January 12, 2010
A couple months ago I decided on a hard choice to make. I had played soccer for all my life and I decided to give it up because I was not happy with my team because we were not winning and they didn’t take the game seriously like I wanted them to. I think I could of just switched teams and been happy, but I quit it for good and I am dealing with some regret from giving up my lifelong passion. However, this team was not the one that I had loved so much. A couple years before I was on a great team that was quite successful and we had gone to the state semis. It was on this team that I had gone to Argentina with.

Four years in the past I was on the big plane on my way to my first country outside of the United States. I was totally consumed with nervousness and excitement, but that soon ended temporarily as my first international flight also consumed my energy and I fell asleep and woke up many times. The thirteen-hour flight felt like forever on a cramped plane, but it was worth it when I heard the pilot say we were starting to descend. I was about to jump through the roof with excitement as I scanned the land under us outside the window as we descended lower and lower. The wheels touched the ground and I couldn’t hold it anymore and I had to get off the plane and explore the new world of travel.

The airport was surprisingly similar to the Houston airport. We landed in the capital city of Buenos Aires, and I saw our two-story bus. It was the coolest thing I have ever seen, but the long drive to Rosario would change my view of Argentina. We got out of the city and the land was stricken with poverty. I would see kids walking on the side of the highway barefoot, adults riding old bikes where there was not a shop or building for miles. It surprised me when almost everyone we passed saw us Americans and waved to us and smiled as if we were happiness driving next to them. They looked so joyous, when I thought they should have been downcast. The drive was an endless one as it was 5 hours but felt like 9 by the time we finally arrived to our destination. We stopped to have lunch at a farm that someone had arranged for. The person there was so happy to see us all, and she had made everyone of us an Argentinean meal similar to our barbeque called asado. They served they’re classic food equivalent to our chicken potpie and some vegetables. After we had eaten we all went out to explore her farm and found she grew oranges mostly with her vast lines of orange trees. We were on our way and in Rosario before I even knew it. I woke up from my nap and saw buildings all around us and I asked my mom, “Mom, where are we?” She replied saying, “We’re in Rosario sleepyhead.” I suddenly was up and unloading the bags from under our amazing, monster bus and taking them into the hotel. When I was walking around outside the hotel I realized that this city was also full of poverty, the difference was that the poverty was actually mostly in the city not out of the city limits.

The day we got to Rosario we started practicing. We were going to play some Argentina teams our age and we needed our practice. We practiced in the morning and the evening and toured and walked around during the day. We visited several professional soccer team stadiums and studied many of the city’s memorials and sights. We played three games when I was in the country, and we surprisingly won all three because for Argentineans; soccer is not a game, but a lifestyle. These players played with worn cleats and fields that were dirt and rocks. I felt so bad for them, but they were so happy just like the people on the side of the highway. After our last game we switched our jerseys with each other and we put on each other’s jerseys as a sign of respect and kindness. These kids were so full of joy and I couldn’t understand how they could be, because they had almost nothing.

It wasn’t until on our way home on the plane I figured out why they were so joyful. I believe that they were so untroubled because no matter what they had or didn’t have they just wanted to live life to the fullest no matter what. It wasn’t about the materialistic things in the world; it is just about being happy and loving God. They just let all their worries slip away when they’re playing soccer and I think that is their time to just relax and let all the stress of their lives float away. However, for the people on the side of the road that were not playing soccer, I think they wanted to just live life and not get worked up on what they wished they had. I learned a very valuable lesson from Argentina; that you should not worry about the materialistic things of the world and just love to live in God’s wonderful creation.

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