I’m having a few difficulties (nothing serious) so maybe this has translated to the way I write.
In spite of this we have much to be grateful for. We have a beautiful family, the kids are fine, our marriage is well, and we suffer no needs like so many people in Argentina do.
With this in mind today we decided to do a small trip to the town of Lujan, famous for its beautiful basilica.
I made reservations this morning and we had lunch in a small restaurant owned and run by Franciscan nuns from Africa and other countries.
It’s been 6 years since I last went there but as always, the food was great and the attention couldn’t be better, they always have a couple prayers on the table before dinner and the place itself has an air of tranquility about it.
The black African nuns that do the waitressing are the kindest, sweetest people I ever had the pleasure to cross paths with.
After lunch we went to the basilica.
As we walked towards it I found a small militaria store that happened to have a few ammo boxes with magazines, 1911 and Hi Power mags, as well as a few FAL mags. I picked 4 “Sistema” 1911 mags that looks ok and we continued walking. We were close enough to the basilica and as always I was impressed by the beauty of the building.
Signs of what was to come came next, as we entered a small store I had visited before with my family, a place where they sell crosses, chains, rosaries and religious medals.
I remembered the place well. I had been impressed as a child by the amount of silver and gold chains, crosses, beautifully crafted works of art that filled the store.
But the decadence was now obvious. Those same display cases were now filled with cheap plastic copies, silver and gold plated jewelry and religious items of low quality. Other displays just had mugs of that of various soccer teams. The virgin of Lujan with a Boca shield glued to it.
When I asked for a silver rosary the man went to a corner and brought one. Instead of a shop full of these as they once had, he now had 3 or 4. The rest was plastic or cheap plated metal.
When we got close to the basilica the view fit the decadence we had seen in the shop: A sea of poor, dirty people. Loud, rude, pushing each other.
Its not just poverty guys. It’s the lack of culture, lack of manners. Everyone yelled, a women threw a dirty diaper on the sidewalk as we passed by, others spit, more yelling and laughing like brutes. Everyone looked dirty and smelled. A bum sitting on the floor reached out to touch my son, we hurried away.
Inside the same picture repeated itself. Dirty people, sweaty. The mass of people laughed and yelled, no respect whatsoever for the holy place. The stink inside because of the dirty people made us sick and we barely sat to say a couple prayers and left.
A few tourists took pictures here and there. Some didn’t like the patrons any more than we did. I suppose others just consider it part of the trip to a third world country, just like they would if traveling to India. But for me it was sad because I’ve been there many years ago and I know what has happened to us, how we once knew better, how we’ve slipped into this grotesque shadow of what we once were as a society.
The beautiful building only contrasted with the occupants, and it pained to think that, the same community that had once build that, now could hardly put two words together and lived in shacks.
The argentine society ( at least in general terms) hasn’t evolved, hasn’t stayed the same, its gone backwards if that’s possible.