Thursday, May 28, 2009

Udate: February 2000

I sent this off as an email to friends, family and acquaintences to let them know of my doings, eight months after moving to Buenos Aires.

My life has slipped into boring routine now in my 8th month here in Argentina. I have a job which I go to from 9am-7ish pm M-F, I have friends whom I occasionally see during the week for coffee or a movie and then go out to one of several bars and discos on the weekend. In fact, aside from the fact that my life, work and social, is almost entirely in Spanish, there is really no difference from what I would be doing in the US. Still, every now and again when I'm crowded into a Taxi at 3am heading off to some nightclub with a group of friends and we're hurtling down Avenida Corrientes past the neon lights of theatres and bustling cafes towards the Obelisk on 9 de Julio, I get a little thrill at being here in Buenos Aires.

I have not been spending all of my time in Buenos Aires. Last week I was given vacation and I took the opportunity to Torres del Paine, in the far south of Chile, where I spent five days backpacking through some really incredible scenery. The typical vacation here is to go off with all of one's family and friends to the beach and spend two weeks soaking up the sun and partying at night. If you're middle class you do this in Mar Del Plata, if your upper in Punta del Este in Uruguay. That I would go off, alone, to the cold south and spend nearly a week of hard, physically straining hiking, is inscrutable to most people I know here.

Aside from this most recent trip, I have taken occasional jaunts over to Uruguay to renew my tourist status. It's really quite easy. Everytime I leave the country and reenter (even if I only leave for a day) the immigration officials automatically stamp my passport for another 90 days. My last border crossing I did not even have to get off the bus. I know foreigners here in Buenos Aires who have been doing this for two years. Basically if you are American or European they don't care. Immigration officials are only looking for Bolivians and Peruvians illegally in the country.

My work life has been a bit chaotic so I'll give a brief summary since the beginning. My first couple of months I spent working on a project to sell "broadband" Latin American "experiences" to the world. It was fun to work on and I got to surf the internet a lot but we (it was just the founder--the former beef salesman--and me) never really came up with a plan that seemed workable and in the end the beef salesman killed the project (he's back at it, tho, with a business to business site that seems to be attracting a lot of interest, altho it has not launched yet).

My second brief career began shortly after my last general letter, in late september. I went to work for one of the contenders to be the ebay of Latin America. It was a fun, chaotic place to be for the first couple of weeks. However, when I found myself spending entire days making cold calls to surly retailers (in Spanish, mind you), I realized that perhaps the job was not for me. I learned a lot in the seven, stressful weeks I spent with there. Unfortunately, as my dad wisely pointed out, most of the lessons one learns in life are of the form 'oh, I'll never do *that* again.'

And so now I am working for a web service company that builds sites for corporate clients. It's still internet, but the stress and chaos level isn't quite at the Spinal Tap 11 that auction site operated at. My job, basically, is to surf the internet and figure out what kinds of solutions we can or should be offering to our clients (pardon the consultant speak, it's hard to fight its creeping encroachment on my vocabulary). I like the place and the people are very nice, but integrating myself and making myself useful has proven challenging. But then, language barrier or no, I suppose this is the challenge of any job.

[February 29, 2000]