What it is like to re-enter a country that used to be your homeland?

What it is like to re-enter a country that used to be your homeland?

Back in Argentina, it is day 14 without a decent, enjoyable shower. Two weeks have passed since a water pipe in my working class neighborhood in Córdoba inexplicably started malfunctioning, leaving hundreds without properly working running water. I feel forced to tone down my complaints to my mom, as she usually tells me no te quejes, don’t whine. And immediately I am reminded that this situation is actually not that surprising.

Before my return back to my home, I spent the last year of my life studying in Germany. And in Europe, showers are always there for you. And I can always regulate the water temperature to achieve a precise 38 degrees Celsius. But here I am, feeling that if I don’t shower, then I don’t want to get dressed because I would get my clothes dirty, so I might as well stay in my pajamas.

When exactly did I become so demanding? Through my whole adolescence, I never minded the conditions. Suddenly, I need to keep up with my European exigencies that include working through the summer.

I have been pampered by a European elitism.

It is all about competition.

It is difficult to reenter Latin America and ignore evident structural problems with our land and  people.

Upon my arrival back in Argentina, my father took me to get bloodwork done; afterwards, we went to a cafe for some breakfast. But it was there when the memory of my country’s underdeveloped standards bubbled at the surface – I could count the amount of times I’ve had a checkup on my fingers.

I remember feeling ashamed in Europe, when I told my then boyfriend how we didn’t do the whole “general medical examination” thing, that one only went to the doctor as one got sufficiently sick as to go to the doctor.

I suspect now that it has something to do with a very strong resistance to the overcoming of tradition. And tradition means, to me, that my grandmother told me to mistrust doctors, that my parents are absolutely certain that the mechanic wants to scam them, and that no one wants to leave their money to bankers – quite frankly, why would they?

It is easy to ignore privilege once you become used to it, once it starts feeling less like a privilege and more like a right.

Reliable water and electricity services suddenly seem to be a privilege to me, and a very whiny, very Europeanized voice in the back of my head asks why they have to be.

The answer I like giving myself is that the ubiquitously human component of everything in Latin America is a double-edged sword. All the passion, all the little markets, all the street art, all the chatting in public transportation: it is all full of what makes us people.

Yet so is all the corruption, the nepotism, the enthusiasm for the Olympics and the indifference towards Brazil’s political crisis, Argentina’s political crisis, Venezuela’s political crisis, the perpetual crises, of law and man, that has polluted our continent and robbed us of a Western normalcy.

This humanity is what makes coming back home such a paradoxical experience. That, and the very conflicting emotions that visiting the places you love after so much time has gone by can bring around. Because even though I’ve only been gone for a year, I feel like I’ve been cut across by time, and Argentina can only offer me space. The space that I love, sure, but the which I can’t seem to visit again in the same way that I used to. Be it the end of the pink tide, my coming of age, or my newfound love for very hot, very daily showers.

Lucas Davidenco is Yale Young Global Scholars 2016. He is studying for an International Baccalaureate at UWC Robert Bosch College in Freiburg, Germany. He was born in Argentina as the middle one of five...

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