This I Believe

Elizabeth - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 27, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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Roses of a Different Hue

I first ventured alone to a different world to meet a friend and her mother when I was eleven. I passed through security alone and boarded the plane. The flight to Argentina was one of the longest I have yet taken and was only aggravated by the man to my right, poking me to remind me to “Go fish!” in his heavy Hispanic accent. I had made the mistake of teaching him to play early in the trip and he continued to want to play through the night until we reached Buenos Aires. After finally arriving at the apartment where I would be spending the next two months and sleeping for sometime, I wandered to the lobby and around the block, discovering a small florist shop around the corner. Inside were the most beautiful roses I have ever seen. The stems were long, the petals were as large as goose eggs, and the colors were so effervescent it was hard to believe that they had been cut from their nutrient source. I stayed in Argentina one month, bought roses each week, and adored every minute I spent there.

Last summer I made my way to Ecuador to live for a month with a host family. The first day on the streets of Quito, I discovered the flower markets. Here, the roses were thick and heavy with an excess of petals and in the crispest shades of pinks, reds, and whites. The stems had few thorns and were a refreshing green. I bought a dozen roses each day (though each flower lasted ten days) and by the end of my vacation, the house was so full of roses that one could not enter a room without seeing the reds or pinks fresh from the Ecuadorian greenhouses.

Here, I miss the roses. American roses are scrawny and stubby as compared with the roses of South America and cost twice the amount for half the quality. I’ve learned that one must reach outside her boundaries to find the best quality roses. There are such beauties beyond the precincts of our daily lives that few deign to unearth. I believe that the quality of life and culture in other countries varies so greatly from my own that living in a distinctly new garden allowed me to develop more fully as an educated youth. I believe that only once I had left my local garden, was I able to find beauty in those shared with me by my neighbors abroad.