“What do you say to taking chances – what do you say to jumping off the edge, never knowing if there’s solid ground below or hand to hold or hell to pay, what do you say”

Maybe I have been listening to much to the girls Ipod and the cast of Glee singing this Celine Dion song, but it got me thinking.   I never really thought of ourselves as risk takers but the more we are here the more I realize that is the case as being in Argentina provides more risk than I would like to admit.  I remind myself that risk taking is good.  “No pain no gain” has also meant something to Doug and I and that is one of the reasons I am sure that we find ourselves in Argentina.

The pain I am experiencing is missing my life in Colorado, USA.   I have recognized with all our moves and this one even more so that how you perceive your experience abroad has everything to do with your circumstances when you left.   My ex-pat friend Katie has been here for a year and they kept their home in California as they could not sell it considering the devalued housing market.  I was shocked when she told me they were praying for an extension of their assignment.  I think my jaw dropping to the floor prompted her to tell me why.  Katie speaks enough Castellano (Argentine Spanish) to get by, which is currently a ton more than me and she is truly making the most of her experience, and she does not want it to end.  Their U.S. house has lost much of its value in the last few years and with California being in its bankrupt state the schools are in turmoil.  Here her children get to attend an amazing private school while learning Spanish and gaining an incredible world perspective.  She would rather wait out the storm here in a foreign country with maids and private schools then to have to deal with their situation at home.  She feels god placed her family here and she is thriving with her sense of purpose and thrill for adventure.

When I left I was not looking for a new adventure, or a better life.  I was still enjoying my new life and adventure in Colorado. So I appreciate Katie’s reminder that god placed us here for a reason and I try hard not to miss my Colorado house, the schools, the mountains, our friends, family, and amazing country.   I keep in perspective “no pain, no gain”.  We will gain from this experience and although there are days that are difficult, I know the girls will benefit from their exposure to a new language and their new world perspective.  Doug has gained significant international business experience and I am still not sure just yet what I am gaining, but I will let you know.

This week I must confess I am feeling a little gain, as we were able to enjoy two awesome experiences.  We were so happy to have our friends from Colorado visit for the week and we had fun touring the city and staying at an old Estancia in the country side http://www.estanciavillamaria.com/eng.html .  This was my first trip out of the city and I was so thankful to leave the noise and pollution behind.  The Estancia was amazing with lots to do on the property and excellent food.  Mostly however, I obsessed over the beautiful décor and dream of a day I might build my own mini estancia.  For now I will settle on incorporating some of the Argentine design elements when we finish our basement in Colorado. Lyndsey and I have lots of ideas and Doug and Lauryn will be building a parilla (Argentine grill) in the back yard.  After saying goodbye to our visiting friends, we made our way to Uruguay to the Four Seasons.  All I can say is I have never had a vacation like the one we are having this week.  There is no way to express the relief I feel being able to speak English exclusively.  The service here is unlike anything I have ever experienced and all employees, every single one speaks at a minimum Spanish and English.  This is unheard of in Buenos Aires. When we ordered dinner the other night for the first time not only were there menu items from our home country, we could ask our servers questions about the entrees and make special request and they understood us!  After we ordered we had a little moment of silence at the table and big smiles on our faces, we all recognized the amazing event that just took place.   Although we will be refreshed from this amazing visit to Uruguay, I think it will be even more difficult to go back.  I will once again need to work harder to communicate and life will be a little trickier again, I will feel the pain.

As we work to further integrate into our new life the Argentine culture continues to amuse and interest me.  I wish I could have taken our extensive culture class this summer rather than last.  Last summer I had just found out our fate and my head was in another place, quite frankly I did not want to be there.  Had I taken the class this summer, I would be asking a million questions and wanting to know as much as I can about the history of Argentina?   As I live amongst my foreign friends, I realize the Argentines and their history are fascinating.  It’s a little jarring to know that so many turbulent events occurred just a few short years ago.  I am still working on that book “Barrack Obama meet Evita Peron”, as they are one in the same.  If I have not mentioned it before, her intentions were good but the long term effects of her socialist policies resulted in bankrupt nation.  Once the 5th wealthiest nation in the world, Argentina was in economic turmoil less than 10 years ago; forced to freeze bank accounts while the currency plunged.

These events effect who they are and why they act the way they do.  For example many Argentines do not even have a bank account; they pay their bills in person with cash and wait in long lines to do so.  The truly wealthy Argentines, keep every peso with them.

If you go to an ATM, you have about a 50% chance of it having cash, inflation is on the rise and currency is in short supply.  The ATM is our main source of obtaining Peso’s so we deal with this often.

Probably most facilitating is observing the internal battle with the primary Argentine resource, beef.  The government is restricting the exportation through increased taxes as the government feels its best beef should be accessible only to the people of Argentina and at a low cost.  However, the government influence has had the exact opposite effect.   With the high export tax and enforced cost controls, ranchers are forced to close up shop or convert their land to growing soybeans.  In addition a significant drought that took place last year killed off over 1.5 million cows. So the precious Argentine beef, there most valued resource is diminishing and the cost of beef has risen by some say 100% in the last few months.  In this land of massive meat eaters, there is much discontent with government intervention, but unlike our democracy, the people do not have much ability to effect any change.

So I will sign off for now and wish you a very happy Easter!  Easter in the fall is just not Easter to me, but thank goodness I shipped the plastic Easter eggs and our Colorado friends brought us some American Easter candy.  We will be spending the day with new friends and will maybe gain a few new traditions along the way.  We appreciate your continued prayers.

Here are a few pictures of our stay at the Four Seasons- Uruguay.

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