Expat

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.) 

NEW Healthy Family Abroad Format

Ugh. Changing blog formats is never simple. The look, the layout, re-categorization of 6 years worth of posts. Here's the deal: We've changed the blog format to include three branches of information: Health, Family and living/moving working abroad information (thus our new name of HealthyFamilyAbroad!!) See the three tabs up above.

You'll be seeing a new blog design coming soon, utilizing these new categories to more easily search posts by interest.  There will be overlaps as many subjects can fit into more than one category.

Family will consist of posts on:

  • Time Together
  • Communication with Family at a Distance
  • Education: Local & Electronic Options
  • Trips "Home"
  • Holidays
  • Pregnancy & Birth
  • Kid Gear/Supplies
  • Language & adaptation
  • Minimalism
  • Travel
  • Packing How-To's

Health: 

  • Food/ Diet/Cooking
  • Meal Planning
  • Local food availability & cost
  • Medical Care & Insurance
  • Fitness
  • Diabetes Care
  • Homesickness
  • Work/Live Balance
  • Mental Health

Expat/Living Abroad: 

  • Technology
  • Visas
  • Residency
  • Citizenship
  • Anchor Baby
  • Rentals
  • Transportation
  • Location Independence
  • Lifestyle Design
  • Money Exchange

Thanks for all your interest. We are very excited to roll out the new blog format and focus! Remember to comment on our posts and like us on Facebook!

Happy Travels,

Lisa signature
Lisa signature

Pros and Cons of Uruguay

Uruguay list graphic by Lisa
Uruguay list graphic by Lisa

We get a lot of questions about Uruguay. Fair enough- we lived there for 18 months and wrote a lot about it while there. We've been in Argentina now for two years and to tell you the truth, we much prefer Argentina. There is no perfect place and not everyone will agree with the following, but here's our take on Uruguay.

CONS:

  • Uruguay Is Not Cheap. Maybe it was 5+ years ago and maybe it is for those coming from New York or LA, but prices in Uruguay, from housing, to electricity, to personal and kids items, were astonishingly high- even when we got there in March 2009.
  • Humid & Rainy. Much more than I ever thought, Montevideo weather was brutal. Its coastal location means hot and humid in the summers and damp, dreary winters.  Those damp winters created indoor mold and bone-chilling cold.
  • Everyone Was Sick. Expats seem to be sick more often the first year as they are exposed to different 'bugs'. In Montevideo, it seemed like everyone was sick, all the time. Maybe it was the climate, the indoor mold potential and/or the fact that everyone shares mate (pronounced mah-tay, it is a traditional tea-drink that is shared in social settings). People always seemed sick with one cold or another.
  • Residency Process Is Not Fast. We have friends who just got their UY residency after 2.5 years of paperwork and waiting. This used to be a much faster process (6-9 months) but we gave up waiting for ours after a year. The exception to this still seems to be with the purchase of property in UY, you can get residency much faster.
  • Friendly But Not Welcoming. We met lots of nice locals, but those people were not as welcoming into their homes and social circles like we have found in Argentina.
  • Hi-rise Jungle.  Particularly Pocitos and surrounding areas are losing much of the gorgeous traditional Architecture to make way for more high-rise apartment/condo buildings. This is really a shame and I remember crying over at least one demolition of a beautiful home that was tucked between highrises surrounding a park.
  • Goods & Materials. There were many Uruguay-made items, and imports from Brazil were prevalent, but if you are really interested in the same items that you are used to in the USA (or other country) you may be hard pressed to find them. The larger upscale grocery stores had import food items but there were not many.

URUGUAY PROS:

  • Strong Expat Community. Depending on your perspective, this could be either a pro or con. When we were there, it was a definite pro. We made some incredible friends who are now at all corners of the globe. They helped ease our transition and for that we will be forever grateful.
  • Easy To Get Around. We walked, took public transportation and the occasional taxi all through the city and surrounding areas. We took the bus to Piriapolis and to Colonia. Once we rented a car, but transportation was easy without a car of our own.
  • Ferias. Oh, the wonderful ferias, how we miss them! Montevideo had the best open-air markets that set up in the neighborhoods on select mornings. Our neighborhood had a feria on Sunday mornings where we bought all of our fruits, veggies, eggs, cheese and the occasional fish or cleaning products. There is a little of everything. It was amazing!
  • Governmental Stability. Uruguay is known to be a stable government and the current president, Pepe Mujica is a breath of fresh air. Even if you don't like his policy, you have to agree that he is a president like no other.
  • Green Energy Initiatives. Uruguay is making huge strides to add wind energy as a source for electricity. To read more, see this recent article.
  • The Best Daycare/Jardin. We still rank Caminito as the best daycare/jardin experience that we have found. Hands down. It was perfect for us and it was completely worth the 20 minute walk each way from our house in Pocitos. I wish we could find something as good in Cordoba for our second daughter.
  • Grass-Fed Beef. Uruguay and Argentina compete for which country consumes the most beef per capita. In Uruguay, the majority of the beef is grass-fed and it is not all allocated for export, like it is in Argentina. You can see fields of grazing cows if you drive east towards the coast from Montevideo.
  • The East Coast. Upon visiting, I fell in love with the wild coastal villages of Punta del Diablo and Cabo Polonio. Both very different, they were fascinating, lovely and a complete, welcome change from life in the city. I can't wait to go back for a longer visit.

So, those are a few of the pros and cons from our perspective- in no particular order. Montevideo was an excellent jumping off point for us and we liked many aspects of it but as a place to live, we have been much happier with Cordoba Argentina, which has exceeded our expectations in nearly every way. More on that in our next post, the pros and cons of Argentina. We'll see how they stack up!

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!

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!!

One Year Ago Today

We arrived in Montevideo on March 26, 2009. What a year!! We've had the opportunity to explore so many corners of this great city.  We've learned more Spanish and met lots of wonderful people- both Uruguayos and extranjeros.  As many Uruguayos don't seem to understand, we like it here.  We have chosen to come here.  It was not a mandated move due to work or education, we chose Uruguay as our home and we really love this little country.

We've grown as a family over this past year and while we don't have a baby on our hands anymore, she has grown into a very capable toddler. We still adore Jardín Caminito, our daycare, and how loving and supportive they have been for us.

The lease in our current house has been extended for another few months (was set to expire on April 20th).  So it is another winter in our cute but drafty home!  This time we won't be so thrifty (jaja!) and we'll be using our grocery store loyalty points to get a space heater.  This is a supplement the fireplace and bedroom electric units.

Come spring, who knows what we will do.  It'll be a perfect time to travel a bit without the expense of an empty house. Maybe an extended stay travel with 3-6 months somewhere?  Maybe Bariloche, Argentina?  The world is our oyster and we are going to treasure every moment here!!

Artwork by Uruguayo Joaquin Torres-Garcia; Upside Down Map (1943).  Uruguay is located at the coordinates, near the top line.

Living Abroad Makes You More Creative?

Here's an interesting video discussing how those living abroad tend to be more creative- possibly tied to language skills and adaptation. Interesting studies!

"People who live abroad are more creative; and the more time they spend away from home, the more creative they become. Thats according to a recent study done by William Maddux, an assistant professor of organisational behavior at INSEAD."

Remate- The Craigslist of Uruguay

Except in Uruguay, it is a physical location and not an online 'for sale' ad. You can find any assortment of thing for sale at these remates (or auction houses). There are everything from antiques, to rugs, small appliances, farm equipment, architectural salvage and even cars.  Yes, you can even buy 'normal' furniture and housewares, which is a great resource for an expat trying to set up a household here.

One of the best remates that I know of is Castells. I've been told this remate is most often frequented by Uruguayos, and as such, is not as expensive as some of the extranjero remates.

Castells is located at Galicia 1069.  It's about a 10 minute cab ride from  the Pocitos/Punta Carretas area. The main furniture sale is every Tuesday at 2 PM. When I've been there, this sale has been very informal and in a large back room. The front main auction room is full of antiques and fine art pieces, with everyone sitting down and was what you'd envision of a "civilized" auction. The back room was with everyone standing, crowded around a given piece of furniture and the auctioneer on a small podium. You can visit early on Tuesday or on any other day to see the sale items ahead of time. Occasionally the rooms for the separate sales are reversed, so keep your eyes open.

There are other rooms as well, one upstairs and another in a garage area, full of items that sell on different days. Some is household goods and small appliances (upstairs) and outside has everything from architectural artifacts, to farm equipment to cars and all sorts of random junk.

There are no numbers or paddles for bidding, you just raise your hand. If you are the highest bidder, someone will come over to you and take your information and a deposit on the piece (30% of the sale price).  You get a receipt and can pay the balance and pick up your purchase the same day or within 24 hours.

A few notes before you hit the remate:

  • The auctioneer shortens all his numbers for speed so the current bid may come out as "ochen" instead of "ochenta".  Be aware- especially if your not so fluent in Spanish yet.
  • The upholstered pieces can occasionally be of questionable quality and I have heard stories of items having bugs. Check out a piece carefully before bidding/buying. You wouldn't want to get it into your house and find out that you have 10,000 new friends.
  • There are taxes added to the final sale price, to be paid when you pick up your purchase.  This is  a total of 16.5% unless otherwise specified.

Even if you're not in the market for new stuff, the remates are a great place to go and experience a part of Uruguayan culture. Have fun!

Expat Network

We're so happy to have a strong Expat community in Uruguay to make our transition to life here easier. We have every intention of integrating into local culture here but in our months starting out, it is a great resource to have friends who speak your native language and have been through the same things that you are going through.

Through our network of fellow Expats, we're received referrals for all of the people who work for us, as well as many of the services and resources we use on a daily basis. Our realtor, housekeeper, babysitter, Spanish tutor and daycare are all Uruguayos to whom we were connected  by other Expat families living here.

Look at this naan!!

Our social events are a little heavy on the Expat side right now, but have a mix of Uruguayo and both native-Spanish and native-English Speaking Expat families attending.  We attended a beautiful Asado at a friends home last weekend and had a wonderful time speaking to an older Uruguayo gentleman for most of the evening. Yesterday we were at the home of a Re-pat (an Uruguaya who returned to Uruguay after many years in the United States) to share an outstanding Indian dinner. There were 10 couples attending with more food and drink than you could imagine and we all had s great time. Brad and I were so excited to be a part of the evenings festivities, partially due to the lack of Indian food since we've been here, but more so the opportunity to get out together and learn about a variety of people- including (but not limited to) Re-pats, Brazilian, Argentine and native-English speaking Expats from Canada, the USA and New Zealand in yesterday's group.

Thanks to all of our network here in Uruguay that has helped us in this transition. Hope that we can do the same for all of you who may be interested in this great country.

Yoga in Montevideo

There are many Yoga centers in Montevideo, Uruguay.  In fact, there are three yoga centers that I know of within a few blocks of our home in Pocitos. Since my Spanish is not great yet, I felt intimidated just walking into one of those locations and taking a class... I found the perfect solution: Yoga in English with instructor Charla Cooper.

Charla teaches an excellent yoga class that I have been attending for the past 6 weeks. The class is small so you can get a lot of individual attention, the location is great, and it is a fabulous mix of yoga styles with Kundalini, Ashtanga and Iyengar. I had never practiced Kundalini yoga before this class and while it took a little getting used to, now it's a part of class that I really love.

Cost is UY$ 150 per class or UY$ 1000 for a month pass.

Please see the Yoga in English website for more details and any updated class information. You can also email ccooper495@gmail.com for more specific questions. Hope you can join us!

Email Us With Questions!

We have had a great response to our blog and receive email frequently from people who are interested in moving to Uruguay and are looking for more information. I've been corresponding with a woman from the United States who was looking for info about a possible move here with two kids. I wanted to include a few excerpts from our email conversation regarding the most expat-friendly neighborhoods and costs of goods/services in Uruguay.

Thanks for the note! To address your questions about the Pocitos, Punta Gorda and Carrasco neighborhoods:

We love the Pocitos/Punta Carretas areas. They are considered higher end, safe and very expat friendly areas that are still close to downtown. We live on the border between the two "barrios" listed previously and are within walking distance to just about every service and store that we could want. Cabs and public transportation are excellent, so we have no problems in this area without a car. There are a lot of high rises in this area and nearly all the buildings are attached to each other. While we know of a few people with small yards here, it does not seem to be common. Our house does not have a yard. Instead, we have a small front garden and a back patio.

Carrasco is gorgeous, with big houses and large yards that feel more like any United States suburb. You would definitely need a car in Carrasco it is around a 15-20 minute drive from where we are living (on a good day with no traffic). Punta Gorda is one barrio/neighborhood closer to downtown Montevideo than Carrasco and from what I hear, it has a similar feel to Carrasco.

If you click on Google Map Montevideo, you will see the names of the different neighborhoods (you may have to zoom in) and you can get some perspective to their relationship to one another. The little pin on the map is between Punta Gorda and Carrasco. If you follow the coast to the left you will find Pocitos and next to it at the point near the bottom of the screen, Punta Carretas.

To address your question regarding items that are less or more expensive than the US: Cars and gasoline here are very expensive, as is most technology including computers and home electronics. Kids/baby stuff here is also extremely expensive (2-3x more than what you'd pay in the US). I just looked for a potty seat for my daughter at a local shop and the only decent one I found was a Safety 1st model that is $50 here but only $23 on Amazon.com. On the flip side, food, most services, child care and medical are all much cheaper than what we experienced in the US.

The lifestyle is definitely different in Uruguay. We love it but we also know people here who are having problems adjusting. They expected it to be more like the US or Europe, I guess. With such a small market in Uruguay, many consumer goods are not the quality that you'd get in the US and the imports are insanely expensive due to all the import and sales taxes. Plan trips to Buenos Aires or the US to get anything you can't find here. While you technically could ship anything here, there is a very hefty price tag attached!

Good luck with your decision and feel free to email with any more questions- Lisa

If you have any specific questions and would like to email us directly, please use the 'Contact' link at the top right of the site, or feel free to leave a comment on this or any of our posts. Thanks!

Get Your own Toll Free Number

Renewing our Temporary Visitor Permits

Uruguay Coat of ArmsThe time had come to renew our temporary visitor's permits for Uruguay.  Some people call these a visitor's visa, but they are not technically visas. Uruguay gives you 90 days and then you have to leave the country and re-enter to extend your permit. We knew about this and were planning a weekend trip to Buenos Aires with the extension in mind. We didn't want to go to Buenos Aires quite yet and had heard a mention of extending your permit for the first time at the Uruguayan immigration office in the Ciudad Vieja barrio of Montevideo. We looked at the forums for information about this and found very little. Well, it was either the immigration office or an impromptu trip to BsAs for the weekend, so we thought we'd try here in Montevideo first.

The Dirección Nacional de Migración office is located at Misiones 1513, esq. 25 de Mayo in Ciudad Vieja. When you walk in, take a number which is on a large column and wait in the main area. Even though the place was packed with people, the numbers flew by. Pay attention as it is not posted anywhere what number they are on.

Our number was called, we went up to one of the desks, sat down and told the clerk that we need "Prorroga de permanencia temporaria" (temporary extension of stay). After they typed our information into the computer, out came official looking forms with our names/passport numbers, etc.  We brought the forms to the caja (register), paid UY$356 each (about US$15), then took our papers and passports to a third desk where we received stamps all over the sheets (but strangely not in our passports) which will extend our stay for another 90 days.  All done in about a half an hour. I bet immigration in the USA isn't nearly this easy!

If you're late in renewing your temporary status here, don't fret.  You won't be kicked out of the country but you will pay a fine.  According to the Dirección Nacional de Migración website price list, it looks like the extension of an expired stamp is only US$8 more than the valid extension.

You can make this trip to the Immigration office every other time you need to extend your visitor's status here in Uruguay. The original stamp in your passport is good for 90 days. At the end of 90 days, go to the immigration office as described previously. At the end of the next 90 day period, you MUST exit and re-enter the country to renew your temporary status in Uruguay.

The visit to the immigration office is a great alternative to those who do not want to travel often, cannot afford it or simply don't have the time to travel when they need to renew their visitor status. Compared to other governmental services here, we found this process to be quick, inexpensive and efficient.

Why Uruguay?

While planning the move and telling everyone about it, the first question, as the blog name suggests was "You're moving WHERE??!?!?", which was quickly followed by "Why Uruguay?" For us, this answer was clear after a long list of considerations.  We wanted:

  • High standard of living
  • Relatively low cost of living
  • Similar time zone to the USA
  • Spanish speaking
  • Safety
  • Cultural opportunities/experiences
  • Good infrastructure
  • Good health care system
  • Stable government
  • Positive attitude towards foreigners

That list rules out our favorite place

What We've Been Doing

We've been slacking on the blog.  Sorry. But our social calendars have been getting a workout!  Between Brad going to a Futbol (soccer) match on Thursday between Argentina and Uruguay, me being being double booked for Friday lunch, emailing with another expat about upcoming yoga classes, entertaining at our house on Friday night, and going to the Rummage sale at the American School today (we had 3 expats offer to give us a ride), we've kept busy.

17 month birthday

It was also Geneva's 17 month birthday this past week, which we always celebrate with a sign and lots of photos.

I've also been doing tons of laundry since we have a few nice days again after three days of rain, I'm cooking a lot and just today started baking and crocheting a new project.  I am a domestic goddess after all!  Well, maybe not.  Read on:

We also interviewed a lady to come in and clean the house 2x per week.  She came very highly recommended by an expat we know and we met with Alejandra on Thursday.  She'll come on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for 80 pesos  ($3.33) an hour plus bus fare.  We do also pay taxes into the UY equivalent of the social security system as her employer.  Alejandra would also do some cooking and laundry, which we said we wouldn't need that at this point. She will also help us get set up with any of the equipment/cleaning supplies that we need.  We'll try it with Alejandra for a few weeks and see how it goes.

An update to other items:

We have yet another lead for a possible daycare.  Caminito still may work out in a couple of weeks, but we don't know for sure and want to keep the search going just in case.

We still have a water issue that is going to be dealt with this week.  The plumber has been here several times and installed a new kitchen faucet, toilet mechanism, and adjusted/repaired the temperature control on the water heater and we still have 2-3 liters of water on the bathroom floor every morning if we don't shut the water off every night. Jorge has been a huge advocate of ours and has been the one dealing with the landlord on this issue. I would rather they just break into the wall to see what's going on and get it done with.

Other than that, we're getting into a routine. Weather is turning colder and the heat is on in the bedrooms at night. That is the only heat that we have in the house and the other rooms are chilly.  No wonder I'm cooking more, at least then the kitchen is toasty warm.

Tomorrow we'll probably go to the Expat lunch at Old Maz which happens every Sunday but we also have tentative plans for afternoon/evening for Brad to help a family with some technology/internet issues.  The girls can play and we'll work for food and wine!

We've met lots of wonderful, interesting people so far and really value the information we've gleaned and the friends we've already made .

Expat Travel Technology: An Introduction

Get Your own Toll Free Number

There are many challenges in moving abroad.  One is technology.  What do I bring? How will it work?  Will it work at all?  Do they sell that in Timbuktu? If yes, do I have to give up my first born to get it?  The answer to that last one is...maybe.  Technology abroad--for the most part--is expensive.  

expat-technology-helpTech--as it's always been--is a blessing and a curse.  There are an incredible number of options, but at least we have options.  I give Lisa's mom a hard time for coming over on "the boat" in the '50s from the Netherlands.  They actually flew with several stops, including one in Greenland. Either way, it was no picnic.  So even if my computer crashes or my VOIP goes down...I did not have to come over on "the boat".  Again, options. We can communicate locally and internationally even if that means I have to walk down to the nearest restaurant or McDonalds with WiFi (wireless internet) if my Internet crashes.  WiFi is even available in the parks here in UY and some buses  I'll have to try that albeit discreetly --if that's possible-- as I don't want my computer to be relieved from my possession.  You can even sit down at the McCafe and have a "meeting" across the table via webcam.  So you can continue those Starbucks-style meetings if you like.

One challenge involves staying in contact with your "home" country.  For some this may not be an issue if they are severing ties to the homeland.  In our case, we need to work with clients in the United States to allow us to maintain our expat lifestlye and keep up with family.  Thankfully it has never been easier to maintain this connection as an expat.   Even three or four years ago this transition was far harder than it is today.

There are many issues to consider: receiving postal /snail mail, personal and business phone, computer hardware, backing up your computer, power supplies, what technology to bring, watching your favorite TV shows from home, hiring developers or independant contractors. Fortunately there is a tool, a download, a website, or a physically piece of equipment that can address all of these issues. Even if you're a baby boomer retiring abroad and technology is not your best friend, there are still many tools that are worth the small investment.  I will provide information on several of the travel technology tools that I use everyday in Montevideo... many of these we were using well before the move because they're just great services. The technology we use untethers us from a physical location and thereby is perfect for a traveler on the go or an expat...well...that's flat out gone. 

I'm sensitive to you Mac folks...I have not yet joined your ranks, but most of these tools play nice with Mac...probably better.  

I will also talk about some of the challenges of limiting the interuption to my business while navigating the set up process in a foreign country.  There have been pleasant surprises and of course headaches.  I will share it all here.  I may not be able to wait until Monday...there's so much good stuff!!!

A Day with Friends

Today turned out to be a pretty terrific Sunday. It actually started on Saturday evening when we were invited to a Sunday morning excursion to the park by someone we met here last year (all names are removed- try to keep up!). With his wife away for the weekend and two young daughters at home, a crisp fall morning at the park would do everyone good. Brad, Geneva and I had a nice breakfast at the hotel (although after 3 weeks here, it is getting a little boring) and then received the call at about 10:30 AM that they were headed to the park shortly. We packed and walked the 10 blocks to Parque Biarritz where there is a large play area. On such a great morning, it was packed. After about a half an hour there with a very clingy Geneva, it was time to move on. Before we left though, there was an invitation to stop by their house later this afternoon to socialize some more. Thanks, we just may do that!

Out next appointment at noon was meeting some visitors from MN. We had met a couple before leaving MN who are planning to purchase retirement property in Uruguay withing the next couple of years. It is a funny, random connection. The husband works with my cousin's husband and really, how many people from MN are planning on moving to Uruguay? Well, at least a few of us and we were introduced. We met once for lunch in MN and have corresponded back and forth to plan a meeting while they are visiting Uruguay. Today was the day and it was great to see some familiar faces from home! I think we were a welcome sight for them as well because their first 24 hours in UY had been rough with missing luggage, a noisy hotel room leading to a sleepless night, etc. We talked and commiserated at Old Maz restaurant for a while before we were joined by many others there for the 1:00 Expat meetup.

Sunday at 1 PM there is a meeting of english speaking Expats at the Old Maz restaurant in the Pocitos neighborhood of Montevideo . They've been meeting every Sunday for three years, rain or shine, holiday or not (we were there on Easter Sunday). There are tourists, people investigating Uruguay for a future move, and those of us who are committed and are going to be here for a while. There is no formal meeting, it is just a group that gathers to socialize, share experiences and learn from each other. Today was absolutely packed! We stayed for a little while but with a baby that was growing more and more tired, we left at about 1:45.

Skip ahead through a late lunch, drama with a sleepy Geneva bumping her head and a long nap for all of us.... and 5 PM rolls around. We head out to see if the invitation to come by still sticks. It does and we apparently have perfect timing. Two little girls sit at the table, the older one who is 5 and is totally bilingual is doing homework (spelling and cursive) an in both languages. Let me say that again... 5 year old.... homework... both languages. I was stunned at the skill of this intelligent little girl. Very fun to watch. We all played and were invited for an impromptu meal. Wine was brought out, we talked, the girls played, the meal was amazing. It was really great to have a home cooked meal. It feels like it's been so long! There are only a few people we know who can deliver such an incredible, non-scripted dinner and evening of entertainment. It was really a nice time. While we were there, the Mom of the family came home and joined us for dinner, and we made our exit not too long after, as all the girls needed to get to bed.

A long, busy, very fun day with friends. What a good day.

NOTE: I'm learning that I am really bad at planning photos for my posts. Sorry for the wordiness and nothing to look at. I can't believe that a visual person like myself can't seem to remember the to grab the camera. If I could only hook you up to my brain...no wait. Dangerous!