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Villa de Lugano was an hour bus ride outside of Buenos Aires city lines. Broken bottles and candy wrappers lay strewn across the earth as we walked from our school bus to the town’s center. The sun was hot and only made the smell of days old garbage on the sides of the streets more pungent. Once we arrived at the town, we were greeted by a couple of teenagers who then escorted us into the village, acting as our guides as well as our window into this different world we were about to explore. We walked quietly, glancing around at the people of the village. They made no effort to hide that they were inspecting us right back. We were outsiders, with our nice clothing and digital cameras in hand, with our loud English speech and noticeably lighter skin.
We soon took a sharp left turn into a narrow alleyway. We walked with caution for there were little children as well as dirty sick looking dogs running in both directions past us. We walked into one home, noticing the greatly unsanitary state in which these people live, with rotting toilet bowls and broken glass bottles everywhere. What drew us further into the home were these three little children, two girls and one boy. They were playing with some broken toys and dirt from the ground beneath them, with the carefree and innocence that most young children have, regardless of their state of living. The youngest of the girls, after catching us take some photos of them began to almost strike a pose, smiling and loving all the attention she was getting from us. Behind her was a graffiti covered wall, one comment written in red letters that read, “MAMA TE AMO BARBI.” It was a simple statement but for some reason it stuck with me. I guess I didn’t expect to see any reference to something I would understand but I suppose there are certain things, like Barbie, that are universal in the world of childhood, no matter the culture.
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