A few months ago when I envisioned my X-Pat experience, I knew I wanted our family to; slow down the pace, spend more time together, learn Spanish, and make the absolute most of our experience during the small amount of time that we are here.  Today is the one month anniversary of our arrival and we are starting to feel a little more at home each day and working a little closer to our goal.  One perk we enjoy very much is having Doug home with us in the mornings for breakfast before he takes the girls to school.  In our almost 17 years of marriage we have never seen him in the morning as he was always long gone at work, so this is a very nice benefit.  However our pace has not slowed down as much as I would have like, and I have resigned to the fact that our life no matter where we are is going to be crazy busy and that is just who we are.

My Spanish teacher and I spend more time discussing world politics and religion than we do studying Spanish, but I told her today, I am starting to feel a little more settled and I promise to study more.  She always say’s “oh Kelly, you are doing fine”.  Although she has told me the guards get very excited when they know she is coming to my house.  They know she is a tutor and they ask if she can please hurry and teach Senora Parker Spanish.  The guards need to call me whenever there is someone wanting to enter.  When they call I say, “Si, Gracious”.  I usually wait to hear the name of the person I am expecting to arrive, however if they told me an axe murder was on the way I would still say, “Si, Gracious”.   I am so obsessed with the correct pronunciation that I have to practically say the entire Spanish alphabet in my head so I can recall the proper sounds of each consonant and vowel before I will even attempt to pronounce one word.  And I think I may never venture out of the present tense.   Lauryn will be the one who is going to really learn Spanish.  Her pronunciation is right on, and already she is correcting me.  She practices a lot at school and I am just not sure how much practice Lyndsey is getting as in the land of 6th grade you do your best to stay under the radar.  You would not want to look silly by improperly pronouncing the days of the week, someone might laugh at you.  Lyndsey will probably be like me, we will understand it, but we will not speak it beautifully.  Keep in mind this language is completely different from what is spoken in Spain and Mexico.  Of course it is still Spanish but the pronunciation is practically Italian.  Elizabeth tells me I need to practice speaking all day long, in the car in the shower, this is the only way it will become natural.  I pray for more motivation.  You would think being in a foreign country and not be able to communicate would be plenty of motivation; however I have many enablers that communicate on my behalf so I do not have an intense desperation like some of the other X-Pats.

There are so many opportunities at the American School; we have piled it on again.  As promised, we made our way downtown over the weekend to visit the rink where the girls will eventually take a few lessons.  The ride is long and the ice is tiny, but after our fun day in the city we decided having to come to the rink on Saturday will provide us with the motivation we might not otherwise have to explore downtown Buenos Aires.  The last time the girls and I were downtown it was August and our minds were clouded with all the details of moving and finding a house in this new world.  We had a city tour but I was so overwhelmed it was hard to enjoy the tour and listen to the guide.  Close to 20 million people call Buenos Aires home and it is truly massive. I don’t think this small town girl will ever wrap her brain around this massive city.

Each and every street you happen on is highly populated and full of shops and architecture that never repeats itself.  It is a mixture of old European meets modern day art.  We are enjoying an overload of new experiences, but you can bet every chance we get to grab our little slice of Americana, we take it.  We had heard there was a Hard Rock Café downtown and thanks to our navigation system we were able to find this needle in the haystack. We are immersed in the Argentine culture and we enjoy their foods and customs all day long, but oh the joy we find in ordering a chicken fingers appetizer with both honey mustard and BBQ sauce.  It is these little things that absolutely make our day.  I tried to see if I could buy some honey mustard, however given my limitations on communicating I was not successful.  I ordered nachos with salsa, also very hard to find and there was not one morsel left on the plate.  We walked around the outside market in front of the Hard Rock Plaza and I was happy to see lots of American tourist speaking perfect American English, not British English like the Argentines speak.  To hear people speaking American English outside of the X-Pat community makes me smile.  I wanted to tell them all “watch your purse”.  I leave mine at home when I travel to the city.

It is interesting to live amongst a socialist society.  I love to hear Doug talk about how the government regulates price controls on products so that no one shop can provide a better deal than the next, this way everyone is “equal”.  I have keys to our home that look like what was surely used by John Adams when he was given the keys to the white house.  The “key” industry has been around for a while and it employs lots of people so they keep it going as to not put anyone out of work.  Does this sound familiar?  I will try not to get to political but let’s just say President Obama needs to spend some time in Argentina.  Bailing out dying companies will not allow more evolutionary ones to evolve and it will not allow us to advance.

We are pretty sure we have stepped back in time to what we estimate is the early 1970’s but with internet for those Argentines who can afford it.  Most Argentines would never have enough money to buy a computer.  The electronics are not as advanced as what we are use to and are ridiculously expensive even for Americans utilizing the exchange rate.  I would never buy anything of value here, except for these awesome little furniture pieces I find from the old Estancia’s – more on that later.   The American products we are use to are just not the same quality here, it would appear because of the government fixed pricing and tax implications on imports, they need to send inferior quality products in order for them to make any money. The Argentine government would rather their population use what is available from their own country, they do not want foreign companies providing products that compete with what they already provide.  You all heard the horror stories of our family trying to get our visas.  They strongly discourage any foreign influence, the socialist mentality disagrees that foreign business would create new jobs; their view is very simply that it would take them away.  Ball of course is in the disposable products category and is doing very well as they manufacture in country a product in high demand and they do not import.  We had about two weeks of rain and the mosquitoes are in full force.  When we arrived there were no bugs and now we cannot even walk outside.  All the “Off” cans in Argentina have Ball written on the bottom.  “That’s my can man”, I tell everyone.  So business is booming.  Doug’s plant also manufactures Aerosol cans for deodorant, cleaning supplies etc.  Aerosol cans are quite popular here.  Ironically you would think our children have never heard of “Off” as they are covered in bites.

So I celebrated my one month anniversary by meeting Doug and Mercedes at the Baruge Lazulay near the colectora by the Panamericana.  This was a big deal as a month ago climbing Mt. Everest seemed more manageable than driving to this location.  Thanks to lots of coaching and map assistance from my Elizabeth and Mercedes, I made it on my own. I was complaining to our home owner, through my translators of course, about the loose tiles in the sunroom/breakfast area.  By some miracle, or my constant complaining, they told me I could pick out the color of the tile and they would install it.  I will keep you posted on this one.  That is very uncharacteristic of an Argentine owner to repair an item like this while the renter’s contract is already signed.  So Doug, Mercedes and I picked out a few tile options from The Baruge Lazulay.  I will post before and after pictures if it ever actually gets to that point. When we return to BA in the fall from the states, I will have one suitcase dedicated to gifts for Mercedes, I adore her. Doug appreciates her as well and tells me this is part of her job, but she does it in a way that puts me at ease.  She’s like my little guardian angel, thank you god.

Until next time,

Mucho amor, Huesto Luego

This is the guard station entrance into our neighborhood.  The Trende La Costa passes the front of the entrances to many of the gated communities and the San Isidro station is about 3 blocks down from our neighborhood and is a popular tourist spot.