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.
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.
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.