2.5 Years In and Down

23 Feb

Now that I’ve passed the year and a half mark in Argentina, and two and a half years in Latin America, I’m on a most definite downward slide. I’m finding this new .5 year marker to be a bit difficult. Last night I was looking over old pictures from college and when I first started out in Ecuador, and I almost didn’t recognize myself. Not only because I’ve lost so much weight, but because my face seems to have aged, not necessarily badly, but in a way that I wouldn’t have expected, maybe because I never thought about it before.

Today my buddy Goldberg told me to just come home already and the day was shot after that. Homesickness sank in and all I could think about was getting on the next flight to Boston. A quick check showed me that round trip was roughly $1,300, so another search for Buenos Aires to Salta, Argentina, was about $900 ARS. So I booked my vacation to Salta and Bolivia, finally, for the end of April and early May. But that’s another post.

I told Goldberg that my work wasn’t done yet, but I had to think about what I still had left to do. Realistically, I’ve accomplished all of the goals I set for myself. I arrived to Argentina essentially with nothing, got a job at a respected agency and built up a network of friends, though it often changes and is sometimes difficult to see how close those friendships are because, unlike what I was used to in the United States, we simply can’t all meet up all the time. I’m not perfect in Spanish and never will be, yet I’ve mastered it from a foreigners aspect so much so that I’m told I speak just like a porteño, and sometimes people are unaware that I’m a foreigner until I say so, either intentionally or by saying something odd.

Just recently I was invited to a close friend’s birthday party and realized that only a few of his closest friends were invited. And so it dawned on me that while it’s incredibly hard to break into a circle of friends as a foreigner here, at least in one I have been invited in. No way can you ever tell me that I failed at my experience in Buenos Aires. I’m in tune with cultural references from the 80s and put the correct emphasis on the harshest swear words (¡qué la chupe!, conchuda, por ejemplo).

But two and a half years away from home is a really, really, really long time. It’s been over a year and a half since I stepped on U.S. soil. Many long term expats go home periodically, and I think that helps make the difference in being content with your new home. I’m certain that if I went home tomorrow for a couple of weeks I would come back refreshed and ready to go. But I don’t have a month of vacation time, nor the extra few thousand bucks lying around to pick up whenever I feel like. So this little anniversary of sorts is not one that I relish, nor one which I care to think of as a memorable milestone. It’s simply a reminder of how far I’ve gone since I was once a young and naive college grad who loved to travel and speak Spanish.

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