Happy Anniversary Two Year Anniversary, Buenos Aires

Posted on January 16, 2012 by Vivi in VIVI'S VIEW

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.

31 Comments

  1. I absolutely love this post!

    For the last year I’ve been considering moving to Buenos Aires; then I started reading your blog. I’m finishing grad school at PA, I’m 23, and I can’t wait to book my flight and start my own journey down there. Even though I don’t know you, I am very happy that you did it. You got the good and the bad of this experience, which is what I call “living.” This post is truly inspiring.

    Thanks for posting!

    PS. I can’t tell you how much of those “conversation tones” I’ve had to hear because of my plans to move there.

  2. Nicely written. Congratulations … on the writing as well as the living.

  3. This was such a beautiful post. Congratulations on making it when so many people get overwhelmed and leave, or turn to bitterness. I am flying to BA today to start the next leg of my own journey there, and I hope to always remember that when you live a full life, there is a bright side that balances the dark side. Happy anniversary!

  4. Love the post!! Made me smile.. :)

  5. Happy Anniversary! I’d like to say it gets easier/better (going on 4 years in crazytown), but I almost feel like that dichotomy of love/hate (or good/bad, or easy/hard, what have you…) continues to grow. Not that it’s a bad thing, but that it will continue to evolve and sometimes you start to value things from home that had never before crossed your mind. At least in my case anyway. Thank god for OSDE-sponsored therapy! Ok, I think it’s time for a whoopie pie …

    • I definitely had that experience of valuing home, and thing I’d always taken for granted with a much deeper appreciation! And then returning to BA makes me appreciate it here at well! Whoopie pies are just the icing on the cake. But seriously – can we go there??

  6. That was your most beautiful post yet. How lucky you are to have had those experiences and have that to remember them by. It was truly moving.
    Love you always,
    Tia

  7. 2 years wow! I hope to move there with my hubby in the future and experience it as a local instead of a tourist like I have been for the last 7 years. Felicidades!!!

  8. Love, love, love this post! You are an amazing writer, hostess, and friend and I’m so lucky to have met you!!! Kisses to you!!! Jayna

  9. Really enjoyed this post. You have embraced your experience and kept the presence of mind to reflect and appreciate the entire spectrum of moments that have come your way. This is how to do it well and make it matter. Nice job! :)

  10. This city is a constant reminder to never stop learning and growing and kicking ass. So is this post, well done. Love you Vives, glad to be on this journey with you!!

    Also, I love the “What are you *doooing* down there?” queston. CLASSIC. Heard it too many times to count. I wish I had a good snappy answer that was better than, “Same thing you’re dooooooing up there but more fucking fun, you asshole!”

  11. beautiful. i’m glad you shared it in baexpats :)

  12. Great post, Vina! Keep on writing!

  13. Nice post!

    I already stepped in dog shit twice :)

  14. Hi, my name is Andrea and I´m contacting you because I see that you are living in Buenos Aires at the moment.

    I´m glad you like my city and you just reviewed one of my fav beers pubs ever, Antares.
    Last time I went, I had a lovely pint of a beer that tasted very yummy, I can´t remember the name..barley wine, maybe??

    In any case, I wanted to invite you to an event.
    We just started our 2nd season of the one and only Stand Up Comedy show 100% in english that is taking place in Buenos Aires.
    Cheers!

    This is the information about what we do:
    Join us EVERY TUESDAY at the one and only English-language stand-up comedy show in Buenos Aires!
    Next Tuesday 24 JAN 2012
    LIVE and IN PERSON:
    Crowd favorite:
    FRANCESCA FIORENTINI
    Brit-Of-The-Year
    MORGAN ROBERTS (UK)
    Local heartthrob:
    EZEQUIEL CAMPA
    A long, delightful set from:
    ANA CAROLINA
    ————-
    #ImportantData
    Food And Drinks available pre-show, during show, and post-show.
    COVER CHARGE: JUST 25 ARGENPESOS
    Every TUE, Absinth Bar, Bartolomé Mitre 1695
    Be sure to make a reservation by emailing gringo@comicosdepie.com.ar

  15. I loved this post!! I can relate on so many levels. Buenos Aires has been a rollercoaster for me, so many ups and downs but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Happy Anniversary chica!!! (it was nice to meet you last night at the beer tasting…)

  16. it´s so “emocionante” (how do you say it in english???) the way you describe our country…our very complicated country actually! saludos!!

  17. Beautiful post. I’ve been traveling full time since Nov 2010 and arrived in Argentina about 4 weeks ago. There is nothing like living in a foreign country that makes you learn so much about who you are and what you’re capable of. I’ll be here until May/June. Maybe our paths will cross somewhere in this fantastic city. Be well!

  18. Just found your blog and am enjoying the read, I arrived 2 days prior to you and agree with you that staying here is one of the hardest thing I have ever done. I also teach English part time and hate the “Why are you here?” questions!

  19. Vina , rather than trying to write in English, I will ..write in Spanish to add some nightmare to your …basic Argie speaking knowledge…… excelente escritora, muy buena persona, una clara y cómica profesora, pero por sobre todo una encantadora mujer.
    Son solo algunos de los adjetivos que definen a Vina.
    Se de tus penas y glorias. De los buenos y malos momentos de tu vida… pero por sobre todo, admiro tu persona que lejos de todo lo tuyo, supo entender y comprender a la Argentina y a los chamuyeros que en ella habitan. Por otros dos años ..más ??!!.. Un Beso.

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