A full one month into our journey, we feel good about what we’ve accomplished. The initial period of the trip is really about laying a foundation upon which the rest of the adventure can be built. While we certainly have had a number of fun experiences, we believe the best is yet to come.
Kate continues to amaze us with her attitude. Today was “family day” for her school where the families go out to the sports fields and watch the kids from third grade and up play (sorry Jake).
Kate playing “hockey” as they call it here
Watching Kate take directions in Spanish, at least half of which she cannot understand, has given us a new appreciation for how difficult this transition is. Kate seems to be taking it all in stride, managing to understand enough to get by without being concerned about what she can’t understand. Amazing.
Jake is also making progress. Thursday was really a turning point for him where he had a good day at school and played with a bunch of different kids. He is still tentative and a bit unwilling to reach out to people he doesn’t know, but he has made significant strides and we think he’s turned the corner. In a way, we think the difficulties he is having will make this trip a more valuable experience for him.
Nerd parents in Argentina also fly drones
Michele and Ted have also had an interesting week. On Monday, Ted went and visited Noah Mamet, the U.S. Ambassador at his home in the Bosh Palace. It was fascinating to hear about the many tasks that the ambassador has on his plate. It’s quite a job.
Our Ambassadors home in Buneos Aires. Nice Digs!
On Tuesday Ted went to visit some folks at Globant an Argentine technology company that recently had its IPO on the NYSE. On Thursday we had our first tennis lesson at Club De Amigos. Unfortunately a new language does not magically transform our tennis game, but we had fun and are looking forward to playing more regularly. After tennis, we had a nice lunch at trendy Casa Cavia which was good fun. Ted was very jealous of Michele’s wine, but he had to go to work (which began after lunch since California is now 4 hours behind). On Friday, Michele started a new series of Spanish lessons, while Ted hobnobbed over lunch with the local VCs from Kaszek ventures. Ted has been using every taxi cab ride as an impromptu Spanish lesson much to the delight/alarm of the local drivers, but he intends to join Michele for more formal instruction.
One interesting learning is the impact of the various import restrictions and duties on the Argentine people. It is very difficult to get certain goods here. The electronics are at least 5 years behind the US and the prices are extraordinarily high. It’s one thing to understand the theory behind trade barriers, but to see it how they function in the real world is eye opening.
One cultural difference we’ve observed is how closely connected people are with one another here. At home in the States, it seems that friendships are secondary obligations that people fill in after work and family matters are addressed. Here it seems that friendships are on equal footing with work and family and that social circles are more tightly and frequently connected. For example, the parents of kids in Kate’s class have a chat group in WhatsApp that routinely gets over 100 messages a day. These folks are consistently together, in person or remotely. My new friend Morgan Friedman contends that there is a tradeoff between effectiveness and maintaining this connectedness and he wants to bridge both worlds. It’s too early for us to have any such observations, but it does seem to be a delightful part of Argentine life.