Friday 22nd February signified a significant anniversary here in Buenos Aries. One year ago there was a train crash that killed 51 people (including a pregnant woman) and injured more than 700 hundred (some figures report at more than 800) at Once Station.
While this is not the worst rail disaster in the history of Argentina, it signifies a breaking point with people as it happened 6 months after another large train crash and seems to represent failures within the government, with reports of numerous train crashes occurring at not infrequent intervals. I am not entirely sure if all, but certainly the Once train line in question, is state funded. My understanding of things are that funding appears to be in decline, or at the very least, being spent inappropriately, with allegations of corruption being rife. The Argentine people have had a belly full and want to see improvement and to feel safe using the trains again (I think that they want a lot more, but this is a starting pint at least), and for this, Plaza de Mayo was full of people to demonstrate about this state of affairs, and to remember the loved ones lost. Those who died in a tragedy that they feel could so easily have been averted. With adequate funding appropriate replacement of engines and maybe more importantly brakes could have been implemented and prevented this disaster, at least many say. There has been promise of further investment, but one thing that people feel is lacking, is an apology and a sense that the government are willing to admit that this was their fault. The trial of the driver of the train is expected to start soon, and he has consistently maintained that he attempted to apply the brakes, but they failed, and he was unable to slow the he train adequately. Suspiciously, one of the key witnesses in the upcoming trial, a line operator the day of the crash, had reported that the train was late that morning and to make up time the driver was travelling too quickly. It was for this reason that the train hit the buffers at the end of the line. This witness was shot 4 times and killed while waiting at a bus stop just a few weeks ago. I wonder if the truth of what has happened and what may still be happening, will ever be known?
You may be wondering why I am mentioning all of this triviality, and part of it is that I am insanely boring and that I actually find this sort of stuff interesting in order to attempt to understand the culture here. The other part of it is so that I can show you some of the video and images that we took while we were at the demonstration, within the context of the understanding what they are all about. 🙂
Our arrival at the demonstration:
Working out the t-shirt drying process:
People printing the t-shirts before your very eyes:
Music from the demonstration:
After feeling that we had seen as much Spanish spoken as our minds could tolerate, we set off for the 15 minute walk home. On the way, we happened to chance an A-sign on the street that mentioned a natural café just 60 metres down the street from where we were standing! Curious, and with little to lose, we headed off for what turned into a fun little evening encounter.
The café is called Vita, and had a range of cakes on display, some stating that they are raw, and most if not all being vegan! Sara was starting to convulse with glee at this point! 🙂 As always, my laser like focus on obtaining cheaper, and more reliable food kicks in. They had an area near the entrance which had a few things like the little portable Green Map of Buenos Aires and the surrounding area, which is the new and improved version of the map that I received from Kara a week or so ago! Although, as mentioned there is a digital version, so really the paper version may be a little unnecessary. While I was looking around at this stuff the waitress came over and I mentioned my usual about lacking a brain and therefore intelligence in Spanish was beyond me, but the gods smiled and she said that she spoke English! Woohoo!! There on in Sara and I chatted with her for an hour and had a really fun chat time!! She has been to London and loved it there! Do not get me wrong, London does have some appeal, but I often fail to see it when the place that a person is coming from is so glorious in the weather department! However, I am sure it probably has something to do with taking your immediate surroundings for granted, and finding the outside world a little more mystical than it actually is! We covered some of the more delightful topics, such as: the Falklands, life in Somerset, organic food comparison of Britain to Argentina, veganism in general, and relationships, so not my usual range, but we will go back and tick off religion and politics at a future date!
We have since received an email from her and we intend to visit her on Monday, and catch up on our news of the area, organic food supplies, and to get Sara so much dessert that she may actually pop! 🙂