Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Apartment Video Tour

Everyone keeps asking for photos of my apartment, but I thought a video tour would be better. Unfortunately I had to compress the shit out of it so it's pretty low quality but it works. Enjoy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The arrival!

I didn't know if I was going to start a blog or not but I am finding that people are more interested in my life than I previously thought. So, because I don't want anyone to feel like I am leaving out all the good details when they ask me how I am doing, I will keep this blog.

I have been in Buenos Aires for 5 days now. Getting here was not easy. On Tuesday June 22nd I woke up at 3am so I could be out of the house by 3:30. My mom took me to the airport and we found American Airlines had quite a line for check in. We waited awhile and when we got up the the lady at the counter was very annoyed that I had to check my dog. I had made a reservation to do so, but she still seemed to be trying to convince me to leave him behind with my mom. She was sure it would be too hot in Miami for him to be allowed on the plane. In the end, of course, Padfoot was checked.

My mom bawled and I made her leave without watching me go through security. She gave me my "Love You Forever" book. She gave it to me when I was 10 with a long note written on the front cover. She said she had written in the back this time. I was teary eyed and refused to read it, because I knew I had a long way to go and I didn't need to start crying just yet.

The flight to Miami was fine. I sat next to a lady who loved dogs and Jesus and promised to say a prayer to St. Francis for Padfoot and I at 9pm when I our flight was scheduled to take off. In Miami I rushed to get Padfoot and he was fine! I got to take him out on a leash and he seemed totally fine walking next to me and my giant luggage cart. I made it to a food court where I watched the rest of the Mexico v. Uruguay game. I was sad Mexico lost.

Right after the game I got a scary phone call from the apartment agency in Buenos Aires. I had wired them $1640.00 so that I could move into my apartment right away. They said when they went to pick it up they were told my credit card had been declined. I told them that was impossible because I had paid in cash. I ended up having to call Western Union, the rep told me the money had been sent to Australia instead of Argentina. She insisted she could not fix that. I argued and suddenly she could fix it but it would cost me more money. I told her I was not paying more for their mistake and got a supervisor. I argued with him for while, he kept telling me I had to go back to the agent that did the transfer but in the end, I won, and the money was sent to the correct place.

After that ordeal I paid $8 to use WIFI, which is a total rip off but I needed to contact the apartment agency. I talked to Abby and started to get sad. Once again though, I told myself it was too early to get sad so I packed up my laptop and headed back to the food court to watch the Argentina game. It was fun because there was a woman from Argentina in the food court too so we both screamed at the first goal. It was a great game!

I walked Padfoot around the airport and to the animal relief area every so often. I was really impressed with how calm he was. However, he did bark at his own reflection, twice.

My flight left at 9pm, the American Airlines employee told me to check Padfoot at least an hour and a half ahead of time. I wanted to be extra safe so I went to check him at 6:30. My flight to BA was on LAN which is a Spanish speaking airline. When I brought Padfoot up the guy at the counter had me put him on the scale and then he told me the kennel looked too small. He said the dog had to be able to turn around completely. I insisted that Padfoot could but he wouldn't believe me. He proceeded to bring out several other employees to see what they thought. All of them just stared at it and said they weren't sure. They also asked if I had given him a tranquilizer and I said no because airlines and vets recommend that when pets are checked baggage they NOT be sedated so they can adjust when the plane moves. They looked at me like I was out of my mind. After several people had come and stared at the kennel it was looking like they were not going to allow him on the plane. I had held back all day but at this point, I was too tired and upset and I started crying. Not bawling, just a few tears but the guy at the counter kept saying "no llores no llores!" I explained to him (in Spanish) that I was moving to Buenos Aires and I wasn't even from Miami so how was I supposed to stop crying if they were going to make me leave my dog in Miami. Finally they brought one more person out and she had me take Padfoot out of the kennel and put him back in. When I did this, he turned around completely and she said "he turned around, what's the problem?" All that, for nothing. After that I was sent to a different floor to pay for the checked baggage and then had to come back up to actually check him. At this point they also seized one of my carry on bags saying it weighed too much. Luckily they didn't charge me for it. Of course, because of all this trouble I was horribly late and I arrived at my gate about 15 minutes before boarding. I called my mom as I promised I would and I couldn't help it, I cried. I cried because I was all flustered and I cried because I knew the next time I got that flustered there would be no one around to help me. I boarded the plane in tears and felt like an idiot. Two flight attendants asked me if I felt okay.

The flight was long, but I slept on and off and watched a movie. I got to the airport and rushed to the baggage area to ask where I would pick up my dog. They informed me he would be on the baggage carrel with all the other luggage. WTF! So I ran to the front of the line so I could grab him. I had to get a huge cart to carry my 3 suitcases and his kennel. He wasn't allowed out on his leash in this airport.

Once I got through customs and everything I didn't know what time it was and I was supposed to have a tax at 8:15. I asked a random man and of course, in true Argentina style, he had to talk to me for a bit and then gave me his card and told me to call him if I needed anything. I had planned on throwing it away but then I noticed it said River Plate on it. River Plate is the Buenos Aires soccer team. I asked him if "needing anything" included tickets. We talked and he said some of the guys he works with want to learn English so I told him I'd email him and maybe we could set something up. I emailed him already but I haven't heard back. Curses. I want futbol tickets!

My taxi came and it took about an hour to get to my apartment. I was falling asleep in the cab. Keep in mind I woke up at 3am on the 22nd. It was now 9:30am on the 23rd. I got to the apartment and they had all these papers for me to sign and my landlady was there to show me around. At this point I am so sleep deprived that everything has the potential to upset me. She showed me around and my apartment is typical argentina ghetto, everything is a couple decades behind. I have to light my heater with a match. When she shows me this I start feeling really homesick. She leaves around 10:30 and I immediately pull out the "Love You Forever" book my mom sent with me. I read the short novel she has written and of course, start bawling. I try to set up my computer and manage to get skype working so I can call my mom and tell her I made it okay. Of course, this was a terrible time to call because I was so tired and worked up over stupid little things. My mom started crying because I was crying, it was a mess.

I will be honest, it was at this point that I felt the worst. All of a sudden I realized how huge this move was. I was completely freaked out and I wanted to see someone but knew that everyone I am close to was at least 8,000 miles away. It was horrible. Luckily I fell asleep quickly and woke up to a phone call from my only friend in Buenos Aires, Jorge. He was checking in on me to make sure I made it okay and said he would see me that weekend. It really helped to know someone was here for me.

The rest of the day was hard but I realized the sleep deprivation really played into how horrible everything seemed. My apartment is not a shithole, I am not totally lost here, I can still talk to people from home. Being sleepy made me dramatic haha. I explored the area around my apartment, bought some groceries and talked to Abby and Rachel, all things that helped me quite a bit. Later in the day I got another phone call, this time from Chloe, a girl from England and another Au Pair. We made plans to meet up the next night and eventually meet up with a few other Au Pairs.

So, on Thursday I unpacked and explored then met up with the girls. I met Chloe (England), Jenny (Ireland), Rosie (Canada) and Danielle (US). We had drinks and it was really awesome to just hang out, especially with girls who had been through the same rough transition.

On Friday I hung out with Jorge and a few of his friends from work. This is when I first got to really use my Spanish and it was great. I had met one of the guys before, Galo, but we had spoken all English because not everyone in that group spoke Spanish. Galo complimented me on my Spanish and I didn't have trouble keeping up with the fast paced conversation at all. It was a good time. PLUS at 2am Mattias said he wanted ice cream and I discovered that in Buenos Aires you can get ice cream DELIVERED! At 2am! This is my kind of city, clearly.

Saturday was busy. I met up with my potential family. There are 3 kids, 10, 12, and 15, the youngest is the only girl, just like in my real family. The mom really liked me and was impressed with my qualifications but she is still deciding if she is okay with me not living there. They really want me to move in and even said I could bring Padfoot. I tried to consider it but once I saw my room and took the long bus ride back into the city I realized I feel much more comfortable having my own place in the heart of the city. I'm supposed to go meet the dad at his work (which is somewhat near me) on Thursday. If everything goes well I can start next week so wish me luck!

The buses ran really slow on Saturday so I was really late getting back to the city. I had to watch the US game in my apartment and I missed the first Ghana goal. I was pretty disappointed the US lost. Jenny came over for most of it and we just hung out. I got a call from Danielle and she said they had a couple who needed a last minute babysitter so I babysat from 7pm-1am. It was not bad at all. The kids were cute, it was a rich family from the US. They took my number and said they'd call me again, I hope they do!

Yesterday was the big game! I also navigated the subway on my own, even did a train transfer. Be impressed! I met up with Jorge at a hostel I stayed at last time because his friend owns it and lets us hang out there. The game was awesome, I was so pumped. Jorge found it hilarious that I was easily the most excited person there, decked out in my jersey and scarf. He took some photos of me while I was nervously watching. I missed Rachel and Ellen so much during the game! They should have been there. After the game we went into the streets and celebrated a bit before we got empanadas and headed home.

Today I have been applying like crazy to online translation, writing, and tutoring companies. I hate not working! If anyone knows of any online work, let me know!