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Monday, February 27, 2012

Reeling from a Real Rail Disaster


 "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name;  you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through fires of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you."
Isaiah 43: 1-2

As I sat on my bed in Canada reading those words from this ancient book, those words jumped off the page and became so much more than just words......they were a revelation. Especially having read them the day after one of Argentina's worst rail disasters.  The day after Mardi Gras is Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday is supposed to be a time for mourning and reflection as Lent commences.  This years particular Ash Wednesday in Buenos Aires would be met not just by mourning but by chaos and tragedy.

 Argentina's railway system has long been under criticism and scrutiny with pressure on the government to create better regulations. I've been on these trains many times and one glance at these trains and I could tell that they definitely did not have the maintenance of  a Disney theme park ride.

It was on a Wednesday morning that started out like any other. This would be the very first run of the day and unfortunately it would be the only run that day.  As the train pulled into the station, it failed to slow down and smashed into the barrier at full speed on the platform, causing the first two carriages to collide and literally mesh into each other.

The end result was 703 injured, 51 dead, the gov't under greater scrutiny,  the public and the world reminded once again that in life there are no guarantees. Perhaps fear based North American thinking should tell me that I shouldn't take the train and that will be the way to spare my life and live longer.  One look at 6 lane Avenida de Julio, the widest traffic lane in the world and you would realize that this way of thinking is folly. I can guarantee you that from what I've seen, there are times where you are far safer sitting on a train than you are as a pedestrian being pitted against Buenos Aires traffic.

It is also humbling to know that the station that it happened at wasn't just some station in the middle of Argentina in another province that I will never see or use. "Estacion Once" is actually 20 mins away from where I rent a room in someone's house.  Unlike other Latin American countries where visitors and tourists are exempt from the troubles that go on in the country, each one of us that live here know in our heart of hearts that being an expat does not increase our level of safety.

So what is the answer?  The answer is to live on. After two days of mourning with the flags flown at half mast, the government and the people get up and begin all over again. If any of us were to live in fear and not get on a train unless we did a bunch of research to know the history of the line, none of us would get anything done. Due to poor records and inconsistent maintenance, literally any train that I get on could be the ill-fated one. There is no way to tell a perfectly well maintained train from a faulty one. 

Because at the end of the day, there is only one train that truly matters..........and that is the train that is scheduled to take me home to glory. It is only train in the world that is always on time, never too late and never too early  :)

CCTV of Buenos Aires Train Crash

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Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas