Fin (End)

And so we find ourselves wrapping up the journey.    Kate and Jake completed their year of school and were promoted to their next grades.  It is impossible to say how proud of them we are.  There were times where it seemed so daunting, moving to a new school, understanding a new language, addressing the different culture, but they kept at coming back each day and they made it.  It seems that the lesson there is just to keep showing up and anything is possible.

Kate and Jake each had separate “actos” which are graduation ceremonies where the awards are handed out and the children are officially promoted  to the next grade.  As an absurdly competitive person, it was wonderful attending such an event knowing for certain that my children wouldn’t win any awards but that advancing to the next grade was good enough. Perhaps an attitude I should have more often.

Michele and I had an amazing experience buying art from Miguel Biazzi. We had set up a last day together date to visit some art galleries and have a little lunch for two.  I had seen a painting in San Telmo with my brother but hadn’t gotten around to stopping by with Michele.   When we came by Biazzi’s studio, the painting that I wanted was sadly sold.  Fortunately, his enterprising wife convinced us that there were many other opportunities to own his work and sold us not one, but two of his paintings.  We discovered that the artist is entirely self taught and had grown up in a small town in the north of the country before moving to Buenos Aires.  His wife also informed us that he disliked any and all commercial aspects of art.  After further discussion, the artist himself was summoned from his workshop.  We told him about our journey to Argentina and how thankful we were to have the opportunity to purchase these beautiful reminders of our trip.  He was literally moved to tears and proceeded to inscribe a  note to us on the back of our new purchases and paint us a small thank you gift. An incredibly moving experience that once again shows that to really get to enjoy a place, one needs to be open to the surprises that the place has to offer.

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Mmmm

We then lunched at the wonderful Aramburu Bis (which we wish we would have discovered earlier).  Definitely on our recommended list.   Later that week I managed to I accomplished my long standing goal of having lunch at Kentucky Pizza, one of the big pizza chains in Palermo.  It was delicious!

That week we also had the last of our family “see you later” dinners at the home of Sebastian Sanson-Lopez and his far more lovely wife Julia.  They were the first people to invite us to their home in Argentina and it was fitting to have our last dinner with them.  Over the course of the year, Sebas was alway available to help with any question, big or small and to have the type of long and interesting conversations that really enable a person to get to know about a new place.  They are simply wonderful people and we are forever grateful that they made time in their busy lives for us.2015-12-15 20.37.01

Before departing, Michele and I had one last dragon to slay and that was Jose Ignacio Ferrero, the Uruguayan beach town.  We had visited previously when a volcanic eruption caused us to have to cancel our plans to visit Bariloche at the last second.  Unfortunately, the town was totally deserted and with cold beaches and closed shops and restaurants, there really wasn’t much to do.  We left early and took a two night credit at the hotel. So, despite the fact that it was our final weekend before our guests arrived, we took off for Uruguay for a beach weekend.  Like many other things at this point in the journey, something that had been mediocre became spectacular.  The weather was amazing and we had a terrific time riding horses, body surfing and, of course, enjoying the amazing scene in Jose Ignacio.

2015-12-13 14.46.222015-12-12 19.02.462015-12-11 20.43.48In a sense, our time at Jose Ignacio is a metaphor for lots of things we encountered in Argentina:  we tried something we thought would be fun and interesting, we didn’t get it quite right so we tried it again the right way and it was terrific.  A great lesson for many things.

After the kids finished school, we had just  two days to pack up our apartment before our friends from Palo Alto arrived.  It was a bit of a frenzy but we got it done.  When the Rellers and Levine’s descended on Palo Alto with their 5 kids, we had to take the logistics to a new level.  By this time, however, touring Buenos Aires was old hat for us (although incredibly fun).  We took them to all of our favorite spots including Recoleta Cemetery, San Telmo Market, Tres de Febrero Parque and La Boca.  Naturally we also hit our favorite restaurants including, Don Julio, Sotto Voce,  San Juanino, El Cuartito, Casa Cavia and Olivetti.  On Sunday I managed to pull off a hat trick, sneaking off after dinner to meet Mark Taber for a couple of drinks and then finding Deena and Bill for a nightcap at midnight.  We were certainly going pedal to the metal.

On our last night in Buenos Aires, we celebrated by visiting my favorite event, La Bomba de Tiempo at the Konex center.  Naturally it was a big hit with the Levine’s and Reller’s and we had a great evening dancing away to the Latin drum rhythms.   A few of my local friends were good enough to join me for my final night in Buenos Aires so while the Palo Alto crew left early to grab dinner at a fancy restaurant down town, I headed out with Martin, Chespi, Lucilla, Emi and Martin to a run down Peruvian joint in the middle of nowhere.  The place had the best ceviche I’d had in South America and, more importantly, I was super touched that these folks would make the effort to see me off on my last night.

In the middle of the night, as I was swaying along with the crowd to the music, surrounded by friends both new and old, I felt as if I were standing atop a mountain.  We had taken on this challenge of Buenos Aires and truly thrived. Sometimes I consider whether this is just much ado about nothing.  After all, it’s not like we rose from poverty to become successful or overcame some type of tragedy. We are wealthy ex-pats who chose to live abroad, what’s the big deal?  But on the other hand, that’s really just the point.  We didn’t have to do what we did.  We chose to because we thought that finding new challenges and overcoming them is what makes life so rich and fulfilling.   That night, swaying to the beating drums, there was no doubt in my mind that it had.

 

Our Apartment in Palermo Chico

Lots of people have asked me about what life is like for us in Buenos Aires so I wanted to share a bit about our apartment.

When we came to Buenos Aires in August 2014 looking for a place to rent, we had no idea how much time we would spend in our apartment.  This is where Ted works, where I spend time researching our next adventure, and where we come home to after hot summer days or rainy winter ones.  Luckily we love it!

It is a big sunny apartment in a modern building.  Our apartment building is the tallest building in Buenos Aires.  Since I get a little queasy with heights, we chose to live on the 10th floor (instead of the 44th), but the views are still great.  We have views of downtown to the south, uptown (incuding the parks and the suburbs) to the north and the river to the east.

Our building is located in Palermo Chico, right next to the museum of modern art.  We chose it because it’s close to parks, museums and not too far from the hip restaurant/shopping area (Palermo Soho/Palermo Hollywood).  It is a little bit quieter than some of the other areas of the city, so it makes it a good place to live.

The kids love the pools.  There is a heated one on the rooftop and a big outdoor pool that has a pool bar in summertime. Ted seems to love the ‘charla’ (banter) with the security guards. If he is late for our lunch date, I can usually find him downstairs discussing ‘football’ (his favorite team is Boca) or sharing a ‘mate’ (an Argentine herbaceous tea) with the guards.

I really like all the natural light, the upstairs gym, and the modern aesthetic.  Probably more modern than I would choose in Palo Alto, but hey, we are now city folks, so why not?

Rooftop Pool!
Rooftop Pool Fun!
La Cocina
La Cocina
View of Rio Plata
View of Rio Plata
Outdoor View of Rio Plata
Outdoor View of Rio Plata
We live in the Taller Tower.
We live in the Taller Tower. 10th Floor.
Dining Room with Northern View
Dining Room with Northern View

 

Jake's Room
Jake’s Room
Master Bedroom
Master Bedroom

 

Ted's Office
Ted’s Office
Northern View from Apartment. Looking over Palermo Parks towards Suburbs.
Northern View from Apartment. Looking over Palermo Parks towards Suburbs.

WARNING: Reading this post may gross you out….. “PIOJOS”

Piojos, also knows as LICE.  While many friends of ours in Palo Alto have had lice, we have always been fortunate to evade the bugs.  We had heard that lice in Argentina are rampant and that, unlike in the United States, it’s not considered a big deal, however I remained hopeful that our luck would continue.  Well, we finally got hit.  And, we got hit hard.

Kate started complaining that her head was itchy a few days ago.  So, I checked her for lice (note: I actually have lice training, so I know what to look for) and didn’t see anything.  The next morning she was complaining a lot and so I checked her again AND…there it was…..LICE!!  Yuck.

So, I immediately called the school and told them that we would be out for the day.  They seemed very lax about the whole thing.  I started to panic a little, but then went into research mode.  I found a company here called “Chau Piojos” (or goodbye lice).  I put the kids in a taxi and off we went.

The woman taught me how to use the fine little comb and told me about a special products to use on the hair.  I had her check Jake and I too (yep, we both had it).  She was lovely and guaranteed us that we were 100% lice free when we left.  The entire process took about 2 1/2 hours, but it was good to know that we were bug free.

I learned that I should be doing this with Kate about 3 times a week b/c she will certainly get them again.  Good to know that I have the tools and now I know what to do.

Until we meet again PIOJOS.

Jake - Getting Lice Removed
Jake – Getting Lice Removed
Kate - getting ready for the process
Kate – getting ready for the process

Tale of Two Dinners

Last week I attended two dinners with other mom’s from Kate and Jake’s school.  The first one, on Thursday night, was at a restaurant in Belgrano (starting time at 9 pm) and it included 23 mom’s from Kate’s class.  The second one was on Friday night. It was at the home of a friend of mine, Natalia.  Natalia has a daughter in Jake’s class and she invited 4 other mom’s from Jake’s class to join us.

I was thrilled that mom’s were reaching out to me and wanted to include me in their events.  However, I was also somewhat scared too because my spanish isn’t great.  The dinner on Thursday night was tough.  Everyone was talking very quickly and I felt somewhat awkward that I couldn’t join the conversation.  The women were very kind and a few reached out to me in english.  However, I really wanted to join the larger conversation and felt that I should be speaking spanish.  I ended up leaving around 11:30 feeling somewhat defeated.

Mom's dinner party for Kate's class
Mom’s dinner party for Kate’s class

I had to get my nerve up to go to the second dinner party on Friday night.  My friend Natalia lived in the US for 15 years and speaks perfect english.  However, when I arrived Natalia told me that it would be good for me to speak spanish and practice.  She was right.  Having a smaller group of women that understood my situation was perfect.  They were all so kind, talked slowly and made sure I understood.  I did much better.  I had a wonderful time and made some new friends.

I think this experience showed me that there will be good days and bad days.  When I am feeling frustrated or defeated, I need to keep trying and know that there will be a good experience right around the corner.