Don't Cry for Me, Argentina!
Country three (and month three) coming to a close feels really significant. We are a quarter of the way through the trip and are nearly done with South America. I wrote my first retrospective (Ecuador) like it was a letter from camp. At that time, the trip sort of felt like camp, or a vacation. We were going to the most amazing places and constantly staying at AirBnB’s. Now on month three, the trip feels different. We are better at many things and used to even more things. We know how to travel and how to maximize short periods of time. We can unpack and nest in a new AirBnB within minutes (and pack up in the same amount of time). We are learning how to get connected to a city quickly and to say goodbye just as fast. We are starting to really grasp that even 4 months in South America will barely scratch the surface. Reflecting on that, it makes me realize that Argentina sums this up better than any other country (so far).
Due to some family celebrations and work obligations (and quite a few signs from the universe), we decided to go back to the States for a few weeks in October. It didn’t end up being cost effective to return to South America for November and part of December. So, we added in Eastern Europe to fill the gap. We had to skip over major swaths of Argentina to fit everything in. In case you don’t look at a map often, Argentina is massive. From Patagonia we headed to Buenos Aires (effectively skipping the vast majority of the middle of the country). To me though, Buenos Aires really set the tone for us. On the first or second day in town, a couple local guys reached out to us with some “must do” things in Buenos Aires. They talked about the obvious things on the tops of every list, steak and tango-ing. But, the surprising common thread was a party called Fiesta Plop that was happening that coming Friday. The catch, it started at 3 AM. For those that know Ben and I well, we don’t really do 3 AM. We are more happy hour drinkers in a divey Austin bar than club kids. But, when in Buenos Aires, do as Buenos Aires does? (I forgot to mention it was a Mama Mia! themed stage performance/dance party. So, it made it a lot easier to convince ourselves that 3 AM wasn’t that bad.)
We planned it out and bought tickets ahead of time (to make sure we didn’t back out). We took naps right after work and then went out for drinks and dinner around 12:30 PM that night. Around 2:30, we arrived at Fiesta Plop. One of the local guys showed up and proceeded to show us around. He was the best. He was our guide and Buenos Aires expert for the whole week and was a quick message away for anything (like when we wanted to try to watch polo last minute on a Sunday—we couldn’t, but he looked into it for us). Anyways, 3 AM became 4 AM. And then 4 AM became 7 AM. We made friends from all over, we danced our way into our record-breaking step count, and we made it home just after sun-up munching on medialunas (Argentinian croissants) before drawing all of our shades and collapsing onto the bed for an early morning sleep
That night of saying “yes” and pushing through discomfort to embrace opportunities led us to keep milking Argentina for all it’s worth. We almost went to a sports event (go sports!!). We squeezed in a 3 day trip, without a weekend, to JuJuy (allowing us to be the only ones stargazing on Salinas Grandes for hours) and spent a quick weekend in Iguazu Falls (where we hiked every available path in the national park).
Argentina may not be the country where we saw the most cities. It definitely isn’t the country where we spent the most time. But, we found our groove here (pun definitely intended). I can’t wait to enjoy the rest of our time in South America — and the rest of the world.