Dial "M" for Maternal (chapter 10)

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There are many ways in which one can find his or herself shedding one's mortal coil and all of a sudden find themselves headed towards a bright light. If it ever has to happen, I pray that it would be swift and painless. Some may pass when you least expect it like the way ex president Nestor Kirchner did in Oct. of 2009. I remember the day like it was yesterday.

It was census day in Argentina. They had't done a census in over 10 years and thought it was about time. In the US and Canada the families would fill out a piece of paper with all the info on it and send it into the government for their record. Here in Argentina, on census day not a soul is to leave their house until the census workers have come by and counted you and the members of your household. Yes, you heard me correctly.....EVERYONE is required to stay in their homes. So how can grocery stores be open? They can't....EVERYTHING is shut, sealed, locked (you get the picture) Any store found open on census day will be end up with a handsome fine.

Anyway, we were all sitting around waiting to be counted or called to be counted when the news broke that ex president Nestor Kirchner had passed away. The news came as a shock to us all and for anyone who doesn't know Argentine politics, let me summarize it right now.Cristina Kirchner is the current president and her husband was Nestor Kirchner. The Kirchners were a power couple who had a plan that they were to keep taking turns getting voted in as president so that they could continue to preside over the people and remain in power over the other parties. Nestor Kirchner was a key figure in helping navigate the Argentine economy through the 2001 economic crisis.

October 2011 Argentina is set to have another election and the Kirchners had a plan to get Nestor voted in for another term as president while Cristina rested. Unfortunately, due to the passing of the president, it left the country in shock (I wouldn't say turmoil, the Argentines actually remained pretty calm), Not only that, Nestor Kirchner was a significant figure in the latin american political system and his death created a huge vacuum which Kristina and her staff had to work fill very quickly.

You briefly heard me mention in an earlier chapter on how I stood in line for 10 hrs to file past the closed coffin of the president. It would be an experience I would never forget. People were chanting and singing in the lineup in the spirit of strength and patriotism.Vendors were walking around selling food and drink to those in line who were waiting. While others were selling merchandise of Nestor and Kristina as well as Argentine flags. Flowers were also being sold by the dozen so that those coming to pay respect could lay them at the front of the Casa Rosada.

When I finally got into the Casa Rosada, the first thing I saw were bouquets everywhere sent by other diplomats to pay respect to the fallen president. A head of me in the line I could hear the sound of people crying out "Fuerza Cristina!!!" meaning "Strength Cristina" as well as clapping and whistling. It isn't only until I got closer that I realized what was happening. Cristina, the president was there beside the coffin. 

She was dressed in black with glasses that covered her eyes. The people would cheer, clap, and cry out to her the few seconds that they had in front of her before they ushered away. As soon as the Argentines left the casa rosada, as if on command they would burst in to tears. Argentines actually don't show dramatic displays of public emotion like we have come to believe latinos to be like. So seeing the cry one by one as soon as they got out into the open air was a rare sight.

 I highly doubt that any one of you will leave this earth through means of a heart attack while on family vacation your presidential palace in Calafate on census day. Your chances are quite unlikely that this would be your mode of shedding your mortal coil. But keeping in mind that when living, working, or visiting a 3rd world country like Argentina, there are some precautions to take.

There are the obvious ones like don't hold out expensive things in public or you'll get robbed (in other words, don't flash to the world that you have an iphone). Many people over here wear their backpack in front of them or like me, strap my bag over my body so a thief can't pull on my bag without pulling me along with them! Keep your things close to you. I've been pick-pocketed before but I am grateful that they were only cheap phones

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