Argentina, The First Week

View from hotel room in Salta soon after dawn.. Looking west

View from hotel room in Salta soon after dawn.. Looking west

It’s oh dark 30 in Salta in the north of Argentina. It has been four days since I left the Philippines. The jet lag is still killing me. And, it’s cold. I really don’t like the cold. It slows me down, and drains any ambition I might have. I spend my time trying to stay warm.

Flew up here last night from Buenos Aires. Later this morning, with my lawyer, we are submitting my papers for Argentinian residency. It’s really interesting for me, being actually on the ground here in Argentina. It’s been so long since I went somewhere new. Now here I am. The language is proving to be more difficult than I thought. My extensive study? Wasn’t extensive enough. However, in fairness to myself, had I NOT studied, it would be much worse.  And also, frankly, I don’t find Buenos Aires to be a very friendly place. Everybody seems in a hurry, kind of grim, and when I attempt my feeble Spanish with them, they don’t give any consideration for that whatsoever. If anything, they get more impatient. Well. It is what it is. In one sense, it just makes me more determined to learn Spanish. I will try, I think even as early as by next week, to start getting some one-on-one time with a teacher even if it’s only three or four hours a week.

I remember from many years ago, when I did an immersion course in French, in France, we were doing eight hours of language study a day, and it was absolutely exhausting. I don’t really want to do that again. Plus, although I am somewhat distant from the Asian operations, I still have obligations there that I need to fulfill.

The apartment I moved to, courtesy of my legal firm, is OK but doesn’t really suit me. And, it is COLD. And that is a real issue for me. There is another option about 2 blocks away. A B&B I think. With the benefit of hosts who can help me find my way around. I’m thinking seriously about that. For people who know about my PTSD issues with elevators – I thought the pictures of the elevator in the current apartment building would be amusing. But it runs really well. And the walls are open grill so if you get stuck you can still wave to people walking up the stairs. Just like old buildings in Europe. In fact, what I have seen of BA so far, it reminds me exactly of a (slightly run down) European city.

The other thing that I must mention, is, if one is trying to stay away from processed carbohydrates, (that is, everything that tastes really good, like chocolate croissants, cake, muffins, etc.) then Buenos Aires is a really bad place to be. Seems like you can’t walk a block without running into at least one or two really nice pastry stores of one sort or the other. The standard breakfast at my hotel the last three days was two extremely sweet croissants, 2 cups of Café con Leche, and some other type of bread with jam and butter. And when I looked around, that is more or less what everybody else was eating in that restaurant. Now I must say that last night, at the hotel up here in Salta, I ate something that was supposed to be a northern Patagonian specialty. It’s kind of like a Caesar salad with some salmon, cheese, and some seeds that I couldn’t identify. It was hands down the most delicious salad I have ever eaten in my life. If I could live on that, I would. But when I get back to Buenos Aires I’m really going to have to take a look at finding a good restaurant/restaurants where I can eat more or less the diet that I prefer to have. And I have to get back to the gym. I’ve worked out once in the last 10 days. And I hate it.

Breakfast buffet in Salta

Breakfast buffet in Salta

My priorities are finding a good laundry, a warm place to live, a good gym (although I can make do with turbulence training in my room if needed), and some good restaurants.

It is now a day later. My residency papers have all been submitted. My lawyer here did absolutely sterling work. I was very impressed. He was organized to a fault and the couple of hiccups that occurred (like a grumpy policeman balking at issuing a standard certification) were dealt with so swiftly, I almost didn’t notice there was an problem. And despite having to go three different places all over town, we started at 0830 and were pretty much done by 1400. The immigration office was an education. I was the only foreigner; the rest were poor immigrants from places like Bolivia and Paraguay coming to find work. I felt, well not exactly guilty, but uncomfortable as I stood there with my iPad and phone that probably cost more than most of them made in 6 months. The look of hopeless patience on their faces really got to me. I don’t have the answer, but I wish there was something I could do to help more people. And in truth, although not dreadfully efficient, the Argentinian immigration people really were patient and respectful towards the petitioners.

But afterwards, I crashed again. This incredible fatigue I feel is hard to describe. It is like my brain is wrapped in cotton wool soaked with cold honey. I can’t think, I can barely move. And all the standing about in lines didn’t do my back any good. Although a brief workout and sauna this morning certainly helped.

At dusk

At dusk

Salta is high desert [1300 meters]. Freezing at night and in the early morning, and hot in the afternoon. Reminds me how much I hated desert operations in the military. And very dry. But beautiful. It seems a nice town although a little rural for me. We have a late evening flight back to BA tonight so this is my first day for weeks with nothing to do on the immigration end. Only as I write do I realize what a relief that is. Of course, the residency permit isn’t guaranteed yet. By no means. And it will take about 2 months to know but initial indications are very hopeful, due entirely to the unflagging efforts of the lawyer I hired.

I have also really enjoyed my conversations with him. We have a surprisingly similar outlook on life and he is interesting to talk with.

I will sign off for now. I want to post this before we check out of the hotel. Just as well we are going back late. I hear there is some kind of demonstration on the docks in BA so the traffic will be terrible most of the day I think. 😊