Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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While going to school in Atlanta, the most frustrating aspect of everyday living was being hit up for money by the bums who prowl the streets. Not only was it annoying to have to lie straight to their faces, claiming I didn´t have any money, but what made it worse was the fear that these (generally) men would try something towards me, being desperate and poor. Unlike Buenos Aires, the sidewalks of Atlanta would are not packed with people late at night, so the potential for robbery is always there. However, in Argentina, while being hit up for money once every two blocks is annoying, I prefer it to Atlanta, mostly for the fact that I can deny these people money and feel safe about it.

Now do not get me wrong, I am not a cold, heartless bastard who won´t give a penny to the poor. On this trip, I have spared some money, but I prefer to give it to those who try to work for it. The thing that irks me the most is those that try and use the pathetic look in order to obtain money. I do not agree with using children to get money. While this may be effective, I do not think it should be the children making the money for the family. The parents should be the ones trying to feed their children, not vice versa. I am very disturbed to see children running around the streets at midnight and one in the morning, trying to sell stickers, and other worthless junk. These kids should be in bed, sleeping before school the next day. Furthermore, they must work for somebody, in order to get those stickers and blinking bouncy balls that they try and sell; I don´t really want to give them money, just so they can go give it to their boss who most likely gives his workers next to nothing. Yet, after the crisis in 2002, desperate times always call for desperate measures.

Rather, those who I have given money to have been clever. For instance, in Mendoza, while sitting at an outdoor restaurant, a poor local came by, and began to play on his guitar, blow on his flute pipes, and sing, all at the same time. Impressed by this skill, I paid him. He was using his skills to get by; he found his niche in terms of begging, and rolled with it. I gave him the money because I felt like he had worked to earn it. Its those who use their talents to beg that I respect, while those that simply sit their crying out for money that I am not a big fan of. Maybe its just the conservative in me, but I believe that you need to work or at least put effort to get a return in life. It would be really nice if we could just sit there and everything would fall into our lap, but this is not the case, and I refuse to give money to those who expect the very same to happen. In a competitive, capitalist market, there will be winners and losers; there has to be, thats what allows some people to jump economic classes. So while some people make money, others have to lose it. And while many of those who have lost may not have skills, they still have the ability to try and get a job, go through garbage to find recyclables, or at least learn a skill to use to try and beg with. To me, sitting there, simply begging with a cup is an acceptance of defeat.

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Maradona. Everywhere you go in Argentina, you can find that word. You´ll see it on t-shirts, book covers, magazines, and even towels. Here, Maradona is worshipped like a god. Aside from Evita, he is the biggest icon of the nation, and is loved for being the best soccer player the country ever produced. His biggest contribution to Argentina? He delivered the 1986 world cup championship, all the while dazzling and impressing the fans with his on the field play. So why don't I like Maradona? After all, he did rise from a poor social class to achieve glory and fame for not only himself, but Argentina. While admirable, I'll tell you the real reasons behind my dislike.

First of all, if a country is going to worship and idolize a player like they do, he at least should be a good person, that can properly serve as a role model. Instead, Maradona used to be one of the biggest cokeheads you'll ever see. What is worse is that not only does Argentina love this man who buried his head in white powder, but they also forgive him for it, seeing it as just some demons he was eventually going to overcome. Oh please. The man is a scumbag. The United States turned against Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro when they found they took steroids. In the U.S., any adverse information, such as the Kobe rape scandal, can destroy a player´s personal image. Yet, despite being banned in the 1994 (or '91, cant remember which one), people still embrace Maradona, instead of recognizing him as the cheater (just ask the English) or druggy that he was. Hell, the United States almost impeached its former president for committing adultery and lying, while Maradona fathered an illegitimate child, and it didn't put a dent into his popularity.

Some Argentines say that Maradona encompasses everything that Argentina is for, but I think this is not true. They sure as heck aren't all coke abusers who commit adultery. Rather, in my opinion, it seems that Argentines want to love Maradona, and will do so no matter what. This is because they need a soccer idol to look up to, a personality to love nowadays, as they loved Evita. However, I think Argentina is grasping for something that isn't there. There comes a time when Argentina needs to stop saying poor Diego, and let him be punished and reap what he sowed for so long. There comes a time when Argentina must realize how maniacal he is, especially after he dawned an Osama Bin Laden mask after 9/11. The man complains about the children being murdered accidentally in Iraq, yet he celebrates the intentional murder of thousands of Americans. Argentine's need to look to the future, to find a new idol, rather than celebrating a man who may have played great soccer, but nearly destroyed his family and himself.  Would you want your child to take after him?