Settling in to our new home in Buenos Aires
This week we have been â€śsettling inâ€? and it has not been terribly fun.
The value of family and connections: This is the second time we have been to Buenos Aires in the last year and so had our â€śpersonal taxiâ€? pick us up at the airport. Having been here before and having family in town has made our settling in here so much simpler. My aunt found the apartment (which is a gem) in a nice part of town and she was the one who visited the schools for us ahead of time. She made sure our internet was connected, our cleaning service was set and pointed us towards the grocery stores.
Shopping: What has been most frustrating for us has been finding and buying more specialized items. We have literally walked for hours in the last 3 days, clocking between 11,303 to 18,870 steps on my childrenâ€™s pedometers, looking for a pillow for me, school uniforms and shoes for our children and some simple house hold items. Most of the stores here are small one item stores except for a few huge department stores that we have yet to locate. You find stores you need by asking passerbyâ€™s and kiosk owners where to buy â€śXâ€? â€“ canâ€™t just search the internet. In the US, I lament the loss of the â€śmom and popâ€? stores but right now I could certainly use a Target!!
Transportation: Living without a car has been convenient and safe since we donâ€™t need to park and donâ€™t have to navigate one of the most dangerous cities in the world to drive in (second to Rome we were told by a taxi driver), but after only 3 days of walking many hours a day, I do miss my car! Cars are also good for carrying your packages â€¦ didnâ€™t think about how my arms would feel after a day of shopping without an â€śauto.â€? Cars are also great for longer distances. I have spent several hours studying the map, the metro stations, the bus lines and the trains to determine how I am going to get around this city of 3 million jam-packed within an area of 80 square miles. My head hurts trying to keep it all straight!
Home Away from Home: The kids have been putting up with our days very well â€“ they have had to walk along with us to buy their uniforms, books and shoes and then return home to a charming adult apartment that has very little to entertain them (we couldnâ€™t pack all their toys). Even TV gets old in a few hours, especially in Spanish. â€śIâ€™m bored!!â€? is what we hear a lot. The food isnâ€™t the same and even when you order familiar foods, they donâ€™t taste like you expect them to. Just salting our meals to taste is difficult since the salt is much finer and spreads differently. The one for sure item that never fails us is ice creamâ€”better yet, gelato! My memories of arriving in Madrid at the age of 12 are related to food. The first breakfast I had, straight off the plane, was a fried egg, smothered in olive oil â€“ â€śugh!â€? was my reaction that day. I was much happier with the Kentucky Fried Chicken we found for lunch!
Community: A highlight for the kids was visiting their school. They were very nervous going there and are now much more relaxed. We were soooo warmly received. We were ushered into a room and within minutes one of the cafeteria employees had brought us croissants (â€śmedia lunasâ€? â€“ our kids favorites), coca cola and coffee. The children they met were excited to meet them, show them around and then invite them into their classrooms. In addition to their Argentine classmates, they will have class mates from Nigeria, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico to just name a few. The school reminded me so much of the schools I attended in both Zurich and Madrid, international schools where I had friends from South Africa, Andorra, England and even Florida! Our children have commented several times about differences between the United States and Argentina. Like how â€śstupidâ€? (my children are not terribly articulate) some of the customs here are, such as kissing hello. What better way to learn about cultures of the world than attending an international school?
Next week: school starts and so does my work. Stay tuned!