Sunday, October 23, 2005

A comment on commercialism

Today the Social Gospel Today goes international. ¡I am posting this live from El Calafate, Argentina!

My stay at the estancia has come to and end (there will be many stories and much philosophizing to share), and I leave this afternoon for Buenos Aires. I wanted to quickly comment, however, on my initial reactions upon entering the tourist town of El Calafate (gateway to Argentine Patagonia) after having lived on an estancia literally in the middle of nowhere for almost 3 months. Forgive me for my bad English... I haven't been using it.

Riding along with a stranger who had offered me a ride back to Calafate (people are very neighborly here in Patagonia), I felt eager to be in town and to do the tourist thing. Upon returning, however, I found myself disgusted by the rampant commericalism of everything - the whole town seems to be geared towards pitching Argentine souveniers to wealthy American and European tourists. Having lived without much luxury and commerical exposure for three months, I had feared that I would be especially susceptible to its charms. My reaction, however, was quite the contrary. Not only did I not want to buy anything, but I was perplexed by why people would spend guady amounts of money (to an Argentine, but relatively cheap to a middle class American) on dressed up versions of things that gauchos (Argentine cowboys) use to get by each and every day.

Thank God that I can now appreciate that. My only fear, however, is that it might take 3 months away from civilization to come to this realization. ¿Any way we can get 100 million Americans to spend a couple months on an estancia?


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