The truth is, I never left you. Yes, I'm living in Montevideo, Uruguay now, but a part of my heart still remains in Mendoza on the finca.
Three years in Argentina enriched my life and taught me many things. I loved the bright, clear mornings filled with birdsong. I loved the view of the snow-capped Andes mountains on the horizon. I loved having my own fruit trees, vineyard and vegetable garden. I loved the sound of the water rushing down the canal. I loved the fresh strawberries, asparagus, cherries, melons and apples. I loved the wine and most of all, I loved harvest time.
I loved the warm, generous Argentine farm folk who did not hesitate to help us out when we needed assistance in managing the farm. And we often needed help, believe me. From the locals I learned that sticks and wire can be fashioned into a sturdy ladder. I learned that eating a meal is a social event, not just a chance to fill your stomach. I learned to make do, using the resources at hand. I learned to slow down and be mindful of the present moment. I learned to drink mate and take siesta on hot afternoons. I learned that poverty has many forms and isn't simply defined by a lack of money: there are more impoverished people living behind the walls of an upscale gated community in San Rafael than on the humble, traditional farms in Rama Caida.
I never got used to the garbage carelessly thrown into the canals and riverbeds, and the piles of trash burned in toxic fires. I never got used to the sick, stray, unneutered dogs that wander the streets of San Rafael in search of food. I never got used to the chaos of Argentine driving, and the dangerous practice of riding bicycles on the road at night without lights. I never got used to the noise level in the city. I never got used to the long line ups and the inefficiency of government offices. I never got used to bribery as a means of getting things done. There were many things that I just couldn't understand or accept.
Getting out of Argentina was not easy. First the bank informed us that a transfer of funds to an acount in Uruguay would require a deduction of 35% in the form of an exit tax. Can you imagine how nervous-making it was to carry the cash in my purse? On the day of our departure, we got to the airport early with our multiple fully-loaded suitcases only to be told by the Aerolineas Argentina official that the plane would not be taking any checked luggage. Our bags were sent by car to Mendoza city (a 3 hour drive) and then flown to Buenos Aires Aeroparque, arriving on the luggage belt in a vacant airport in the middle of the night. We stayed for one night in BsAs, retrieved our bags the next morning and flew, triumphant at last, over Rio de la Plata to our home in Montevideo.
Montevideo offers a new adventure, with new challenges. We are enjoying the cultural aspects of the city and the availability of goods and services that make daily life just a little bit easier. There are exciting opportunities to work on creative projects, form new friendships, and expand our language skills. Look for the launch of Eye on Uruguay coming soon. I'll be writing reviews of visual and performing arts events, making notes on historical and architectural highlights and recording my impressions of the city of Montevideo and other Uruguayan destinations.