the simple way: life in a community in rural Argentina

On Saturday the 1st of October I arrived in the center of General Rodriguez (a town of about 40,000 just outside of Buenos Aires). There I was picked up by some very friendly people who looked like hippies, I guess, with long hair, beards and simple, baggy clothes. These were the people of the Twelve Tribes (part of an international community) in Argentina, that I would be working with for two weeks, through WWOOF.org. Their main place, an old colonial house on a big piece of land with lots of trees and plants, looked like a little paradise.

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This community consists of about 50 people, of all ages. They come from different countries, mostly from Argentina, some from the rest of Latin America and a few from Europe and Australia. During my time there were also some other WWOOFers, from the US, Canada and France, that I hung out with a lot. All really cool people!

the WWOOFers!

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To make a living and to keep busy, they have a farm, a bakery and a store. They live of the vegetables that they use and sell, and what they produce and sell in the bakery and the store. What’s really cool is that everything they produce is organic.
I mostly got to work on the land: doing some weeding and (de)construction work. A few times I worked in the bakery, making bread and granola, and packaging stuff. One day I helped out at a food fair where the community would have a booth, and we built a stone oven, that they would use to bake pizzas. Yes, we BUILT it, just for the weekend. Crazy but awesome!
It was simple work, but most of the time I enjoyed it, also because I got to be and talk with some amazing people. For example, weeding while sharing bible stories or quoting Monty Python is actually a great way to spend the day. The heavier work was more difficult to enjoy, it was then I realized I’m a white collar boy from the city who’s hardly in shape, ha!

community also means: washing the dishes together

interesting vehicle

I got to learn a lot about the beliefs and way of life of the Twelve Tribes. They basically live according to some verses from the Bible, most importantly Acts 2:44, which describes how the first believers in Yashua (or Jesus, as most people call him) lived: “All the believers were together and had everything in common.” So everyone here has given up all of their possessions, some have even given up their family. There is a lot more to say about it, but you can read their website, or ask me about it.
I talked a lot with some of the community members. Some of them were quite ‘preachy’, but never in an annoying way, they just wanted to challenge us (me and the other WWOOFers), and they also listened to what we had to say, they were genuinely interested in our lives. Especially with one man from El Salvador I spoke many times, he was one of the nicest people I have ever met.
Actually I can say that about pretty much all the people here, they are just so nice and good to anyone, no matter what you believe.

Some more impressions in pictures/videos:

Every morning and evening there is a gathering with music, singing, dance and time for sharing and prayer

Yom Kipur celebration, with dance..

In the community they celebrate the Jewish feasts. While I was there, it was the time of Yom Kipur and Sukkot! For Sukkot, everyone builds their own sukka (hut) and sleeps in it, so of course I had to as well..

"it's not quite ready yet.."

Oh, now it is ready! We slept in here for two nights

cleaning up the place

Biking through the streets of General Rodriguez

you don't know how happy I was to ride a bike. Yes I'm Dutch!

the streets of General Rodriguez

Looking back, I can’t say I fully agree with all the beliefs of the Twelve Tribes, but being here definitely challenged my own faith and the way I practice it.
These people certainly live out what they believe and you can see that it gives a lot of joy, to them and to the people that meet them. And I could see how much power there is in community life. After The Shelter, being here was another confirmation that this is the kind of life I want to live; life in community.

So it was an amazing experience, and it was a bit difficult to leave (they wanted me to stay, too!). I feel like I already have one of the best parts of my trip behind me. But it’s time to move on! I am now in (San Carlos de) Bariloche, a city about halfway down Argentina, close to the border of Chile. This is Patagonia, the Lake District to be more precise, which is incredibly beautiful. I’ll spend the next week here, making hike and bike trips and crossing into Chile for a day or two.

Chao!

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5 Responses to “the simple way: life in a community in rural Argentina”

  1. a journey called life » Blog Archive » Friends and familiarity in Brazil Says:

    […] it was more or less on the way, I decided to visit another Twelve Tribes community (like I did in Argentina). There are three in Brazil, all in the state of Paraná, and I stopped at the one that’s […]

  2. a journey called life » Blog Archive » Hospitality and homesickness in Colombia Says:

    […] much else to do than to carry on and see how things go. A Colombian guy who I’d met in the Twelve Tribes in Argentina had offered me to stay with him and his family in Bogota, but I hadn’t heard from him in a […]

  3. a journey called life » Blog Archive » California: a perfect ending Says:

    […] consists mostly of a grapefruit- and a avocado orchard, and a big vegetable garden. Just like in Argentina and Brazil, here I witnessed people radically following Jesus Christ, sharing everything and being […]

  4. Kathy Says:

    What is the web address of the 12 tribes community in Argentina? Thanks.

    Edwin Reply:

    Hi Kathy,

    It’s http://www.docetribus.com.ar/ .

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