Day 20: The Ping in Your Head that Helps You Realize Just How Fortunate You Are / by Sarah Kakusho

It’s interesting. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been pretty fortunate to not have any unfortunate mishaps [yes, even though it’s been 20 days]. Let’s hope that stays that way… I’ve been talking to other people in my program and they’ve had problems like the kids in their host family were going through all of their things, or being hit on by their maid’s nephew, or getting their cameras almost stolen on the streets while taking a photo, or anything of that sort.

I met up a with a friend today and she was telling me how she was invited to her maid’s house last night, and when she went, she saw a person about 10 feet away from her get shot in the leg. Apparently, two people were having some kind of heated argument and it ended with gunshots. No one died, as far as my friend knew. She told me she was glad that she didn’t know completely what was going on, or she would’ve been so traumatized from it. She was so flustered she was talking to me in English [she’s one of my friends that usually only speaks to me in Castellano].

This happened only a 20-minute bus ride south from where I live. She told me that there was a huge difference between where we are living and where she went last night. To just give a rundown of where I live, I live in a high-class, high-end barrio. One block down is the street where the most expensive shops are in Buenos Aires with all the imported brand names like Ralph Lauren [and I can’t remember the others. I don’t go down that street for obvious reasons]. All the people around this area are in business suits or really expensive looking outfits, holding a brief case or walking their border collies or poodles.

The place where my friend went to was, as she described it, a “shanty town.” The house she stayed at had rooms that looked like prison cubicles and there was no heating, hot water, or flushable toilets. She said she had only slept an hour and then just stayed up the entire night after that, hearing the loud noises of the discoteca across the street and the sounds of gunshots. Only 20 minutes away from where we live.

It makes me wonder why it’s common to find some of the less fortunate near one of the wealthiest areas. Is it just wishful thinking among the less fortunate, or is it an ego boost among the wealthy? I don’t know. My friend told me that wasn’t a danger zone that was listed on a paper that our program gave us. I could only imagine what the danger zone, that are listed are like. But, it just goes to show regardless of if something is listed as danger or not, it’s important to be alert anywhere we go.

I’m very glad I’ve been placed in this area. It makes me feel much safer than I had initially thought and there’s a lot more to do than I had thought. The best empanadas are across the street. The one of the biggest ferias is 3 blocks down. The most harassment I get any day is from the homeless who just ask for money.

I’ve definitely taken for granted a lot of Argentine things, and I’m glad I’m able to see that now, while it’s still at the beginning of my journey here. I’m grateful to be able to study in another country in a field that I can’t study in back at Soka. I’m grateful to live in a very safe environment where the nearest laundry place is a block and half away and the nicest affordable cafes are within 3 blocks. I’m grateful for the friends that I’ve made here who trust me enough to open up to me with how they’re feeling. I’m grateful to be in an environment where [most] people are warm and open, and have character. I’m just so grateful that I am here.

Appreciation / 感謝 / Agradecimiento

To Argentina, the land of beautiful people and delicious food. ¡Salud!