It is my fifth week in Argentina. I finished my 20 hours of Spanish lessons this week. I’ve been studying about 2 to 3 hours a day when I can and it seems to have helped my vocabulary but my brain still refuses to serve up that vocabulary as and when I need. No problem though. That will come in time.
Something I am realizing though, is that I have become very reclusive. Or it may be more accurate to say that I have always been reclusive, but in Asia where I have a fair number of close friends that I can regularly associate with, it isn’t so obvious. Here, it is extremely so [obvious that is]. I do like going out, but with rare exceptions I can’t think of any place that I’ve been here where I’ve actually wanted to meet people and get engaged. There are several avenues open to me. A couple of local ex-pat groups, perhaps not the best way to get into Argentinian society but certainly one avenue. Conversation exchange or what is called Inter-Cambio, but I haven’t been able to get up the courage to actually message one of these people and try to execute on that. Part of that is paranoia about meeting anybody online, but another part of it is the idea of going out to meet people and speak with them just doesn’t enthuse me.
*A late addition - A quote from a Jerusha Jones book (Sight Shot) - "My language muscles have atrophied from living alone with only a dog to talk to and working in a mostly solitary environment." ; of course I don't have a dog, but the quote really hit home with me.
So, it was Valentine’s day this week, and I had a reservation at my favorite restaurant here. And I’m happy to confirm, being the recluse that I am, I was the only single person I noticed, not only in the restaurant, which garnered me some funny looks in any case, but also just walking around the area after dinner. But, honestly, did not feel at all lonely or anything. Valentine’s Day in Argentina is not the big deal that it seems to be in the Philippines. But I could tell there were still more traffic than usual for a Wednesday night. One thing about Argentina I have noticed, very much on contrast to Asia. Nobody has any hesitation about PDA (Public Displays of Affection) here. No inhibitions at all that I can see. That is kind of sweet. There seems to be a lot of couples that like clinching at pedestrian cross-walks. Not sure why that is.
I am, next week, going to do what is for me fairly unusual. I’m all locked in to go to St. Martin de los Andes. And that I think is going to be an interesting trip for me. I don’t know anybody there, and I’m going alone, and I think it will be a way of forcing me to speak Spanish, because although it is a tourist destination of sorts, it is not a tourist destination for foreigners I don’t believe.
This week I also sold bitcoin in Argentina and got cash for it. In some ways quite simple, but there was a lot of detail that had to be done in the execution. And, just for the sake of interest, I will outline it here.
I did the sale so the buyer transferred funds directly into my bank account but they do have sellers who will do cash. I didn’t want to attempt that route since I do happen to have a local bank account.
I sold through www.localbitcoin.com (which is how I bought my bitcoin in Asia).
1. I inserted my offline hardware wallet (That contains my BTC) into my laptop and transfer BTC from my wallet -> my localbitcoin account wallet online. This takes about 15 – 30 minutes to execute.
2. Choose a buyer (I usually look for someone with 1000+ transactions that has a 100% rating from clients)
3. I gave the buyer a photo copy of my DNI (Argentinian National ID) and my bank account information and request the transaction. At this point, the amount of BTC I am selling goes into escrow on the localbitcoin.com exchange.
4. The buyer – if my information is correct and he accepts the transaction, executes the bank transfer and sends me a photo of the confirmed bank transfer.
5. I wait for it to hit my account (in this case it took about 2 hours).
6. I release the BTC from escrow.
7. Done. Total actual effort on my part about 15 minutes. Fee – About US$ 8.
There were a number of complications but all from poor prior preparation on my part. The biggest one was I hadn’t thought through how to check if the money had arrived. I hadn’t set up online access to my bank yet and the closest (and only!!!!!) ATM within 500 meters closed about an hour into the procedure. They don’t have ATMs every 100 meters like they do in Thailand. And when the bank closed, they put down steel shutters and closed off access to the ATM as well 😊. I had to haul myself to a Starbucks with Wi-Fi close to my bank’s main branch (which did still allow access to it’s ATMs after 3PM).
**The bank employee unions are trying to go on strike here in Argentina because they are only getting a 9% raise or some similar nonsense (if I translated correctly). And they only seem to have customer hours from 1030 – 1500 anyway. Such a deal. Sorry – I think very little positive about unions in any way, shape or form.
And now (Monty Python fan alert) for something completely different …
I wanted to add here some quotes from some books that I read just recently, and some paraprosdokians. Hard to pronounce but amusing regardless. Worth sharing in my book.
From Lead Flying by Jerusha Jones in reference to journalists:
“They’re like pigeons. You feed them, and they’ll stick around, panhandling and pooping all over the place. Not good for business.” – I feel this can refer to politicos and priests just as well.
This is from the Tin Can Mysteries series. I happen to like the ‘cozy’ genre of murder mysteries and this fits the bill nicely with an intelligent female protagonist.
Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected and is frequently humorous. I winnowed the original list to take out the less amusing ones. My prerogative. 😊 And I ordered them to put the ones I appreciated the most at the top of the list.
• Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
• If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.
• War does not determine who is right, only who is left.
• To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
• Going to church doesn't make you a Christian, any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
• You're never too old to learn something stupid.
• Where there's a will, I want to be in it.
• I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
• The last thing I want to do is hurt you ... but it's still on my list
• We never really grow up -- we only learn how to act in public.
• I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.
• I'm supposed to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder for me to find one now.
And from a novel (Under the Sweetwater Rim) by Louis L’Amour – “The trouble is that most of us live in anticipation or in memory, never in the present moment. There must always be times like this when you just sit still and listen, feel, see. You live longer and live infinitely better.” – Good advice … now to work on actually doing it 😊
I’m trying to do this this morning. I’m sitting in a nice restaurant in Palermo Hollywood (9am and I’m the only customer here 😊), enjoying a nice morning with breakfast, writing for the blog, and generally trying to enjoy a beautiful sunny morning. Life is good. Huge breakfast for less than $US10.
One of my very close friends is in hospital recovering from a quadruple bypass. My thoughts and best wishes for you and your family. I’m sure you will make a speedy recovery and I look forward to being able to see you soon.