Argentina

Moving On

"This is the tale of the tiny snail

And a great big grey-blue humpback whale. 

This is a rock as black as soot

And this is a snail with an itchy foot. 

 

The sea snail slithered all over the rock

and gazed at the sea and the ships in the dock.

 

And as she gazed she sniffed and sighed

The sea is deep and the world is wide!

How I long to sail said the tiny snail. "

 

- "The Snail and the Whale"  by Julia Donaldson

 

We loved our life in Argentina. 

Our original 1-2 year plan for life in South America stretched out to 7 years. We were starting to get itchy feet and thinking about our next move when an unexpected opportunity came into our lives.

We sold/gave away almost everything we had in Argentina and left there in April 2016. Now, we're working on developing our routines and our life in another country. 

After nearly 3 months away, I can tell you that we really miss Argentina.

We miss our lifestyle there, the people, the closeness that we felt with teachers, friends and neighbors.  We miss our walkable neighborhood in Córdoba, we miss our shopkeepers at the deli, vegetable market and health food stores. We miss being able to live without a car. We miss the good quality beef and wine and the ritual of Sunday asado. We miss public parks in every neighborhood. 

Moving is tough. An international move with kids ages 8 and 4 is even tougher. This isn't a decision that we came to lightly. We want a home base. We want to give our girls some stability of being in one spot for several years, but we're really not the stay-in-one-spot-type-of-people. The more we see of the world, the more we want to see; the more we want to experience and discuss and celebrate. We want our children to be citizens of the world.

Dear Argentina, we'll be back.

It's such a grand country. Even with our 6 week road trip in 2014 and other trips around the country, there is so much to explore. I'm sure that we'll be back to visit, if not to live. Argentina takes up a huge place in our hearts. While we look forward to our coming adventures, it's hard to close the previous one when it was so good. 

Chau, Argentina. Hasta luego. Nos extraña mucho. 

(Goodbye Argentina. See you again. We miss you very much.) 

We're Dual Citizens!

Our Argentine passports just arrived!

Our Argentine passports just arrived!

After an 18-month process, we are proud to announce that we are dual US/Argentine citizens! Okay, the adults of the family are naturalized Argentine citizens. Our youngest is a natural-born Argentine citizen since she was born here. And our 7-year old... we are still working on her status. She is a permanent resident but citizenship is a bit tougher since she was born in the USA and is currently a minor, but we will get to that in detail later. 

Dual citizenship was not our goal of moving abroad, but it has been a nice benefit. 

Brad represented the two of us throughout the process with the federal courts in Cordoba and it was an unbelievably smooth and inexpensive, albeit fairly long process. We have now been through both the permanent residency and citizenship/naturalization process here in Argentina and I daresay, citizenship was easy. 

The US State Department does not limit the citizenships that one can acquire and you can read more about that here and here . The main point as written is: 

"In light of the administrative premise discussed above, a person who:
  • is naturalized in a foreign country;
  • takes a routine oath of allegiance to a foreign state;
  • serves in the armed forces of a foreign state not engaged in hostilities with the United States, or
  • accepts non-policy level employment with a foreign government,
and in so doing wishes to retain U.S. nationality need not submit prior to the commission of a potentially expatriating act a statement or evidence of his or her intent to retain U.S. nationality since such an intent will be presumed."
(i.e.: We have no intent of giving up US Citizenship, and the US government presumes the same.) 

We'll be writing about the steps to Argentine Citizenship in great detail in upcoming posts. 

ALSO in the works: We're reclaiming Italian citizenship (granted since birth to Brad and the girls) with the goal of the three passport trifecta of USA-Argentina-Italy. The exciting details will be saved for yet ANOTHER post- or ebook if these citizenship posts get too lengthy. 

We feel that Argentine citizenship was a natural step for our family because:

  • Our youngest will always be a natural-born Argentine citizen
  • We have spent the last 5 years here in Argentina
  • We feel a great connection to the Argentine people and culture
  • As citizens, we can move freely throughout Mercosur (The EU of South America) without visas (US Citizens need visas for many countries in South America or pay a reciprocity fee for entry) and have the flexibility to travel/work at will... and not run into the possibility of having permanent residency taken away from us at some point in the future. 
  • While we do not plan to stay forever, this gives us options. 

The girls will have the option to live, study and work on three continents, with little or no bureaucratic or visa requirements.  United States of America, Italy/European Union (EU), and Argentina/Mercosur and its affiliate members.  

Examples:

Want to move to Medellin, Colombia? Residency visa is granted in approximately 5 days to Argentine citizens. Nothing more than a background check which can be obtained same day. The process is substantially easier than what US Citizens would have to do to get a similar residency visa in Colombia.

Want to go to University in Germany?  It's free to all. See the link here to compare University costs throughout Europe. 

Now we just have to keep track of our 7 passports... hopefully soon to be 8...and not long after that...12! Looks like we'll need a larger travel wallet. 

 

 

 

 

Life on the Road - 38 days around Argentina

Reflections on our epic Argentine road trip. I can't believe this was 8 months ago already...


On the Road!

We did it!

38 days away from home. 6100 km (3800 miles) driven. One car. Two adults & two little girls.

11 hotels/apartments/houses
10 cities.

A circle around the center of Argentina.

One incredible adventure.

Day 1, Pilar: On January 24th, we left on a spectacular road trip that would circle us around the midsection of Argentina. In a tour like nothing we've ever done before (okay, there was the Chilean road trip 3 years ago, but given the geography of Chile, that was one way and not a ROUND trip. We were moving from Bariloche to Cordoba via Chile, but I digress.) Starting on January 24th, 2014, we had our car all packed and drove 6.5 hours, through Rosario, to get to our friends house in Pilar, just northwest of Buenos Aires. We stayed there, met his pet pig named Peppa (a pet at that time, which since has been made into dinner) and had a lovely tour of Pilar, along with ice cream and sushi.

Brad and Franca watching Geneva and Delfina in the waves.

Days 2-4, Mar Chiquita: Heading out the next day, we drove south along the coast to Mar Chiquita, a sleepy coastal village just north of Mar del Plata. We stayed a gorgeous three nights with Brad's cousin, her Argentine husband and their daughter. They  split time between the Northeast USA and coastal Argentina. Their daughter is 1-1/2 years older than our oldest  daughter and  they were fast friends. We loved the freedom that a constant playmate afforded us. Aaaah.... The food here was incredible. The lifestyle here was even better. I could really get used to living as a beach bum!

Sea Lion colony in Mar Del Plata.

On our way out of town, we swung through Mar del Plata. Crazy. I do not want to EVER stay there during high season. Wow. We had driven through a few days earlier to see the sea lions and knew what we were getting ourselves into.
A quick stop at a street market to pick up a very special loaf of bread and other random snacks that were recommended to us and we were off! Again.
Day 5-6, Bahia Blanca: Heading south further. Very hot. Saw the movie Frozen with our older daughter here. Franca, the toddler,  fell in the park and scraped her nose. Now she has a perfect stripe up her face and looks a little chipmunk-esque. We stayed at the Hotel Argos, and were lucky enough to get an updated king corner suite. It was really lovely and since the girls are small, we all curled up in one king-sized bed together. :) We won't be able to do that for too much longer!

Walking along the beach in Las Grutas during low tide.

Days 7-9, Las Grutas:  After a meandering drive southwest, we made an unplanned detour to Las Grutas. We rented a great apartment on the beach. Again, we drove up to see it, ran back to the car to tell Brad and the girls, then ran back to reserve it. Not many vacancies during high season! We had some gasoline drama here- the only gas station in town was empty and waiting for a tanker truck to fill up- and had been for days. We didn't have enough gas to get back to the next bigger city. Luckily we didn't have to drive anywhere for a few days and could have always taken a taxi 12 km to get a can of gasoline if needed. On our last planned day there, the station got a fill-up and so did we.
The beach was beautiful with "pools" cut out of the stone that you could access during low tide. It was a great sandy beach with high cliffs leading to the town up above. On the very end of town there was even a water slide (Geneva thoroughly enjoyed this) and cabañas and carpas (tents) along the length of beach that you can rent to stay out of the sun.
Day 10, Neuquen: A quick stop for the night, then taking off the next morning. We stayed at Casino Magic Hotel for a bit of luxury.
This is the only place we stayed at for only one night- but also the only place we stayed at twice (once down and once on our way back). Since it was such a quick stop, we ate at the hotel restaurant where we were one of three families there when it opened at 8:30 PM. Beautiful rooms, pool and public spaces. The restaurant was good, but not exceptional.

Standing in front of Volcan Lanin. Junin de los Andes, Argentina.

Days 11-12, Junin de los Andes: Snore.... Hotel was blech but grounds were amazing. We booked it that morning, just hours before we arrived, so beggars can't be choosers, right?  Unfortunately the weather was freezing cold and very windy. We had to buy more clothes for Daughter #1 to keep warm!! This was our jumping off point to see the spectacular  Volcán Lanín outside of town.
Days 13-17, San Martin de los Andes: Oh, what a beautiful little town! Shopping was crazy expensive and there were a ton of people blanketing the town but we still enjoyed it. We drove into town and straight to the tourism office to try to find a place to stay. After a few doozies, we found an apartment that was cute and adequate for a 5 night stay. Mexican food at Viva Zapata was unbelievable. We hiked to the lookout above town and then drove some trecherous gravel cliffs to other lookout. LOOOOOOng drive to volcano. Freezing still but I purchased 2 meters of fleece to wrap Franca. We also drive to Chapelco Mountain/Ski Resort where Brad and Geneva went down the alpine slide and later Geneva climbed the lakeside rock wall. San Martin was great little town that I definitely want to visit again!
Almost took a wrong turn to Chile on the way to Villa la Angostura. Stopped at an overlook and asked a tour bus driver. Turn around!!!
Days 18-19, Villa La Angostura: When we arrived, we had some time before check-in, so we stopped for a really beautiful lunch and I cried. I cried over my lamb because it was so good and our lives are so amazing!!! Geneva was asking about our engagement over dinner and wanted daddy to propose to me again, so we got re-engaged over dinner. Geneva lost a tooth the next night at dinner. I Bought an overpriced but beautiful Columbia jacket for myself. It was an eventful few days! We spent 2 nights, two different rooms in a great hotel but with a terribly bumpy and rutted dirt access road.
Days 20-24, Bariloche 1:  We found a little Apart-Hotel off of Av. de los Pioneros, close to downtown. This was a very different perspective from being so close to Llao Llao when we were previously living in Bariloche from Sept 2010-Feb 2011. The apartment was old and not the prettiest, but for a walk-up (no reservation again), we couldn't be too picky.

"Our" house in Bariloche.

Days 25-34, Bariloche 2: We are HOME- well, our old home!!! Back to the same house where we lived for 5 months in 2010- 2011. Geneva had her 3rd birthday in this house, we celebrated Christmas, Brad's birthday and we also decided here that we wanted another baby once we settled in Cordoba. Needless to say, this house is very significant to us, even if we were only here for 5 months.
We had nine days here again this time and it was paradise. There were some great updates to the place and we wanted to soak up every second of it. We also buried our dog's ashes in the beautiful yard. He loved the yard so much and Pablo, along with our other dog, Paloma, stayed in Bariloche for an additional 3 months (from Feb 2011- to May) while we were getting settled in Cordoba before they joined us via plane. We are all happy that he is there forever now. Cue the tears.

Ready for the Zip Line Canopy Tour!!

We did some of the tourist things as well as re-visiting some of our favorite places: Hotel Llao Llao for coffee. Cau Cau boat trip, Bellevue Casita de Te (twice!), Canopy zip-line for Geneva and Brad. Incredible drive to El Bolson (the furthest South we visited- almost as far as Puerto Madryn, but on the other side of the country.)
Alas, all good things must come to an end. We leave and head north to Neuquen once again. It is a spectacular drive north out of the city.
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Days 35-36, Neuquen- a second time: The only city where we stopped twice. We even stayed at the same hotel. Head to the Museum, check out downtown.
Day 37, Villa Mercedes: After discovering that we had an incredibly smooth, straight, beautiful hiway drive, we drove like the wind and kept on for 8 hours until we got to Villa Mercedes. Booked the hotel at a gas station/lunch stop with Wifi along the way.
Day 38, Cordoba!!! Home! We completed the incredible circuit, heading east from Cordoba to the coast of Argentina, down along the coast and across to the west, then straight up the middle of the country back home again.
The girls were wonderful- with the worst of the driving days being the first (getting accustomed to it) and the last (great anticipation of home).
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Tips to Remember :
  • Never tell your 6 year old when you will be getting home. Just show up. We spent several hours driving from Villa Mercedes with Ms.-Super-Crabby-Pants in the back seat. Pulling out the infamous "Are we there yet??" every few minutes. Never. Again.
  • No matter how much you pack, you are packing too much. We had one duffel bag of clothes  shared between all of us and it was too much. I would cut the clothes drastically next time. We were traveling between climates (hot and beach for our first 4 stops, then super chilly for 2 stops, moderate temps for the rest) so I packed for everything, or so I thought. We all had clothes we didn't use and Daughter #1 needed two warmer pieces that we purchased along the way.
  • Plan surprises along the way for the kids. Little toys packed, activity books, unexpected stops- even if just to a beautiful lookout. It is worth it.
  • Get gas /petrol/nafta- whatever you call it- get it WHENEVER you can! We got stuck in Las Grutas with very little gas, the only gas station in town was awaiting a fill (and had been waiting for days) and the next nearest gas station was 20 km away. Not cool, but there are worse places to be stuck, for sure :)

Reflecting on the trip, I can't believe that we all survived 38 days of family togetherness in a sedan! Our two daughters, ages 6 and 1-1/2 years old, both in car seats. One driver throughout (thank you, Hon, for the safe journey!) What an incredible adventure!!

Expat Feature: George, part 2 of 3 - Preparation

Here is part 2 of George's Expat story. If you missed part 1, you can find George's Expat story Part 1 here.

Jorge Pic 3

Careful preparation and organization are vital elements for any kind of move, but nothing could have prepared me for the physical, financial and emotional exhaustion that came with moving abroad.

My spouse and I were going to a country that is very different from the United States culturally with its customs, food and overall way of life.

For starters, we’ve always been big spenders. I myself have a DVD obsession while my spouse is hooked on novels and clothes. Would we be able to keep up this lifestyle in Argentina? For that answer we went to the expert, my mother.

My mom warned me months before my move that life in Argentina would take some getting used to but nothing can really prepare you for the journey until you’ve actually set foot here. Although she meant well, she practically sold us a lemon when she convinced us that the politics, financial and job outlook here was great, but we fell for it and decided to start packing.

So now we had to go through a ton of items in our storage unit and weed out what we needed, wanted, and what needed to go in the trash. Since our budget was limited, we could only afford to send four boxes, 50 pounds each through an international moving company. That in itself set us back 1,200 US dollars. We gave away whatever we didn’t want to our New York family and left the stuff we couldn’t take in their basement with the promise of returning to reclaim the items at some future date.

Although we had been preparing for months, we were still packing, taking stuff out and reorganizing things until the last minute.

This was hard on us but even harder on our family. My in-laws barely had time to say goodbye to us. We could tell that they were disappointed. My spouse and I knew that our move to Argentina was quite possibly a one-way trip and so did they. Our family wanted the chance to say goodbye and yet there simply wasn’t time and that’s possibly one of our biggest regrets; not making enough time for them.

I don’t think I was too nervous about the move itself but that might have been the effects of the Xanax I took before getting on the cab to get to the airport. My spouse has always been my rock and I drew strength from how well he was handling everything. I think the only time I became emotional was when the plane took off and I saw New York from up above for what was possibly the last time. But I hadn’t left The States, not just yet. Our plane landed in Miami and there was a layover of a couple of hours before we boarded the next plane which would take us to Argentina.

I guess it was kind of symbolic that my life began when I arrived in Miami and now I was saying goodbye to it before beginning a whole new adventure in Argentina. As the second plane took off, I watched the night lights of Miami one last time.

Goodbye U.S.A. the only home I’ve ever known. Thank you for my life.


 

We'll be posting the final installment in George's story next week. How has he adjusted to life in Argentina? Has it met expectations? We'll see!

Perfect Imperfections

A Perfect Fall Day, Córdoba, Argentina
A Perfect Fall Day, Córdoba, Argentina

** This is a post the I wrote back in June but for some reason never posted.  So here it is! **

As I was walking home from bringing Daughter#2 at her preschool this afternoon, a 4 km round trip through a beautiful neighborhood on a partly cloudy, crisp early fall day, I kept thinking about the term 'perfection'. What a perfect day. What an amazing experience, walking these residential streets that I walk every day, but being truly present and aware of the beauty.

Truth be told: My music app wasn't working so I was forced to walk without the distraction of a steady beat pumped into my ears.

I breathed deeply, walked smoothly, noticed the leaves falling in the breeze. I picked up the most perfect golden red leaf from the ground... and then noticed its imperfections. The small tear towards the bottom. The spots of brown. It wasn't perfect at all. But what in nature really is? It is all very imperfect, but that is what makes it beautiful.

A 'perfect' leaf on my walk.
A 'perfect' leaf on my walk.

Of course, nature's beauty is fleeting and as I stopped to take a photo, I must have dropped this perfect leaf and I couldn't find it again.

Perfection and the lack thereof has been a recurring theme lately. It is something that keeps coming up in my world. Needless to say, it's been on my mind.

One of my favorite songs on my walking playlist is John Legend's "All of Me".  If you don't know it or want to listen again, you can see a version of it here (live version appropriate for all ages). "Cause all of me Loves all of you. Love your curves and all your edges All your perfect imperfections."

I was also thinking about a blog that I saw for the first time last night. A truly inspiring story about a woman's weight loss journey and finding love in herself and her imperfect body. Check out the story at I'mperfect Life.

The underlying theme: Our lives are never perfect, our relationships are never perfect, no matter what they look like from the outside.

Along the same lines- A country is never perfect, either.

No matter where you are, you have to take the good with the bad and find beauty in the imperfections, the frustrations, the day to day nuances that may drive you crazy (See my list of the Pros & Cons of Argentina Part 1Part 2!) You have to decide if those imperfections are a deal-breaker for you. If you stick it out, if you make the best of whatever imperfect situation or country, it can help grow resilience, an open mind and open heart.

This is not to say that you have to accept the way things are without changing (yourself, the situation, or both). Just remember to look for the beauty among the (seemingly more obvious) imperfections of the journey.

That is all. I am off to enjoy more of this absolutely perfect day.

Lisa

Food and The Mother of Invention

If you asked me 5 years ago whether I thought food would be a major factor in our lives in South America, I never would have considered it. Food was food. Sure there were things I liked to eat and I knew there would be things that I wouldn't be able to find in South America, but I am here to tell you that our cooking and eating habits have changed and matured dramatically since we left the USA in early 2009. Poached Pears (With Chocolate Sauce and Vanilla Cream Topping)

In Uruguay, our major adjustment was that the dinner hour doesn't start until about 8 PM (this is true in Argentina as well, with many restaurants hitting their busiest times around 10 PM). When we visited Uruguay in early 2008 during our exploratory trip with our infant daughter, this wasn't an issue. We brought the baby with us in a stroller and she slept while we ate. Toddlers, unfortunately are not quite as flexible. We opted to make food at home whenever possible and more often than we care to admit, we would wait for the take-out pizza place to open at 7 PM so we could get our pizza, pizzeta (crust, sauce and toppings with no cheese) and faina.

Weekly Produce for URMOVINGWHERE Family

Luckily, wherever we have lived in South America, there has been an ample supply of fresh produce and we could find the raw ingredients to make many things. On the other hand, the furnished rentals where we've lived have posed a challenge with the appliances/cookware provided. I started to cook in earnest, while not buying many durable goods because we've been moving frequently. Necessity is the mother of invention and I learned to make all the things that we might be craving: pad thai, fried rice, mac & cheese, lasagne, and all sorts of sauces, soups and spice blends from scratch.

I've always loved to bake, but I started experimenting with alternative flours (there are many gluten-free alternatives here) and I've had great success with everything from pizza crusts to moist fruit breads and crumbly scones.

Many of my cooking challenges arise from using recipes or meal-planning sites from the USA. As we are not in the US, I do not have access to certain foods (like kale, organic anything, sweet potatoes and most packaged items) and appliances (like crockpots- not available here, or a blender- I refuse to buy one). I've made do with substitutions for some things and created my own modified prep and cooking methods for others.

I am going to start to include recipes and workarounds here, as a supplement to our travel blog. Food is a huge part of an experience in any country. While I sometimes like to cook North American food as a reminder of 'home', I use many international influences, all the while modifying recipes to fit with the foods we have readily available in central Argentina.

Hope you enjoy our international food journey. You might just find a recipe that you'd like to try as well. ¡Buen Provecho!

I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas...

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate the day! Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to everyone!!! Our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree & Little F With An Angel

This is a season of strong emotion for us- as it is for many people. We have chosen not to travel back 'home' for Christmas and rather travel in the summer (June/July) to the US when we can enjoy the weather there and get away from the winter here in Argentina.

That does not make this time of year any easier. As we struggle to create warm-weather Christmas traditions without our extended family nearby, it doesn't quite seem like Christmas to us. We both grew up in the upper midwest of the United States. Christmas meant cold and snow and baking Christmas cookies and navigating holiday storms/slippery roads to visit family.

Visiting Papa Noel December 2013

Our Christmas in Argentina will consist of opening up a family present to each of the girls on Christmas eve, along with setting out cookies/milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. Unfortunately no homemade cookies this year. 100 F heat with a broken AC is too warm to turn on the oven. We'll be streaming Christmas music on the ipad (avoiding "I'll be Home For Christmas"-- that always makes me cry) and enjoying plenty of ice cream and many a frosty beverage in an attempt to keep cool.

Christmas morning will be chaotic, like many households with young kids. Our 6 year old and 1.5 year old will dive into their presents and we'll take a few new pool toys out to enjoy right after breakfast. Christmas day will be no baking for us. We'll be grilling salmon and beef tenderloin on the parilla and taking dips in the pool to cool off in between cooking.

Christmas memories will not always be like this and we are planning to enjoy a snowy white Christmas with family again very soon. Right now though, our Christmas is bittersweet. We are missing family and the Christmas experience of our childhood as we create a new 'normal' warm weather Christmas for our girls. Lets just hope that I don't start bawling during all of our planned skype calls with family! :)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Argentina!!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!

Mandatory: Exploratory Trip(s)

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When we were considering the realities of a move abroad in 2008, we traveled with daughter #1, who was 3 months old at that time to Montevideo, Uruguay and Buenos Aires, Argentina. If we hadn't explored our potential move cities in advance, we probably would not have made the move abroad.

We CANNOT imagine and DO NOT recommend moving abroad, especially with children, without scoping out the location(s) in person first.

It took us a year after that first exploratory trip to put our ducks in a row and plan our move to South America. We moved in March 2009. This was not a quick decision and we'd been contemplating our options for years before.

Like many of our readers, we had completed a ton of online research to even narrow the locations down to Uruguay or Argentina in the first place. Then, traveling with an infant during our scouting trip was simple (at least compared to traveling with a toddler or preschooler!) We wandered and walked for hours, checking out neighborhoods, talking to people, gathering info and heading out at all hours of the day and night. Late night South American dinners are easy-peasy with a sleeping baby at your side!

We receive so many questions about the places where we have lived and we are happy to help, but we can't make the decision for you and you shouldn't rely on ANYONE - let alone a stranger- to sway your decision. You need to see a place in person to really know if that location is right for you.

We recently learned of a young family who had moved to Montevideo sight unseen only to find that they hated it and left after the first week. They are now very comfortably settled in a gorgeous coastal town in Argentina. Their initial experience sounded quite traumatic and although all signs pointed to Uruguay being the perfect fit for them, it was not.

The day-to-day realities of a city could me much, much different for you based on any number of factors: ability to blend in, language skills, your cultural background, expectations, socio-economic level, etc..

Please consider a scouting trip (or two) to any foreign location you may consider living. Your scouting trip, along with all the online information and contacts that you can gather will help you form an accurate picture of a place. Don't forgo this crucial step in the planning process.

To learn more of the specific steps in planning a scouting trip, check out this very informative post on Moving Abroad With Children.

 

 

Pros and Cons of Argentina: Part 1 of 2

After our last post about the Pros and Cons of Uruguay, we of course had to follow up with our perspective of Argentina. We were in Bariloche for 5 months and now in Cordoba for 2 years. We love it here for many reasons and want to tell you about it. This one has been a much tougher list to write. Why do we love it here? Argentina has some very distinct problems and some of the country's economic challenges are getting worse by the day. The Uruguay list was relatively simple. We've been away from it for over two years. We've had time to reflect and consider our lives within that context.

It's like we can't see the forest through the trees right now.

And, our standard disclaimer: There is no perfect place and not everyone will agree with the following, but here's our take on Argentina.

I am addressing each point in the same order so show the switch from an Uruguay Con to an Argentina Pro for us. Hope you can follow my madness:

PROS:

  • Argentina is (Relatively) Cheap.  Where we were renting a 2 bedroom/1 bath house in Pocitos (Montevideo, Uruguay), we are now paying a little more than half to rent a 3 bedroom/3bath house with a pool in Cerro de Las Rosas (Cordoba, Argentina). Unfortunately, prices keep going up. Argentina does have 20% inflation, although they claim it is much lower. Since we are making dollars, Argentina is still much less expensive than Uruguay was for us. Kids items and electronics are still pricey (same as Uruguay) but housing, services and utilities are much less. 
  • Dry. We're in Cordoba which is at the eastern side of the Sierras Chicas, a small range of mountains that run north-south. We have hot and slightly humid summers and dry, mild winters. It is glorious and we love the climate here. Like Uruguay, we walk everywhere so weather is a huge factor for our day-to-day comfort and we have to plan accordingly. I have never paid so much attention to the weather before we moved to South America. 
  • No Sickness! Maybe we got through all of our 'Expat bugs'when we were in Uruguay but we haven't had more than the sniffles here- and that is with one kid in school. We had our share of sinus infections and flu in the past and are super happy to report that in Cordoba, we have not been sick at all (Knock on wood!) 
  • Residency Process Was a Cinch. We were amazed that after a 4 hour appointment in migracion (1 hour of which across the street at a cafe, waiting for them to process paperwork) We had our temporary DNI papers in hand and were waiting the official cards in the mail. The cards came within 2-1/2 weeks and we are thrilled to now be permanent residents of Argentina. We did have a little help because of our infant daughter, who is a dual citizen because she was born here but we also know people here who are foreigners and have gotten their residency within just a few visits to migracion. MUCH faster than the 2+ years it has been taking in Uruguay. 
  • Incredibly Welcoming. We've met so many wonderful people here, from introductions in the park, coffee shops and school. We are invited to peoples homes for asados, birthday parties and baptisms. People are so genuine and really mean it when they offer to help. It is a wonderful community.  
  • Walkable Residential Neighborhoods: We are in the Cerro De Las Rosas area of Cordoba, about a 20 minute drive NW of the city center. The houses are more typical suburban, but still connected to create higher density. We live 4 blocks from one main shopping street, 10 blocks from another, 8 blocks from G's school and the larger grocery stores have online ordering and delivery for what we can't get within our neighborhood. We get lots of exercise, put many miles on our stroller and walk nearly everywhere we need to go. If we head downtown, we take the bus (Diferencial line), which is plush and airconditioned :) (Disclaimer: this is the nicest bus line and costs double what the standard busses here do- about $1 USD)
  • Easy To Get Further. We have never owned a car in South America, so we walk, take public transportation and the occasional taxi all through the city and surrounding areas. We've also taken busses to Carlos Paz (just over the Sierras from Cordoba) overnight busses to Buenos Aires, Mendoza and on to Santiago, Chile. We've also rented a car, but transportation is really easy without a car of our own- even with two kids.
  • Goods & Materials. There is a wide variety of items available here, mainly because it is a much larger market than tiny Uruguay. Clothing is not the best quality all the time, so you have to be choosy where you shop. If you know what you are looking for, stay out of the malls and shop in the center of town, there are some good deals to be had. Not quite like shopping USA good deals (for clothing especially) but it's all relative. We've also found a great variety of imports, organic and specialty food items. You just have to know where to shop and maybe make a trip across town once per month or so to get them. :) 
  • Many 'Mixed' Families. We love the fact that there are so many expats here that have married Argentines. In fact, all of our expat friends, with the exception of a few missionary families, are Argentine/foreign mixed couples. They live here and are invested in a way that most transient expats are not. This give a great perspective on the ins and outs of the country and culture through people on the inside. In Uruguay, the expats we knew were like us - both members of the couple were from elsewhere. We really value all that we have learned through our local and expat friends throughout our journey.
  • Variety. There is a great variety of larger cities (Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Cordoba and Rosario) and a huge variety of climates/landscapes in a country as large as Argentina. From sub-tropical jungle in the northeast to semi-desert in the northwest, to mountainous ski-mecca around Bariloche and sleepy coastal beach towns on the east coast- all with the wide-open pampas inbetween. Argentina has a city and a landscape to fit nearly every preference.
  • Healthcare. I feel like I have won the healthcare lottery. I have Type 1 Diabetes, which in the past has made acquiring health coverage difficult at best. In Cordoba, we found APROSS, which is the provincial plan. Not only was I insurable through APROSS, coverage started from day 1 for both diabetes and pregnancy and also has 100% coverage of all of my Medtronic Insulin Pump supplies. The big deal: I pay $390 pesos per month for me and the baby. That's it. So, as of posting this, it is about $48 USD per month if you're using Argentina's  blue rate of exchange. More about this and other countries take on healthcare at a previous post, Healthcare in the Rest of the World. Since signing with APROSS, Argentina has past a law stating that people with pre-exisiting conditions can no longer be banned from coverage by private insurers, although they can be charged more. I have such amazing care and inexpensive coverage, I wouldn't dream of switching.

All that being said, I'm going to leave you with rainbows and sunshine and happy feelings about Argentina. Not all the case though, as we'll address the negatives in our  next installment. Stay tuned for the dark side of Argentina, plus a few things that are just plain bothersome. :)

 

Reflecting on Argentina

I've been working on the Pros and Cons list of Argentina but it is proving much more difficult than the previous Uruguay list. It was stressing me out so I took a break, enjoyed a great, long Easter weekend with my family which is continuing until Wednesday April 3rd. (Today and Tuesday are also Argentine federal holidays, making this a 6 day weekend. It is on my Cons list. You'll understand why.) So, the Argentina Pros and Cons list is long and has been very difficult. Maybe it is that we are still too close to the situation- since we are still here. Maybe it is just that Argentina, by nature is more complex. I've decided to split the Pros and Cons into two lists. Even then, I don't think my little lists will do justice to such a complex and varied country as Argentina.

At Iguazu Falls "Garganta del Diablo" March 2013

So, here we are enjoying the variety of life in Argentina (definitely on the Pro's list). In March, we spent one weekend at a friend's farm near Ascochinga, one at Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian border which I must write about in a future post, one weekend home (whew!) and this weekend with the XL Easter tourism weekend. Its been a busy month and made even busier contemplating, writing and re-writing the Pros and Cons of Argentina post.

It's coming. Promise.

Healthcare In The Rest Of The World

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/21/AR2009082101778.html A simple link. Read it.

There is so much wrong with healthcare in the United States and this article from the Washington post discusses the system in the USA compared to other countries, specifically Japan, Germany, France and Canada- although others are mentioned as well.

Here in Argentina, we have incredible healthcare at a fraction of what we paid in the USA. Our current costs are 390 pesos/month for me, the type 1 diabetic and our baby using APROSS, the provincial plan and 970 pesos/month for the other two members of our household (using MET, a private insurer and their most expensive plan). Total: 1360 pesos or $203 dollars/month at a 6.5 exchange rate.

With APROSS, there is a copay of $10 pesos, which is $1.54 dollars for my appointments (all baby appointments are without copay) and APROSS covers all of my Medtronic Insulin pump supplies with no copay. It is wonderful.

Enough said about how great the healthcare is here. Read the article:

 

By T.R. Reid -- Five Myths About Health Care in the Rest of the World

New Year's Eve in Cordoba

The lanterns New Year's eve is different in a country where it is summer rather than winter on December 31st. Last year was our first New Year's eve in Cordoba, after living through it in Montevideo and again in Bariloche. Bariloche was quiet, but then again, nearly every day in the country outside of Bariloche is quiet. Why should New Year's be an exception? Montevideo and Cordoba are decidedly NOT quiet on New Year's eve. They are the exact opposite of quiet. They are loud, obnoxious and extremely dangerous with every single person (or so it seems) lighting off fireworks. It's similar on Christmas eve where we had about 30 minutes of fireworks last week but we are bracing for a lot more tonight.

The thing is, it's not just one house or one fireworks display in the distance. It is coming from all around you. We live across from a park, so much of the noise comes from there, too. Seemingly every house lights off fireworks and there are pyrotechnics pop-up shops around town for the weeks leading up to the holidays.

We tend to be on the more reserved side and want to keep up the South American traditions, but also celebrate in our own way. Last year we purchased large paper lanterns that fill with hot air after lighting a giant wick on the bottom. They float away until the wick burns up (or burns the lantern). We lit paper lanterns like this when in Thailand many years ago and it was a peaceful way to celebrate while not contributing to the noise- unless you count the medium-sized-one crying. She did NOT like to let go of the lanterns last year!

httpvh://youtu.be/NXO_vIL3Ois

We'll be sending off paper lanterns again this year. After releasing the lanterns, we'll lay in the backyard to enjoy the neighborhood display and our lanterns floating away peacefully in the not-so peaceful night.

Lets just hope the huge cracks, pops and bangs throughout the neighborhood don't wake up the baby. Who am I kidding, they will. That's okay, it's New Year's Eve. :)

Happy New Year everyone! Make it a safe and beautiful celebration, wherever you may be. Wishing all your dreams come true in 2013!

What Makes Our Story Unique

Our goal for continuing this blog is to share our experiences living and traveling abroad as a family. We want to inspire people who may be considering the same and show that it is possible. You can follow your dreams and make living abroad a reality.

Although there are many other families who have lived abroad with many different circumstances, we think that our story is kind of interesting:

  • We are both from the Midwest of the USA. We are not a split-nationality marriage.
  • We're 30-something Gen-X-ers that have started our own businesses.
  • We are in South America by choice. No job transfers, no family here.
  • We've lived in 3 different houses, in 3 cities in 2 countries. Lived on the coast in Uruguay, the mountains of Bariloche and the edge of the pampas, in Cordoba.
  • Hubby is a vegetarian living in the land of beef
  • I've had Type 1 Diabetes for the last 10 years and use an insulin pump
  • We have two little girls now (started this adventure with one!)
  • Had a baby in Argentina (An unexpected home birth. We'll get to that story :)
  • Our 5-year old that is completely bilingual.
  • We speak English at home and Spanish everywhere else.
  • Traveled with two Pugs from the USA and into Montevideo, Bariloche and Cordoba. Our oldest, Pablo, died this past June.

So, in addition to traveling with kids and pets, balancing work online with sometimes sketchy internet/electrical connections, a maze of doctors and insurance options and a rich family life, we want to continue the story and create an open dialogue for comments and questions.

Are you considering moving to a foreign country? Just in the dreaming stage? You can do it and we're here to inspire you with our story.

 

Tren de las Sierras

Saturday October 13th we took the Tren de las Sierras for a 'Saturday Adventure Day' and we were pleasantly surprised by the entire day.

The train station is near-ish our house and although we've walked to Dinosaurio Mall (next door to the station) before, we didn't have the time nor did we want to expend the energy before a potentially long day. A $20 peso taxi ride and we were there. The station was dated but fine, looking like a traditional train station that you may see in any small town. Tickets from the Rodriguez del Busto station, which is the start, to the final stop in Cosquin were $5.80 pesos for each adult and $3.30 for G, with the baby traveling for free. That totals about $2.50 USD total for our tickets for a 2 hour ride!

 The trains were really nice and much more modern than we were expecting but thankfully I asked ahead of time and there are NO bathrooms aboard the trains. We chose our seats (after a quick stop in the bathroom) and within a few minutes we were on our way. The route took us west out of Cordoba Capital, through the sierra mountains, along a small   river to Lago San Roque (where the town of Villa Carlos Paz is along the lake's southwest shore). Then northwest to the town of Cosquín.

Now this is not a high speed train and it makes frequent (although fast stops) along the way. Our goal was the experience and the adventure rather than the end location. The plan included riding the train to the end of the line in Cosquin, stopping for lunch, playing at the park for a while and turning around to ride the train back again. On Saturday there are only two outbound trains and two inbound so we were sure to check on the times each way. There was one longer stop en route where there were vendors on the train platform selling bottled beverages and homemade goodies. We bought a round handmade brick-oven flatbread for $5 pesos. It was the heaviest bread ever and must have had a full kilo of flour used to make it. It was perfect.

Once in Cosquin, our plan came together perfectly. It was a sunny and slightly breezy day with warm temps and it was comfortable to be out during midday.  We had a relaxing walk where we found a cute local restaurant for lunch and stopped at an arcade afterwards for G. Then a quick stop for ice cream (yum!) and off to the park to run around a bit. After a while, it was time to walk the 3 blocks back to the Cosquin train station.

This train station was undergoing repairs and the building itself was closed. There was a ticket booth along the back of the building and port-a-potties that were thankfully well serviced. Sorry for all the bathroom commentary, but with small kids, you have to pay attention to these things!!! The train was nearly full when leaving as it was the last of the day but we got there early so we had no problem finding seats.

After a total of 4 hours on the trains looking at beautiful Argentine countryside and about 3 hours on the ground in Cosquin, we were tired, but happy for a successful and inexpensive Saturday Adventure Day in Cordoba Province.  Many more to come!

 

 

Rebirth of UR MOVING WHERE!

The decision has been made. The commitment is real. We're back and blogging again about our lives in South America! Check out this short video about our plans: httpvh://youtu.be/YrX5ahqHKTc

We're in Cordoba, Argentina and absolutely love it here. In the coming weeks and months, we'll tell you about:

  • Renting a house as foreigners
  • Banking and exchange rates- some great tricks
  • Travel with kids
  • Location Independent lifestyle/Location Independent Parenting
  • Renting a car (or "You Better Be Able To Drive A Stick")
  • Places to visit in and around Cordoba Capital
  • The Medical System and Health Insurance
  • Looking back at our time in Montevideo, Uruguay and Bariloche, Argentina

Thanks for following our adventures and we look forward to hearing from you!

Our Ultimate Plan

Snoopy Statues, Mears Park, St. Paul, MN
Snoopy Statues, Mears Park, St. Paul, MN

What are we doing in Argentina and how long will we stay? 

This past June/July, we spent 6 weeks in the USA, visiting family and friends, renting a house in an area that we'd consider moving back to someday. All of this with the hope of catching up with people and trying to figure out what our plan will be for the future.

We really enjoyed our time visiting the USA and loved the walkable neighborhood where we were staying. (I nearly had a heart attack when I walked into a Super Target for the first time- not knowing where to start... but I digress.) While we were there, I was more and more sure that we were going to be coming back to that very place sooner rather than later and even started throwing around a "1 year plan" that we'd be back in the USA within about year- to live.

That lasted about as long as it took to get back to Argentina.

Our lifestyle in Córdoba is just so hard to leave. 

Within days of returning to Córdoba, Argentina, we were not so positive of what seemed like a near sure thing just a few days earlier.

Upon return, our house was freezing cold (Cordoba had a really cold spell in the days before and in an un-insulated, masonry house with the heat turned off, it was COLD) which was not unexpected because it was the middle of winter. We bundled up for a few days and got settled back into our routine. We wake up at 8 AM every morning, walk daughter #1 to school, and on most days, return to have a leisurely coffee together and catch up on the day's to do list. It is a really comfortable lifestyle.

Our friends and neighbors checked in on our house while we were gone with no problems and everyone was happy to see us back.

Sure, we don't have some of the material things here that we might want but that is okay. We are comfortable with what we have and that makes it really hard to plan a departure. Cost of living and healthcare here are excellent, too....the only REALLY hard part is distance from family in the USA. Frequent Skype calls help, as do 6-8 week visits every summer. 

The Saturday after our return to Córdoba, we took the bus 2 hours across the Sierra mountains  to a friend's birthday party in Capilla del Monte. That town is just magical in it's own right, but at several moments during that afternoon, I looked around and marveled at the beauty of it all and how so many of the people surrounding us had the same questions and similar paths to ours.

At the Cordoba Airport. We're leaving for vacation!!!!
At the Cordoba Airport. We're leaving for vacation!!!!

After that initial cold snap, the weather warmed for a few beautiful weeks where we had temperatures in the 70s (with some 80s and 50's mixed in to even things out). And this is the middle of WINTER!!

Seeing the Excitement through New Eyes: 

We've recently met new friends from the USA who moved to our neighborhood and seeing the excitement and adventure in them as they start a new chapter in their lives is invigorating - even for those of us experiencing it second hand. Their wonder at the novelty of it all makes us remember those small things that we have grown accustomed to over the past 2.5 years in Córdoba.

For example, all the kissing. People kiss hello and goodbye on the right cheek here. EVERYONE does this. Teachers at school kiss every kid hello and goodbye. Everyday. If this is not a part of your cultural heritage, it can be overwhelming. We now love it and it brings a sense of community and closeness that cannot be achieved with a handshake or a simple hello.

Locals have large social networks here and so much of life here is about who you know, or who your friends know. We have connections here for just about everything- and are loyal to those connections. We have people to recommend if you are looking for a house, a car, appliance repair, yard work, pool maintenance, water service.

Language is Crucial to Integration

That being said, we are not as integrated here with the Cordobeses as we would like to be. We are both in Spanish classes again after a looooong hiatus and it feels good to have structured lessons again (Escuela de Español CELEC).

Our "baby" F is now 17 month old and we just started her in a local jardin de infantes, which is a mix between daycare and preschool. She is there for 3 hours/day and it is her primary spanish exposure, which is how started her older sister in Spanish at Caminito in Montevideo, Uruguay.

More social exposure in Spanish will help us all get the most out of our experience in South America.

So....

I can't believe our original 1-2 year plan from when we came to South America in March 2008 has extended into 4.5 years. I keep thinking that I'll wake up one day and be done with it all. So far, those thoughts have been fleeting and the desire to continue here in Argentina..... continues.

Our Continuing Adventures

Thanks to those of you who have written asking if we're okay.  Yes, we're fine. Just busy and what gets pushed to the back burner? Our travel blog. Work, family and setting up our lives in a new place has taken priority. Yes, we're in a new place, but before I tell you where, I'm going to back up to September 2010:

We made it to Bariloche and had a fantastic time there from the end of September through the end of February.  5 months of glorious views, nature hikes and our self-imposed retreat to figure out what our future may hold. We visited the tops of mountains, tiny charming Salones de Té, ate more smoked foods than I ever care to admit and left there with an extra 10 lbs each, despite all the hiking :)

The house we stayed at for those 5 months was perfect for us and in a great location right off the bus line. We managed without a car, even though we were staying 23 km outside of the city of Bariloche (just a few km from Hotel Llao Llao). Geneva attended a small Waldorf preschool called Mandala, about 12 km from our house. Nestled among the pine trees, Mandala was a fantastic nurturing environment with a mixed-age class.

Fast forward a bit... we were planning our departure from Bariloche and had Córdoba, Argentina on our radar. Córdoba is in the middle of the country and is the second largest city in Argentina after Buenos Aires.  Reviews of Córdoba were mixed. Some seemed to love it, others thought it left a lot to be desired. We wanted to check it out for ourselves because we thought it may just have the big-city feel that we were looking for without the immensity of Buenos Aires.

The question was, how to get there? We had a few options and picked an unlikely combination. They were:

  • Bus from Bariloche to Córdoba: Cheap, but 23 hrs +/- with a 3-year-old
  • Rent a car and drive directly: Insanely expensive for a one-way-rental in AR
  • Fly: Through Buenos Aires to Córdoba. Not too expensive, but we had a lot of baggage, and it's not very adventurous at all.

Our choice? Drive north through Chile instead, then fly from Santiago to Córdoba (via Montevideo)! We shipped most of our things to arrive in Córdoba ahead of us on Via Bariloche bus service.  Incredibly cheap and worked out perfectly, but I digress...

It took us 11 days for the entire journey, but we had a lot of fun doing it. We had a friend in Bariloche drive us in his SUV through the Andes to Puerto Montt, Chile. We stayed there for a few days, explored the surrounding areas of Choloé and Puerto Varas (even seeing penguins along the way).  And were completely wowed by the Mount-Fuji-esque Osorno volcano. We rented a car in Puerto Montt to head north.  One way rentals are much less expensive in Chile than they are in Argentina.  Think about it, with the geography of Chile, it is almost impossible not to drive north-south, or in our case, the opposite.

After Puerto Montt, we drove north to Pucón and stayed there for 3 days.  I loved the bohemian, backpacker vibe but felt a little unsettled looking up at a smoking volcano all day. We're midwesterners and total wimps about earthquakes and volcanoes!

Then, a marathon drive from Púcon to Santiago all in one day. About 700 miles of some incredibly gorgeous countryside. Chile had incredible infrastructure and Ruta 5 (aka extension of the Pan-American Highway), which we were traveling is perfectly maintained with some beautiful bridges, tunnels and of course, numerous toll booths along the spectacular landscape. All totaled for the journey in Chile, we spent 27,100 Chilean pesos (about $58.00 USD) on 14 toll booths. That is not counting any between Bariloche and Puerto Montt.

One night in Santiago and we were off to Valparaiso where we spent two nights. After a stressful entry to Valparaiso where Google was telling us our hotel was in one area where it was really about a km away (those narrow, steep, winding roads are not good for a mid-size rental car and people who are not used to said hilly streets) we eventually found where we needed to be.

Impression of Valparaiso: Meh. I was really disappointed because I thought it would be great. If we had to do it again, we'd stay in Viña del Mar and spend a day in nearby Valparaiso. We loved the beaches, energy and playgrounds of Viña (with a 3-year-old, playgrounds are a big deal).

After contemplating if we wanted to extend our time to stay in Vína, we pressed back to Santiago airport to turn in our rental car and catch a very roundabout flight to Córdoba.

After a glorious 24 hours layover in Montevideo with friends, we hopped our final flight to Córdoba and arrived late into our hotel room.

All this time (and for several additional weeks) our dogs were enjoying the paradise of Bariloche. We decided that this travel schedule would be impossible with 2 dogs in tow, so we left them with a wonderful family that watches small dogs.  We knew that the dogs would be happy in a home setting, a family with three young girls and a great property to roam freely- and we wouldn't have to worry.

Within the first three days in a hotel in Córdoba, we knew this is a place we want to stay for a while. Centro (downtown) is busy, with great shopping, Jesuit churches and historic sites, a tree-lined cannal winding through the city and a huge amount of pedestrian areas.

We found a month-long temporary rental in Nuevo Centro, a small furnished apartment that was in a great spot.

While we liked the apartment and the neighborhood, it was loud with traffic and parties on the weekends (it's near the universities, so many young people). We knew this all going into this rental, but  thought for a month, it's not bad. We had the option to renew there indefinitely but the building did not accept dogs and ideally, we wanted more space and a more residential neighborhood.

Next chapter to come about our housing search, schools, health insurance and cost of living in Córdoba......

Living the Life, Bariloche Style

We made it into San Carlos de Bariloche late last night after a long day of travel. Our non-stop flights were booked months ago with Pluna but we learned two weeks ago that the Pluna permit was pulled by the Argentine government and Pluna was no longer allowed to fly into Bariloche. Luckily, the airline re-accommodated us on other airlines and we ended up flying Pluna to Buenos Aires and LAN from BA to Bariloche - after a 5 hour layover in Buenos Aires. It was late when we finally arrived in Bariloche and even later after we claimed all of our bags and the dogs, but we made it. Many thanks to our new landlord Jamie, who picked us up from the airport in his truck. We all just barely fit.

The house we are renting is exceeding our expectations and we even had a bottle of wine, a box of handmade Bariloche chocolates and a budín to greet us upon arrival. Fabulous! We are exploring every inch of the space and getting unpacked. The dogs already love having a fenced-in yard for the first time in their lives and the many plants and birds have been a huge source of entertainment already for our daughter.

The most spectacular aspect of the house is not the inside, but the view to the outside. We'd seen photos of this view before we got here, but it is even more breathtaking in person. It looks like a painted set in a play and it's hard to believe it is real and we can gaze onto this very landscape every day we are here.

I think we're going to enjoy being in San Carlos de Bariloche. We have a lot to do to set up our (temporary) lives here but we can't wait to get out and explore.

Our Next Adventure

Bariloche, Buenos Aires, Uruguay MapUruguay has been our home for the past 16 months and we love it. Through the ups and downs of adjusting to life in a different culture, we have been truly fortunate to find ourselves in such a place. We are ready for a new adventure, most likely temporary but we don't know. All signs are pointing us toward San Carlos de Bariloche,  Argentina. We plan to be there for the low season of October through December. If you don't know Bariloche, it is a very different type of place from Montevideo. Located in the mountainous area of northern Patagonia, spring is the low season there with skiing being the main draw in winter and hiking/water sports in the summer.  Since we have never lived in the mountains but would like to, this area really appeals to us.  There are other towns nearby such as San Martín de los Andes and El Bolsón that we plan to explore and the variety of outdoor activities in this mountain/lakes region is incredible.

One challenge with our plan is how to live in a more rural area without a car.  The Bariloche area has a great bus system that runs a loop from downtown to the main roads, with other buses running long distances from Bariloche. While we explored living within the city proper, we were told in no uncertain terms that while the city has all the modern conveniences, the city is not why people come to live in Bariloche. Now we are researching temporary rentals on the main bus loop or within a decent walking distance to the city center.

Our flight is booked for September 25th, our current landlord is notified of our lease termination and we are starting the purging process all over again.  There is no turning back now!

Our list of things to sell will be coming shortly. It is amazing how much you can acquire even when you live in a furnished  rental and never really purchased much.  Alas, we have plenty of housewares, toys, clothes, books and cloth diaper supplies that we will be selling.  The plan is to come back to Montevideo during/after high season 2011 but we don't want to store all our extra stuff, so away it goes.

Wish us luck!  This extended vacation will hopefully be just the thing we're looking for.  New things to learn and explore within a beautiful, restorative environment.  You can't forget the great German architecture, handmade chocolates and artisan beers produced in the Bariloche region!  Sounds like my kind of place!!