The earth quake that hit our neighboring country to the west did not have any direct impact on us, but it certainly stopped us in our tracks and had us considering how we would be impacted if a similar incident were to happen in Argentina.  The “all for one” mentality here would escalate to a new level and we would no doubt need to find a way to exit quickly.  The fact that we are very far from home is very evident to us every minute of the day and this recent incident was just another stark reminder.   Lyndsey and I have been having a hard week; we are missing our life, family and friends in the Estados Unidos (USA).  We are a case book study of the X-Pat stages of culture shock.  We have our good days and bad days and never forget how vulnerable we are.

I am truly learning to live the expression “day by day”.  I have had to abandon my “control every situation” personality and I am currently in withdrawal.  You can try to plan things here, but inevitably something will happen completely abstract to change those plans i.e., flooded streets, loss of electricity, the store or restaurant just decides not to open that day.   So eventually you give up the fight and go with the flow.  Quite frankly it kind of feels good to not have to manage every situation to death; however the true test will be if I can sustain this philosophy in the states.  So as we continue to positively work at transitioning so many aspects of our lives we have open minds and hearts and are excited to understand what each of us will gain from this experience.

So perhaps it is because we are putting forth so much effort and we are working so hard at our transition, that I took such offense to term “X-Pat Princess”.   I could hardly believe my ears when I heard that slander for the first time at church on Sunday, from our pastor no less.  I was so stunned when those words came out of her mouth that I had to stop myself from standing up, snapping my fingers in the air, and saying, “Oh no you didn’t”! I looked around at my fellow X-Pat wife’s for a similar reaction and I found them shrugging their shoulders and nodding while casually agreeing.

Considering I was in church and no one else seemed too upset, I determined that perhaps I should just let this one go, but I simply could not.  When I saw my girlfriends for lunch later that week, I immediately informed them we should never let anyone refer to us that way again.  “X-Pat Princess” implies we are spoiled and we are anything but.  Believe me if I was so spoiled I would have said, I am not going to Argentina and that is FINAL !  But we are here supporting our husbands 100%.  Many people said to me before we left, “I could never do what you are doing, I could never move to another country”.  So I am here amongst the women who can and we never have it easy.  It is tremendous work as we try to work through this foreign system and maintain normalcy for our children, while not dwelling on everything and everyone we miss from home.  We are not princesses, but if we take a few perks along the way it is simply payment for our sacrifices.

Let’s be very clear, we are here for a reason and we are indeed enjoying it and making the most of this opportunity we have been granted. Given the choice most of us (american)moms would still rather be in the US scrubbing our own floors.  However, during our time here, we have been relieved of our cleaning duties as well as laundry and cooking.

I am pretty sure our Margarita is happy with her situation, as I am not very good at telling her what to do. Unfortunately, I am told these women are use to being treated horribly and working tremendously long hours and all for barbarically low wages. I do not tell Margarita what to do, I like what she is doing, I do not make her pick up after us, I need my kids to do that for themselves.  Margarita and I take trips to the store where we play charades and I grunt out a few words that I know and then she comes home and makes food that reminds me of my grandmothers cooking.  I determined over the years that cooking is truly a gift and she has it as did my grandparents.  I am sending an email to the food network to let them know I have their next “Chopped star”, she uses ingredients I have never seen in my life to make constantly good dishes.  The girls always ask when I pick them up, what did Margarita cook for dinner?  They can’t wait! I would not say it is gourmet, it is just really, really good food.  I am motivated to learn Spanish because I want to talk to her.  I want to know about her life.  Ball does an extensive testing and an environmental study at her home, so we know that all is good and legal (90% are not). She just seems so kind I want to get to know her.  I go to Spanish translator.com and write her notes to tell her how much I like her cooking.  My tutor laughs at me and tells me how terribly it was translated, but Margarita gets the point.  I drive her when I can to the bus stop.  My more knowledgeable X-Pat friends do not approve of any of this.  They tell me the maids are not use to such kindness and they will take advantage of me.  Maybe, but I appreciate her so much and the work she is doing for my family the least I can do is take her to the bus stop.  They just shake their head at me.  Doug reminds me we are paying her and we are following the Evita labor laws to the letter and she receives paid vacation along with contributions to her benefits and pension.  I still cannot believe sometimes what they actually get paid for all the work they do.  Margarita is thrilled to have a steady job and after interviewing lots of candidates, I believe she is the right fit for our family, and although I am terrible at giving any orders, she does so much work and we are in reality benefiting each other.

I do find myself thanking god about five times a day that I am an American.  The Argentines do not wish they were Americans this is their home, but their government so restricts any foreign influence they do not know what they are missing.  I am so thankful for our great democracy, although our current leaders are trying to satisfy their own agenda despite the wishes of the people, democracy will reign and we are indeed a blessed nation.

I am learning so much about my always interesting Argentine host and I try to be very gracious and remember always I am a guest.  I am in their country and I must make an effort to learn their language.  I always apologize and tell them I am trying and never act mad or frustrated when I cannot get anything accomplished.

There is internal conflict in the country with the beef industry.  Beef is the number one Argentine export and the government is significantly tampering with the process.   As a result, beef prices have jumped some say 100%.  Times are tough here for many people and crime is a factor.  Without committing heresy while in country, I will try to explain in my next addition why the situation is so damaging to Argentina because of the government controls. The Argentine government perceives their intervention is helping their citizens, but the result has been the exact opposite.   Do you think Obama is reading my blog?

Please say a prayer for us everytime we cross your mind.

Until next time,

>Lyndsey’s Youth Group took a train to downtown BA for an evening of Paint-ball.  unlike other parents, we were not quite ready to put Lyndsey on a train by herself so Doug joined the fun and they had a blast.  Doug snapped a few pictures with his cell phone and this is Lyndsey in her militia gear and one of her new friends/neighbor.

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