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POSTCARD FROM BUENOS AIRES

By Janelle Schroy, Adventure Family Journal

Pink summer blossoms grace the trees across from the university on a hot Buenos Aires day. Four girls race down a bridge, beguiled by the moment, a fresh escape from the press of humanity on most of the urban streets, many of which are littered with trash and potted and patched from the harshness of human demands.

They call Buenos Aires the “Paris of South America,” but it doesn’t much feel like it anymore. Of the 15 million people in the greater urban area, many are suffering from soaring inflation, which was 51% in 2021 and is expected to reach 55% soon.

That means that last year alone, Argentinians lost 1/2 of their earning power. Imagine earning the same amount from one year to the next, but with that same amount of money you can only buy HALF of the same goods and services.

US dollars are king here, as the official bank rate pegs 100 pesos to the dollar. No one knows what pesos will be worth a month from now, or even a week from now. So when you use US dollars on the street, you can get 200 pesos to the dollar. What does this mean? That the Argentinian government is suppressing the real exchange rate in an effort to keep the economy from imploding. It means that the people suffer greatly, trying to make ends meet, and more people are in the streets, hungry and dying.

We felt the press and frustration of the people in Buenos Aires. Huge political demonstrations were happening outside our downtown hotel for days last week. They were demanding that the Supreme Court step down due to corruption and negligence.

And yet.

The gentle nature of the Argentinian people prevailed as we explored the city. We were moved by their kindness as they answered our questions through our broken Spanish and guided us on our way.

“Our life is a short time in expectation, a time in which sadness and joy kiss each other at every moment. Even in the most happy moments of our existence, we sense a tinge of sadness. And in all forms of light, there is the knowledge of surrounding darkness.”

Henri Nowen
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