance to also go and do mission work which meant I was going to spend ten days in one of the poorest places in Argentina. It was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed and will never forget.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
When I think of Argentina, and what it means to me, the first thing that comes to mind is all of my family. We have such wonderful memories together both in Argentina and in Los Angeles. The second thing I think of are the people of the country – their lifestyle. I haven’t met anyone here that isn’t still close friends with someone they knew in their early childhood. Here, friendship seems to be more valued. Argentina also means tango, meat, good food, beautiful landscape, vast ranches, and finally, poverty. I had always seen poverty in Argentina but this year my cousin invited me to join her mission group to go and experience poverty first hand.
I went to Santiago del Estero from Sunday July 17 to Wednesday July 26th. My Cousin, Catalina, had gone the year before and I was very excited to give my heart to the people with the San Francisco Xavier mission group pulled together mostly by Pachu Porres. We traveled all night for 12 hours from Estancias del Pilar (where my cousin lives) and arrived in San Jose Boqueron early the next morning. Then I was sent with a group of ten to a smaller pueblo called Iskay Posos. My diet for the next week and a half would consist of pasta, rice, and grits (and the food that the locals greeted us with). Our schedule always included a lot of time to pray. However, it was also a time to sit and think and feel a new culture through different shoes. For example, sometimes we complain that we aren’t happy with our wardrobe; imagine only having one outfit to use until you grow out of it. Some people aren’t happy with the car they have; imagine having to walk everywhere, in your one pair of shoes, over dirt roads, under the hot sun and in the cold. I am so thankful for everything I have and now I’m even thankful for things that are as simple and essential as a toilet, running water, a warm bed at night and clean clothes daily.
Regardless of the conditions that these people lived in, they seemed happy. They never fought with one another, they shared their torn gloves, and they saved up some money to throw my mission group a feast for our departure. The children were always smiling and willing to learn. The families welcomed us and were glad to have us. There were days that we would go visit a house and sit in total silence – that’s their way of life. There is no rush, only time and the only thing that matters is family.
I am so thankful to have experienced visiting my family all over Argentina and to have made new family in Santiago. I am so happy to have gotten the chance to meet and fall in love with the people of Iskay Posos and I plan to go back next year.
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