I started blogging primarily as a method to communicate with family and friends and to document for the girls our time and experiences on planet Argentina.   But as I have also mentioned before, writing is therapeutic to me.  Just taking the time to put what I am feeling into words, settles my mind and acts as a de-stressor.  I have had less of a desire to write since arriving back to Argentina, which in my case is a good thing.  However, after this long week, I am feeling the need to write and share a sad event that affected our community.  I have felt useless all week wishing there was something I could do, so perhaps sharing this story will provide some awareness and prevention.

I will share first for my journal a little information on our transition back into the land of Argentino’s.  Our return voyage from Denver was filled with one delayed flight after another, but somehow we managed to arrive in Buenos Aires just a few hours later than scheduled.  I did not even mind the chaos this trip as there was no sobbing cries from Lyndsey’s seat begging me to let her off the plane.  This time I looked over at her seat and she already had her headphones on and was complaining about the movie selection.   With no time to spare after we landed, Lyndsey went straight from the airport to the school to participate in a Buddy Orientation as she was asked to serve as a buddy for a new student arriving at the school.  This was a good sign of things to come! When we did finally arrive “home” we were greeted by Margarita and Tug, and we were are feeling good to be back in Argentina.  Our remise(taxi driver) had to work so hard at the airport to get the luggage in the van, he literally gave up on me when we arrived at home, he dropped all 13 pieces of luggage on the curb and I could hear the tires squeal as he sped away.  Margarita was by my side and what normally would have taken a few days to unpack, with Margarita’s leadership took a few hours.

You see the morning we were leaving Denver I was at Wal-Mart at 5:00 a.m., desperately buying anything I could squeeze into any open space in our luggage.   My, “We survived just fine without it – we do need all that stuff”, attitude, had succumbed to my anxiety and I was clearing entire shelves into my shopping cart.  Needless to say our 13 pieces of luggage were at max weight and we had our work cut out for us.

From the moment we arrived back in BA the difference from last semester to this one has been night and day.  The benefits of our time in Argentina are starting to become clear.   The international lifestyle is agreeing with Lyndsey as she is reaching new heights in independence and is a sweet, smart, extremely mature young lady.  Doug and I are really taking pride in watching her blossom.   Lauryn is thriving and gaining more confidence each week.  She continues to be a very sweet girl with a heart of gold; I pray she never loses that.   Her Castellano (Argentine Spanish) pronunciation is muy bonita! I am proud of myself as I am reading Spanish very well, but I struggle tremendously with pronunciation in terms of speaking and understanding.   Lyndsey is getting the complicated sentence structure down and is really coming along, but has not mastered the pronunciation.  Doug has no time for any Spanish during his busy day and his office is of course English speaking, so he just continues to speak to everyone in English, hoping they will understand him.   So the only family member  to have mastered the Argentine pronunciation is Lauryn.  In our defense her age has a lot to do with that.  Doug, Lyndsey and I have missed that window in our developing brains to easily learn a language.  So our little Spanish sponge is handy tool to have around.  She helps me with my Spanish homework; she translates for me at the stores.  When Lauryn is around Margarita takes the easy route and talks directly to Lauryn, Whatever!

Both girls are playing soccer with the school and Lyndsey is blowing us away with her effort and was asked last week to practice with the older team’s squad.  Lauryn is also playing soccer with the Argentine girls club, Club Andes.  I plan to write an entire blog on this experience.  She is gaining much from her time at the club and the experience with the unbelievably skilled and not always so friendly Argentine girls. The two older retired gentlemen who run the program once played for the Argentine National team.  It does not get any better than this.  What an experience!  They do not speak a word of English so Lauryn has to focus not only on her footskills but her Spanish skills as well.

Both girls just returned from huge trips.  Lyndsey went with the 7th and 8th grade honor choir to El Calfate http://www.elcalafate.gov.ar/, and Lauryn participated in a school swim meet in Mar Del Plata http://www.turismomardelplata.gov.ar/.  I am thankful to god everyday for the experiences he is providing to our children.  This was a big step for me to let them go.  I think the Argentines are helping me strike a parenting balance.  Parenting for Argentines is unlike any common methods we are accustomed to in the states.  Kids are given lots of freedom and the more affluent children are raised exclusively by nannies.   Parents are more hands off and helicopter parenting is as foreign to them as recycling.   But seeing how self sufficient these kids are has helped me realize, I have to protect but also prepare the girls.  My helicopter parenting will not allow them to develop the skills they need to make it on their own someday.  So I let them fly a little in hopes I am preparing them and me for the day they need to make it own their own.

I have been riding high since my return to Argentina.  My days are filled with fun instead of chores, I have amazing friendships and my kids are loving their school and thriving in this environment.  Yet life/God has a way of humbling us and this week I was brought quickly back to reality and once again reminded “we are not in control”.

One of the best parts of this experience is living amongst an ex-pat community.  Sometimes I jokingly refer to us as the Amish.  Of course that usually requires a bit of explanation to my non American friends.   Like the Amish our lives have slowed down from our fast pace American lifestyle.  We are separated from the rest of our society/culture so we tend to hold on tight to one another.  The community and friendships make up for all the comforts we left behind. Whatever hurdles are thrown our way, we know we have a community to back us up.  We are each other’s family.

So it was not surprising to see the overwhelming support for one of our community members in need.  Lilly and her family had just arrived in BA in July on assignment with the US Embassy.  I had not yet had the opportunity to meet this new family nor did many people in our community, but that did not stop any of us from getting on our knees in prayer and doing whatever we could to provide encouragement and support during their agonizing ordeal.   Lilly, the oldest of four children in her family, had just started kindergartner and was barely getting settled into her new life in Argentina when she was stricken with a severe E.coli infection.  Lilly was in an induced coma for 12 days as doctors tried to rid her body of toxins that entered her blood stream and was shutting down her organs.  Lilly was taken off life support last week as the infection called HUS claimed her precious life.  This disease is contracted by ingesting food tainted with E.coli.   The impact on our community is nothing but complete shock and sadness.  So many people who had never even met this family provided support in any way possible, we were organized and ready to support them through what we were told would be a very long recovery, we were not expecting this outcome and we are not dealing with it very well.   Bottom line to our community and my preaching to you today, stay away from minced meat as we refer to it here, or ground beef as it is called in the states.  If you must get ground beef have it ground from a select piece of meat.  Statistics are flying via email through our community that indicates there are just as many cases of HUS in the US.   Cook your meat and eggs thoroughly, and wash all your vegetables before you eat them.  Take a minute to read this link  http://www.safetables.org/index.cfm

Unfortunately no one seems to have any words this week that make us feel better and after all my talk about “therapeutic writing”, I can’t find any either.

Keep the prayers coming, we miss you.