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May 28, 2007

Living in Buenos Aires

Where do I start? Living in Buenos Aires has been keenly interesting. Staying put for as long as we have let us soak in the experiences. And soak we did...

Tango dancing, the famous Pacha nightclub, new friends, parrillas (BBQ) with neighbors on our terrace and theirs, all you can eat beef (man, can Argentinians eat red meat!) and wine (and how they love their Malbec), walks through the parks, mate sipping ceremonies, cooking classes (Jo has learned a few new tricks - mmmm! Ask her about her empenadas, foccacias and quiches!), futbol (soccer isn't soccer unless it's FUTBOOOOOOOOL!), theater, ice cream (world's best as far as I've known), cafes, street fairs, jazz festival (you have to check out the Cuban pianist Jesus "Chucho" Valdes), getting robbed, oh yes, robbed!

Now that's a story... Coming home one night, we found our front door open. Entering, the table top where sat my laptop... Well, it sat no longer. Neither did our camera, Internet phone, headset, our iPod nanos, our daypack, watch, Joanne's wallet, ballet tickets, the apartment's plasma tv and dvd, and so much more, all gone. We were left with our clothes, passports and camping gear. Stunned, shocked and for the first time in South America, frightened. Where once there was only trust in fellow man, the ugly reality that hit home that night was the same reality that had caused so many to erect ugly metal bars over every opening to their buildings.

A friend here holds that if Argentines spent as much energy on accomplishing something as they do trying to screw each other out of money they'd be the richest nation in the world. There is a lot of that going around. But it's not all bad. In fact, I'd still say this is one of the most fantastic cities and countries in the world. The harshness of the theft was strongly offset by the legendary Argentinian warmth, generosity and openness we felt in dozens of daily interactions. I'll share more on the impressions the society left on me in an upcoming post.

But back to our regularly scheduled drama... After some freaking out, we calmed down and the necessary optimism set in. We were ok. We still had an ATM card and passports. Everything we lost was just "stuff". Well, that's not entirely true...

We lost all the photos from Buenos Aires. I also lost all my work. I had been developing a new business direction for iTools that I'd been spinning on in my head during our travels. For a month in Buenos Aires, I developed a business plan, databases, a rather nice web application and a lot of notes and brainstorms. All of it was lost with the laptop.

But we were ok and it's just stuff. I keep telling myself that. But it still sucks.

We nonetheless decided not to let it sour our spirits and decided to put iTools aside and get out there and live. The lack of much more than the clothes on our backs certainly simplified our lives. It's amazing what else you do when there is no computer, no email, no tv, no music and just a big city to explore.

As we often do after hitting a milestone in our travels, we asked ourselves what we most wanted to do next. For both of us, it was a desire to see our families and friends again. And Darby. Well, Darby, and them :).

So at the end of the month, we leave South America, passing through San Diego for a few days before heading back to Montreal for the summer. Aaaah, summer in Montreal! We haven't had one in ten years. Comedy, jazz, film and fireworks festivals! Family BBQs (yay, more meat!), tamtams on Mount Royal and the busy street terraces beckoning us with freshly roasted coffee... We'll get to celebrate our 12 year anniversary in the city where our journey began.

Get ready, heeeeere we come!