Thursday, November 17, 2011

street life

The mission home is on a one-way street. Here in Argentina it is called “contramano” if you are going the wrong way on it, which I think is so much better than saying “you are going the wrong way on a one-way street”. When we first moved to Argentina I traveled contramano with various drivers and occasionally, still do, at which point the driver turns on the hazard lights, called permisso lights here, and carries on.

Two of the reasons that we traveled contramano so often was that we were following the GPS instructions, which don’t seem to know which streets are contramano, and the streets are not well marked. Remis drivers also travel contramano occasionally when the roads aren’t too busy and they are in a hurry, which only begins to speak to the numerous violations and road hazards that are rampant. Hence, the main reason that I don’t drive. Another reason is that our mission has a total of three cars. One for Presidente, one for the office and one for a senior missionary couple serving out in the campo.

I think that the street our house is on is pretty noisy and busy. It is going the right way from the train to Avenida del Libertador. Libertador is one of the main streets, running 16 miles through the province of Buenos Aires. It has an interesting history which you can read about on Wikipedia ( here is a picture from that website:


Of course, if you are riding the train, you are probably a walker and it doesn’t matter if the street is contramano or not. In addition, our street also connects to another busy road, so we do have plenty of vehicular traffic.

However, compared to places in our mission, our street is very quiet. Missionaries regularly tell me about the music that plays in their neighborhoods. Often, the music comes from a group of Argentine kids. I can’t decide if there are 5 or 6 of them because some of the pictures show 5 of them and some of the pictures show 6 of them.

Their most famous song Tirate un Paso plays all day long and all night long in some areas. The title of the song means something like Throw Me A Step. The dance that goes with the music is…well…jerky. On the streets many of the youth, including children who have just learned to walk, are dancing along with all of the rest of the gang. contratar-a-los-wachiturros1-300x158


The Wachiturros come from a very poor part of Argentina.  I think that the group actually named themselves after their subculture.


To me, the music is droning and repetitive, and I sincerely doubt that the lyrics meet the For Strength of Youth standards, but it is infused with so much slang that it is really hard to tell. Even the definition of wachiturro is a little tricky to follow:

The slang “wachiturro” comes from the combination of the words “wachi” which is a derivative from the word “wacho” which comes from the work “guacho” which is a slang term used on people, typically young. And “turro” is a slang term used on people who like wearing sportswear and that typically listen to cumbia.

The missionaries follow the guidelines in the White Handbook when it comes to listening to music, but they are out on the streets all day long so it is impossible for them not to hear…

At night the cumbian dancers

They lift their arms

And the wachiturros throw steps

Throw me a what?

Throw me a step

Go forward and throw a step…

Good-hearted people that would like to escape their poor lifestyle are attracted to the Church. They come to our beautiful church buildings and meet people who are trying to improve their lives.

They learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ from our missionaries who have similar feelings to the sons of Mosiah. They are “desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they [can] not bear that any human should perish.” The missionaries rejoice as their investigators make baptismal covenants and then work toward a day when they can go to the the intersection of Autopista Richieri y Puente 13 in the Ciudad Evita section of Buenos Aires


and make temple covenants.

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