27 December 2012

This is not a bitch sesh, it's a lesson.

When we visited BA last year, we decided we'd move here. Everyday of our trip was magical...so much to see and do. It was charming when the restaurant servers responded to our botched Spanish in English. We didn't have to do laundry. We ate every meal out and tried something new every day. We took cabs when it was too far to walk, which was never because we were so excited to walk. We walked around at night with money and a camera, speaking English all the way back to our room without reserve. We were from Philly, so grit (just straight up dirt) wasn't new, graffiti wasn't new, crazy drivers weren't anything new. We left ready to come back.

We came back a month ago with long term plans. We moved. We got rid of everything, gave up our apartment in Philly, saved up for a year and then moved to BA. We'd live here and work here and meet people for at least a year, at which point we'd probably be so in love we'd stay. Or, if by some chance it didn't work out, we'd go home.

It's been a month and I'm reminded of the very obvious idea that living in a place is not the same as visiting a place. Day to day life is not the same as vacation mode. Watching our budget means taking the bus, having the laundry done less often than we'd like, grocery shopping in a store where we can't tell the difference between milk in a bag and drinkable yogurt. Living in an apartment for a fair price means dealing with leaky faucets and no window screens in the middle of mosquito season. The graffiti (different from the street art) on every single wall ever, the dog shit that doesn't get scooped on the sidewalks, these things are no longer 'quirky' but frustrating. As a privileged person, it's ridiculous that I could even complain. But I think you get my point.

But this city is awesome. It reminds me so much of New York in it's density and activity and the pride the people have in their hometown. I go to New York when I want to have a whirlwind time. I go to NY to hang in Central Park. Everything is big and fast and fun and if something sucks it doesn't matter because everything else is pretty rad. And I can leave. I can go back to Philly where there's just as much fun but it's slower, quieter, more manageable. Comparisons aren't always fair, but this is the best I can do.

And I love South America. I love the Latin American things about this city. I love the late mornings and nights, I love the relaxed attitudes. No one cares what you do for a job, no one cares what you're wearing, and no one cares what you do in your free time. As long as you're around for a coffee in the afternoon, you've got friends. And there's an enormous park here in BA, with a lake and bridges and a rose garden. People rollerblade and run around in the grass with their kids, drinking mate, or making out. You can't beat it.

But the inflation is real. Don't be fooled or think it's less of an issue than it seems. It's a real, daily problem that even affects those of us making dollars. A year ago, everything in this city was approximately 15% less expensive than in Philly. This year, everything is at least that much pricier. Again, I'm talking NY prices. You will not find a 'deal' here on anything but public transportation, in my experience.

So Sandro and I have decided to travel. It's too expensive to live the life we want in this city long term. That may not always be the case (2001 financial crisis re-dux?), but for now it's only getting more expensive by the day. We came here to practice Spanish, meet people, and work less, and that last part can't happen here for much longer. We're having fun, and there's so much more to see, so we're staying in the city until March, then redirecting our mission!

I had no idea this was coming, but I got here and suddenly craved the atmosphere I was born in. Salty California air, green mountains and blue seas, warmth year round. I didn't expect that feeling to come until I got old and cold, but here it is while I'm still young and excited. I want to sit on a porch and look out at the ocean, shaded by huge palm leaves. I want to walk around barefoot. I want a stray dog to come by in the afternoons. I want to live in Nicaragua?

I'm worried this means I'm fickle. But I don't believe it. If it were someone else I'd wonder what they were running from. But I really think I'm just so grateful to have a buddy and freelance work and the wherewithal to finally travel the world and to not be burdened with stuff and to pursue this dream that I was wrong to think I'd want to settle in one place. I'm so eager to soak in every single thing and place and person and food I come across that I have to take it while I can.

Now we've got plans for a trip to Ushuaia in March, the world's southern most city, the closest thing to the Antarctic Circle! Then we'll hop our way back up north, stopping for a month or more at a time in Chile, Peru, Colombia, Nicaragua. We've got permits to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu in May, so THAT'S HAPPENING! If we end up somewhere that we love and that really works, we'll stay longer. If we hear of somewhere great or meet some travelers, we'll detour. We'll keep working and hopefully stop bleeding money in some of these less expensive areas. We'll see more and be open. We'll slow down and get tropical. We'll figure it out as we go instead of making such long term plans ahead of time.

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