Two Years in Buenos Aires

Two years went by in an instant.  An airplane landed in Buenos Aires.  I closed my eyes and inhaled.  I opened my eyes and exhaled, and it is two years later.

Moving (and staying) in Buenos Aires was the hardest thing that I’ve ever done in my life, as trite and cliche as that sounds.  I’m convinced that outsiders peering into my life get a glimpse of glamor and seem to have the impression that I’m enjoying a carefree unending ‘study abroad’ party existence in a cheap country.  I hear it in the skeptical tones of conversational questions: ‘What are you doing down there?’

I don’t know how to really explain my BA existence, although this blog has been an attempt at that.  I don’t hesitate to correct the outsiders conception of expatriated life as a moveable feast.  It hasn’t been so rose colored.

I have been sick, as in ‘need to go to the hospital sick’ for unending and inexplicable afflictions that took a year of acclimating to relieve.  I have been poor, as in ‘have to call home begging for a money order and beg my landlord to take pity on me and accept late rent’ poor.  I’ve been too cold and too hot and devoured by vicious mosquitoes.  I’ve been desperately lonely, longing for familiar faces in a wild and foreign city.  I’ve been scared, I’ve been malnourished, I’ve been depressed.  I’ve had the lowest self esteem and poor body image, not helped by Argentines calling me ‘Gordita’.  I’ve been sexually harassed, I’ve been groped on the subway I’ve been robbed in the street, I’ve been cheated on.  I’ve been underpaid as an English teacher.  I’ve been lost, and confused, and made countless embarrassing mistakes in Spanish and fallen down in public more times than I care to admit.  That is enough trauma to land a girl in intense psychotherapy.  At least I can say that despite the odds, I’ve never stepped in dog poop.

I’ve suffered; and I wouldn’t go back and change a minute of it.  These past two years have been worth every little pain and discomfort.  I’ll tell you why.

I’ve danced tango with charming tangueros to beautiful songs by Gardel in crowded milongas.  I’ve galloped on horseback across the flat campo in San Antonio del Areco.  I’ve shared kobe beef with antarctic scuba divers, laughing and lingering over Malbec until the restaurant closed.  I’ve practiced the art of the chamuyo, I’ve played ping-pong with pick up artists, suffered painful crushes on crush-worthy men, and dated the most handsome of Argentines.  I’ve developed a strong affection for Woody Allen films.

I taught English to fascinating professionals – engineers, economists, media directors.  I’ve bonded with fellow expats and relished the support from the international community.  I’ve soaked in hot springs in Mendoza and I’ve pet a baby tiger and ridden an elephant.  I’ve skied with my parents in the heart of the Andes, where we watched fuchsia sunsets over a snowy mountain lake.  I crossed the border from Argentina to Chile in a river raft.  I’ve been inspired to write poems and hotel reviews, blog posts, recipes and short stories.  I’ve witnessed breathtaking electric storms.

I’ve learned how to bake a cake from scratch.  I’ve bribed a police officer and charmed the border patrol.  I climbed Machu Picchu with my grandparents, and walked the entire length of the Copacabana beach with my brother and sister.  I’ve had my share of medialunas and cafe cortados in charming street facing cafes, and indulged in enough ice cream to secure my place as a veritable connoisseur.  I found the perfect leather jacket and I’ve eaten a whole cow’s worth of delicious steak.  I learned the proper way to serve mate, prepare a fernet and pour wine.

I’ve made fantastic friends from all over the world.  I’ve been visited by my entire family and my two best friends, and kindred spirits from college.  I picked up some lunfardo and basic salsa steps.  I learned more about plumbing than I ever wanted and 9 times out of 10 I can fix a toilet.  I’ve laughed uncontrollably at my students English mistakes and felt the karma for my own mistakes in Spanish.  I’ve pushed myself far outside my comfort zone and bought an Argentine swimsuit which reveals far more of my derrière than I was ever willing to show previously.  I learned to navigate a large city, and the more I discovered, the more I grew to love it.

Two years ago, I landed in Buenos Aires – a scared twenty three year old in a pink shirt.  Two years later, a twenty-five year old in a pink dress, I celebrated my gutsy decision and gave thanks for my incredible friends, my supportive family, and two wonderful years.

8 Responses to Two Years in Buenos Aires

  1. El Queso says:

    Very nice. I think you’ve summed up existence here in a few well-chosen words. Not easy to do with so complex a subject. You’ve definitely earned the right to be happy with your truly gutsy move 🙂

  2. Tessa says:

    I loved this post!! I just moved to Buenos Aires for work a month ago and am facing all the same difficulties. I, too, despite all the challenges, can say that hasta ahora, I have managed to avoid the dog poop – incredible!! Lovely to know its worth it in the end:) Thanks!!

  3. spanishinba says:

    Hello,
    I love your blog!
    is there any chance that we do links exchange?
    Im Spanish Teacher
    http://www.giselagiunti.com

    thanks

    gisela

  4. wannabenz says:

    I’ve found this blog in a random way and as I was reading comments I’ve realised that you and I are a bit similar.
    I’m running my own blog about my experience down in NZ, and how it began. I am Argentinean so I identify a lot with the things you encounter although I have the advantage to live in a safer country than mind but it’s a cultural shock and an experience so different that is hard to explain. That’s why I wrote the blog.

    Anyway, I will put a link to your website on my FB.
    A pleasure to follow your adventures in Buenos Aires…the city that I left before coming to Nz.

    • I checked out your blog! It is nice to have an Argentine reader who identifies with the culture shock that comes with moving abroad! Hope NZ is awesome – I’ve always wanted to go there. 🙂

  5. Sara says:

    Holy shit. I just discovered your blog a moment ago while combing google for just about anything Buenos Aires-related. I’m about to turn twenty-three and I’m headed to Buenos Aires with a one-way ticket in September. Reading this post gave me chills, both in recognizing that the things I’m afraid of will be true, and realizing that the wonderful things I’ve dared to imagine will be true, too. Looking forward to exploring your writing here further. 🙂

  6. Hello

    I have just started reading your blog and love the way you write and your photos. I’m also a bit of a fan of Argentina having spent a few weeks travelling around reporting on wildlife for a cool show called, well, WildLife. I can’t find I private way to contact you so this will have to do.

    I write a blog called art house home life at http://www.arthousehomelife.com/, and am doing a series called 100 Ordinary Homes and Gardens, and I’m wondering if you would be interested in giving us a little glimpse into your BA home?

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