One of the most difficult questions I have had to answer, more frequently due to my travels south, is: "what do you do?" In all seriousness, I have no idea how to answer the question. I even started making things up like, "I'm studying Spanish" (which is partially true), or "I write for a magazine" (also, partially true).
Nevertheless, there is still a sense of grittiness I get from stretching the truth. In truth, I do nothing, which, at times, can be just as pressing as doing everything.
One Californian named Ryan asked me how it was possible to live in Buenos Aires for 6 months without working or going to school. Those were the words he used, but deep down I knew he was asking how much money I was worth. This was a rather forward question, as well as embarrassing as I was sitting next to an Argentine (most really don't have any money and are quite aware of this fact), but I bucked-up and tried to answer as appropriately as possible, given the circumstances. I casually explained that I had worked my ass off saving money for a year and that I lived on a very tight budget (ok, also partially true). The reality is that Buenos Aires, when you rent an apartment, cook at home and not travel, is very affordable by North American standards. But, how could I say that sitting next to an Argentine guy from the bustling city who just told me that 50 pesos (U$S15) was way too much to pay for dinner.
The resounding conclusion is that Argentina has poverty, as most Argentines keep telling me. Most of the people from the country have told me it is impossible for them to travel as it is so expensive. When there is a girl working at a hostel 6 graveyard shifts a week for $2000AR pesos (U$S600) a month, I can believe it. Life does not have luxuries here, in Argentina, but the people's spirits are admirable. They seem to take the state-imposed poverty with a graceful frustration. For example, in El Calafate I saw Kirchner's hotel and mansion, built with whose money no one knows. But there is no vandalism, no graffiti on the buildings (probably from fear of disappearing), and there seems to be a quiet acceptance.
So, needless to say, I felt a sting. Here I am, doing nothing because I can and Argentines working relentlessly hoping for a change to come. Do I feel sorry? Hell no. Now, I can spend some time stirring the pot, enacting a change. I am grateful to be where I am and how I am living. Now, all I need is to choose to spend my time wisely instead of frivolously.
In the end, I believe this is the way Argentina will go until the people realize that they are the many and the corrupt politicians are the few. After all, this is Che Guevara's country.