Wow. I am exhausted.
But I am the best kind of exhausted. I am collapse-on-my-pillow-and-fall-asleep-instantly-tired but with a soul bursting from joyful contentment.
It was my second “normal office day” that I’ve had for awhile because INCUPO has an extended summer vacation, so I had been traveling. I spent one day in Cordoba with two lovely new friends I met via couchsurfing.com. I chose to split my 26 hour bus trip to Mendoza in half by doing two night bus trips (Cordoba is halfway between Mendoza and Corrientes). Then, I was in Mendoza for a week with my aunt Linda and her friend Denise who came to visit me and we had a GRAND OL’ time. I love them! After Linda and Denise left I traveled an hour south to a town called Tunuyan and stayed with an amazing family that I met over New Years. They are relatives of my housemate and fantastic friend Aylin. After that, I traveled another 18 hours to Bariloche for a YAGM volunteer retreat. I absolutely LOVED my entire trip and sometimes I have to pinch myself to remember that this is real life. However, while I had an amazing couple weeks filled with new friends, old friends, family, and beautiful mountain views, I am also SO GLAD I get to immerse myself back into the community I have found myself surrounded by here in Corrientes for the next 5 months.
It is such a blessing to have been welcomed into a community during my short time here, to the point where I feel like after being away for awhile from Corrientes I am coming home to old friends.
Today at work I mate’d (shared mate) with my coworkers, laughed, and worked for several hours on the feria franca website I have been creating. Today I was surprised to receive a personally addressed invitation from the president of the feria franca in Yapeyu to go to a regional feria franca expo this next week and stay with him and his wife in their house! I met the president and his wife at several feria franca meetings here in Corrientes and was able to talk with them for an extended period of time at the province wide expo that we had here in December. They are such kind people and I am really excited to get the opportunity to spend more time with them. They love the history channel and know more U.S. Presidential history than me! After discussing the details of my trip next week to Yapeyu I also talked with Paia (my site supervisor) about the work I will be doing these next five months and my interest in really understanding food sovereignty on a macro more structural level. She lent me a book called malas comidas that I am excited to read about the food systems here in Argentina.
After work, Paia invited me to her house for a late lunch and then to the beach near her house. It was my first time at her house. We had the BEST conversation ever about the intersection of social justice and our christian faiths. It is essentially my favorite topic and she shared so much about the origins of INCUPO that I hadn’t known prior. She talked about how her parents had to decide whether they wanted to be pacifists or more militant during the dirty war here in Argentina when 30,000 Argentines disappeared. Her parents chose pacifism, and her mother helped start INCUPO with the help of a Catholic priest. Due to the protection of the Catholic bishop in Santa Fe (a province to the south of Corrientes) no one from INCUPO was disappeared, even though similar organizations were unfortunately targeted. However, Paia does remember that when she was a small child the military came to her house and ransacked their home looking for weapons and “communist” propaganda.
I asked her a lot of questions about her now deceased mother and we looked at old pictures of her family. Our conversation drifted to the ecumenical Taizé community in France and she rushed to find me a book with a chapter on Brother Roger de Taizé. You should read about his life if you get a chance! It is inspiring. She told me that the article in this book about him was incredibly powerful and impacted her heavily as well as one of the articles about Christian de Chergé, and Teresa de Lisieux (two people I hadn’t previously heard of, but will soon be reading about!) The book is titled, Vidas de fuego: Grandes figuras espirituales de la historia del sigle XX. In english that translates to Lives of Fire: Great Spiritual Figures of the Twentieth Century. Other people included in this book (14 people altogether) include WWII german political dissident and lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, catholic activist (United States) Dorothy Day, and Salvadoran Priest Oscar Romero who was assassinated during mass for protesting government mass killings. However, GUESS WHO ELSE was in this book!!
Paia’s MOTHER, Siliva Stengel (Pereda). Co-founder of INCUPO.
Wow. Mind blown. Paia says she doesn’t think her mother should necessarily be included in this book, but I am so excited to read the chapter on her!
After our awesome conversation, Paia, her 8 year old son, and I went to the beach and swam in the Paraná river. We spent several hours there and mate’d a bit too. I already felt like Paia and I were fairly established friends but I think our friendship grew a lot today. After the beach, Paia drove me around the neighborhoods close to her house and I realized how little I know of Corrientes as a city. I live and work in the city center and so I rarely go outside of that centralized bubble. I visit my godmother, Alicia and her family all the time but the bus goes directly to her front stoop so I don’t know Alicia’s neighborhood all that well. The Phillips, Hawthorne, Como, and Harrison neighborhoods in Minneapolis are all incredibly distinct from downtown Minneapolis, and likewise the city center in Corrientes is very different than the Laguna Seca, Apipe, and Quintana neighborhoods.
After I came home, Josh one of the other YAGM Argentina-Uruguay volunteers facebook messaged with me explaining why I was having so many troubles embedding my interactive map on the feria franca website. He’s essentially a computer genius and I am so glad that he is willing to spend time and energy helping me figure out my technology troubles.
After talking with Josh, I listened to music with Yani, who is my housemate and a super-wonderful-awesome friend. We also talked for awhile and then made plans to cook lunch together tomorrow.
Like previously stated, I am SO EXHAUSTED, but so content. If there are a ton of spelling/grammar errors forgive me as I’m posting this blog entry prior to editing it. I’ll edit it tomorrow. I’m just too tired right now.