Monday, May 20, 2013

Day 4: First Day of Service

Jardín Los Pinitos
We woke up at 6am and were downstairs for breakfast by 7am. Jimena came by after breakfast to pick us up and guide us through the city to José León Suárez, Buenos Aires. It was a 1.5 hour commute-first by subway, then by train, and finally by bus. 
Using the public transportation system made us feel like true Argentinians. Our long commute mirrors the journey many low income people have to go through everyday, especially those that travel to downtown Buenos Aires to work. This fact made us appreciate how lucky we are in Austin and realize that most us don't have to commute at all when we are back home. 
We pushed our way onto the subway, which was crowded with people heading to work. We stuck out like sore thumbs because of the bright colors we were wearing; Argentinians usually wear dark colors, especially in the winter.
Next was the hour long train ride to Retiro. The slow-moving train was like a tour of the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Some of us spent the entire train ride looking out the window, and some of us took advantage of the long train ride to catch up on our sleep. The last leg of our trip was by bus, and we soon arrived to "Los Pinitos" to begin our service project. 
As soon as we walked through the door we were kindly welcomed by Cecilia, the owner of the daycare center. She along with her brother Cristian, his sons, and local volunteers manage and run the daycare center. We also met the most adorable children we had ever seen. Due to the construction that is going on, only the families that absolutely have nowhere else to go are here at the daycare, which is about 15 kiddos. We ate breakfast (again!) and were told what we would be working on for the day. Our project is to clean up the backyard area and make it suitable for children to play in. 
When we saw the backyard, we knew we had a long week ahead of us. There was so much to clean up and so many things to build. Half of us worked outside clearing debris, and half of us stayed inside working with the adorable children or helping Esteban in the kitchen. After working for a couple of hours, we ate a traditional Argentinian meat and potato pie-yum. It was back to work after that for a couple more hours and then we had merienda, which is the meal after lunch but before dinner. Every meal in Argentina is followed by a "mate" break. Mate is a traditional Argentine tea that is drunk in a special cup with little or no sugar. Mate breaks serve as opportunities to socialize and relax before going on with your day. 
It was a wonderful first day at the daycare and there is still a lot to do, it will definitely be a busy week. We took the bus back to the train station, the train back to the subway station, and the subway back to our hostel. We had dinner and went to bed early because we know there is still a lot to accomplish at the Jardín tomorrow and for the rest of the week. 

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