Our contract with Via.ev allows us to take 24 days off. Since we’ve got two additional days off every week, and we can put those days wherever we want in that week (We can take Saturday and Sunday off in one week, and Monday and Tuesday in the following week. Which means we can be away from work for four days without using a single one of the 24 days to travel!), we’re able to travel quite a bit. Therefore, I will talk about the trips I’ve been on so far, in the next couple of posts.
On our first trip, we went to Lucila del Mar. Lucila del Mar is a little town right next to the Atlantic Ocean, in the province of Buenos Aires. Maybe you have heard of Mar del
Plata, which is THE party/beach city in Argentina. Well, Lucila del Mar is near Mar del Plata. Near in Argentina can mean up to three to five hours by car.
But it wasn’t just me. The entire children’s home of San Marcos plus Julio’s second children’s home from Embalse went as well. Well … I went with them. The children’s home tries to visit Lucila every two years. Since it’s looking pretty good donation-wise, they’ll go back this December, though.
The weeks before, we had to prepare a ton of backpacks and bags for the kids. So it took
us about an hour or two to load all of the stuff onto the bus, and then the trip began. Twenty hours in bus, next to 50 kids. Twenty hours sounds like an inhumane amount of hours. I don’t know if I have mentioned in one of the earlier posts but the buses are quite comfortable here in South America, since everybody, including business people, is traveling by bus, so it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected it to be, considering I hate sitting in a car for only four hours in Germany.
Julio rented a whole vacation area for the children’s homes. Which means multiple buildings, a big kitchen, a big dining room, two huge rooms with about 40 beds in each room, one for the boys and one for the girls, a few private rooms, etc. I think you get the picture.
We, the German volunteers, slept in the huge rooms with the kids. I’ll briefly talk about a problem, which we are still having here in San Marcos until now. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a problem to have to sleep in the huge rooms with the children. I mean of course somebody has to look over the kids. But nobody told us anything about that beforehand. And almost all of the other coworkers had their own private rooms. We are younger, more energetic, and „only“ volunteers, it’s alright to sleep in the room with all of the kids, but just freaking tell and inform us beforehand about what’s going on, instead of sweeping everything under the carpet until the event, problem, issue, whatever you want to call it, is suddenly there, which makes us feel like kind of useless and unappreciated. So communication is obviously lacking. To this day, we’re still not sure if this is only the way it is with the people we work with or a cultural thing. Maybe you’ve heard of low context cultures (Germany, and the US, for example) vs high context cultures (South America, for example), which could be hard for us low context people. But we haven’t noticed it this strong with the other Argentinians we know. Other than that, emotions are quite a big deal in Argentina, messing with rationality at times. They call themselves the Italians of Latin America for a reason. There have been a few other great examples as well in those few days in Lucila, considering taking turns with the chores, washing the children’s dirty underwear (we were supposed to wash, then we weren´t , then we were, then we weren´t), playing with the kids, eating dinner and so on. Sometimes we’re „Tíos“/Uncles
just like our coworkers, often when it comes to work, which has to be done, and sometimes we’re just the „voluntarios“, when it comes to making decisions, for example. It’s also this hierarchy thing in the children’s home, I must admit, we were told about right at the beginning, when we started working. In a well working hierarchy for me, though, respect and appreciation should still exist, even between the highest rank and the lowest rank. And I hate to say it, but it’s much worse with the women than with the men. For example, not telling anybody what’s going on, acting … sorry … pissed and letting everybody guess, what the problem might be, instead of just saying something. Man, I made all of this sound really bad, and it is indeed a problem we still have to deal with on a daily basis but it’s still pretty manageable and an interesting experience, and definitely worth mentioning, though.
Anyway, after unloading and unpacking most of the things, we head straigth to the beach, which was quite different compared to the beaches I know from Turkey. It was a bit like back then in the US, in Georgia. The sun was really strong, but there was so much
wind, that you were actually cold. You might imagine, I had the worst sunburn of my life, not at all being the person to get burnt easily. There were almost no waves at the shore and the water was really cold. I’ve read that apparently the water is warmest in April here, having had multiple months to warm up, so the ocean is obviously quite a fridge in December.
The Lucila-Routine was more or less getting up in the morning, breakfast, going to the beach, eating lunch, beach, dinner, and last but not least going to bed.
One time at the beach, Leon, Svenja, and me swam further out, where the waves were bigger, to do what we called „wave jumping“. We took Antonio, one of the older boys (14) from our Hogar, with us because the kids were actually only allowed to play in the belly button deep water, and we thought that he should have a more intense experience this vacation than just playing with the seven-year-olds. To this day, that’s still one of my favorite moments this year. Both Svenja and Leon have never seen waves
becoming as big as they were back then, and Tonio had the time of his life. Apparently and unfortunately the current was too strong for people to be out that far, so we were called back by lifeguards after an hour or so.
One of the days the kids went to a place very similar to Sea Life. We four didn’t join because we needed a day off, so we walked down town to see more than just the beach of Lucila. Other than
that, we did a day of walking along the beach to the neighbor city San Bernardo and back, having a storm coming up with crazy lightning strikes. Eating dinner with the other Tíos the last night together and yeaaaaaah … did I forget anything? O yes, watching the sunrise one of the days, which was really beautiful, despite pretty cloudy.
All in all, the days in Lucila with the children’s home were more work than vacation, even though we spent so much time at the beach. But it was a really really really nice experience, going to the ocean with the children, many of them, seeing this amount of water for the first time in their lives, and I’d love to do it again!
Well, that’s it for today! In the next post I’ll be talking about my trip to the neighboring country Uruguay! Stay tuned!