I might as well start off with the bad stuff first, right? So, last week was not nearly as trying emotionally for me, but physically I was a wreck! I bought some shoes with my friend Kristina because I had been looking for a black pair of flats. Well, I found some really cheap ones (50 pesos, which is about $15) but that seemed to be of good quality. I walked around with them a lot in the store, and they were a little tight but I just thought they had to be broken in. Well, when I wore them to school a few days later, my feet went through so much pain that I'm still wearing bandaids a week later.
Let me explain: I was running late for school, and the university is about 15 blocks away. By the time I got a block away from my apartment, I started to regard my new shoes as mini torture chambers. My left ankle had started hurting again (it never properly healed a few years ago when I severely strained it rollerskating) so I was wearing my wrap, which in the end made things worse. As I was walking down Cabildo, the pain got worse and worse to the point where I stepped on the backs of the shoes so my heels would stop hurting. Well, for better or worse, this put more strain on my toes. I was walking so slowly that I was sure I was going to be late for class, so I just tried to ignore it and go on. Well, after 10 blocks of this, I literally couldn't walk anymore and I TOOK OFF MY SHOES. Yes, that's freaking disgusting to do on city streets, but I couldn't take it anymore. After class, I realized I had to take a taxi home because my feet had become so sore and swollen. When I finally got to my room, I counted 12 blisters and numerous cuts (some of which are still bleeding today). A blister on my pinky toe was literally the size OF my pinky toe, and one on my other foot had popped and nearly got infected. I basically tried not to walk anywhere for 2 days (when I had class, I had to wear my most comfortable flip-flops, and even then, I wore 5 huge bandaids and cotton pads). To make matters worse, I got a terrible cold the next day that left me more tired and with a runny nose, headache and cough. (I'm still using toilet paper because I don't have Kleexes here...) A few days after that incident, I believe I got food poisoning (I'm still not sure from what) because I had these horrific stomach cramps and was sick for what seemed like forever, but what was only a couple of hours. Thankfully, I've gotten most of these things under control now, but it was definitely a trying week.
Anyway! I did manage to get a new coat on the same shopping exhibition as my shoes, and I really love it. It's gray and shaped like a peacoat; it's also not heavy which is what I need here because it doesn't get that cold (contrary to what everyone says). I also managed to find some books in English (which I was SO grateful for, and I think books of other languages should be more readily in America) and ended up buying "The Forest House" (prequel to Mists of Avalon; I LOVE Marion Zimmer Bradley), "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" (which is sort of the basis for the theories in the "Da Vinci Code") and "How God Poisons Everything." I started the last one and it's really confirmed my belief that I want to write a book about Christian tyranny in America; I've already started gathering evidence about their discrimination against minority faiths like (you guessed it!) Paganism. (And yes, this is what I do in my spare time.) Now that I have homework though, it might be a while before I get back to them.
Something interesting that I've been trying to analyze lately is my sense of superiority. What a weird thing to say, right? I only know I have one because of my trainings as a feminist and as a Pagan. Just the other day an Argentine did something particularly rude (though I can't even remember what it is anymore!), but what I do remember is my reaction. I thought: how dare you do that to me? You owe everything to me (aka as an American). Everything you see around you is because of me. These thoughts were instantaneous so I know it wasn't suddenly like I became a bad person overnight, especially since I'll be the first to tell you that different cultures and societies, as long as they do not hurt others, should be protected at all costs. Where did this sense of ego come from? Do most Americans feel this way subconsciously? I shall let you ponder your own thoughts now...
I forgot to mention that last week ISA got together to go to a dance club where we all learned tango and salsa from instructors. We learned just a few basic routines, but it was really fun (especially when your partner was good). I have yet to go to a club (as fun and comfy as the bars are) where dancing is the norm. I actually only made it to 4am this last weekend, so I'm down an hour from the Argentine goal of at least 7am...
This weekend was the "Dia de Campo," which basically means we learned how to be gauchos (sort of like rustic ranchers). Just kidding mostly, but it was to see life in the countryside. We had this HUGE lunch that seriously was like 6 courses and included every kind of meat you could imagine (including tongue, intestines, etc.) I tried the intestines but promptly spit it out into a napkin. There's only so much you can take. The best part of the day was riding the horses. See, when I was about 12, I rode a horse for my first time, except that it was a horrible experience. My mom and brother had been on one horse, but they turned back because it was unruly. That left me with my crazy horse. I don't know if it wasn't fed or watered or something, but it kept walking into lakes to drink and stomping through the forest where I proceeded to get scraped by every tree known to the area. By the time the instructor, who was really a teenaged replacement for the real instructor at the last moment, found me, he blamed me for making the whole tour late. Of course, I started to cry and he seemed to hate me more then. To top it all off, I fell off my horse at the end. Yeah, a really great experience. Since then, I refused to ride horses, but I decided that today would be the day I'd get over my fear of them. They were very calm and gentle horses and we only traveled a few blocks around the town. When someone else's horse kept going down the wrong paths, mine just pulled over to the side and ate some grass in the meantime, but it did NOT plow through the forest, which made all the difference. I was actually shaking the whole time, but I'm really glad I did it. We finished out the day with te con leche, which has become my favorite drink here.
For those of you who still wish to read on, I will tell you now that the following will be about politics. I won't deny that it might expand your idea of "politics" and make you a more open-minded person, but for those who just don't care, I understand if you don't read on.
So, I think a lot about politics in general, but more so here than even in the US. One of the things that has struck me most is that even though I more than agree with progressives in America, I have learned that they are not always right. For example, many left-wingers in the US see Chavez of Venezuela as a president who refuses to fall into US capitalistic-inspired policies. For a while, I thought they must be right. After all, weren't they right about global warming, and abortion, and gay marriage, and all the other socially liberal ideas that came out of progressive thought? The answer is obviously no. Just because someone is working towards the same end as you doesn't mean they're always doing it through the same means, and that's where political differences lie. In Argentina, many believe that Chavez and Castro and the other communist "presidents" are dictators. Some of my "progressive" friends back home would say that the "system" causes us to view them in this way because of our conservative backwardness. Many conservatives are backwards in America, but that doesn't mean they aren't right about some things. I know it's true in this case because Argentina is widely liberal, and even the socialists still hate the "communist" reigns these dictators run. My outright condemnation of the military coup in Honduras seems to be a little rash now; many Latinos see the former president Zelayo as a dictator; indeed, the military ousted him because he attempted to change the constitution in his favor. What I've learned recently in my readings is that military coups were not always bad.
Let me explain: in Latin America, political office has nearly always meant personal glory for oneself. Whether the first US politicians like George Washington were really rare selfless heroes that just happened to be American is debatable, but the fact remains that a primarily corrupt system only begets more corruption in the future. In Argentina for example, political rivalries often impeded any real change. The dominating party in each election was not seen as the most popular, but in fact the most powerful. Instead of seeking partisan cooperation, presidents awarded family members and political allies high seats of administration. Those of the opposing parties were often persecuted and even executed. It has been argued that the infamous military coup that inspired the Dirty War had waited until society was so out of control that people begged the military to take over and impose order. When Isabel Peron became president when her husband died, she had no idea what to do. Inflation was almost 350%, foreign debt was 50 billion dollars, interest rates were up to 40%, foreign investments had gone down by 50%, and a European ban on beef (one of Argentina's main exports), combined with a failed yearly harvest made life nearly intolerable. Add to this the guerilla (read: left-wing) warfare that had become increasing violent by kidnapping and sometimes executing influential businessmen, politicians and military officers. While I am obviously more sympathetic to the Socialist cause that the guerillas fought for, it has once again confirmed my belief that violence and war do not make change. When the military took over, as it had many times before in Argentina, people probably thought that it would once again be temporary and only long enough to hand the government back to civilians once matters had settled down. Probably no one expected the outright extermination of anyone related to leftists, including students and professors, for no other reason that they were young and educated. None of this justifies the absolute atrocities that the military dictatorship committed, but it gives one a background as to how something so disastrous occurred in Argentina and many, many other Latin American countries.
In conclusion, I am saying that EVERY stance, especially political ones, must be carefully thought through; simply agreeing with what your "party" says makes you as simple-minded and disrespectable as the conservatives who preach only what their backwards families tell them to. This is one of the main reasons that I do not agree with anarchy; not because I don't believe humans are incapable of regulating themselves without a hierarchical system (in fact, I believe that humans naturally choose social institutions, but I would concur that ours has been infested for too long with racism, sexism, classism, and religious discrimination, and new regulation is needed) but that most of the self-righteous US anarchists are simply being radical for the sake of being radical. They blow up buildings because they feel they have no other way to communicate their message; in Latin America, I could see the legitimacy for revolution of this kind. Armored resistance has often been the only to make your needs heard. However, in the US, "political prisoners" are often nothing more than ignorant individuals who think destroying urban structures will help the birds' migratory patterns return to normal; nevermind the pollution that their bombs just created. Nevermind the fact that if war and insurrection are the only ways to utopia, the utopia will be one embedded with violence. No, these are the weapons of the weak and spiteful, weapons that extreme right-wingers and extreme left-wingers seem to employ in their attempts to cry like a child, "Why won't anyone listen to me?" This is just another reason history is so important to present society. Bringing this all the way from Latin American to US beliefs then, I disagree with conservatives who think that bombing Iraq will "civilize" the people, but I also disagree with radicals who believe that bombing their own countries will emphasize the need for unhierarchial and peaceful cooperation. No, I place my political beliefs neatly within Socialism, which has sought, in its many forms, to readjust the power given to straight white Christian males (as Papa Bear O'Reilley put it) and to redistribute it among the widest possible audience. Socialism isn't perfect, and thankfully, like Paganism, it offers a wide net for opinions within one movement. However, for developed urban countries like ours, Socialism seems the best bet of creating a society where people at least have the chance of having the same opportunities as those who have ruled for at least 2,000 years. These are my beliefs, at least for now.
Amor y paz a todos.