June 24, 2008

Two weeks ago I came home, back to England.

It wasn’t a quickly taken decision on my part, although the flight was bought last minute and my arrival home saw a few friends and relatives agog on their doorsteps.

The long and short of it was there wasn’t any work where I was living in Argentina. If I’d stayed out my time at the Estancia I would have still been in Argentina, but I’m still glad I made that decision to leave there, it was the right thing to do.

Since leaving I had my fabulous holiday with the girls, and a very chilled out week in the Recoleta district of Buenos Aires in the amazingly generous Tony’s flat.

Whilst there I looked into teaching, but having talked to others doing the same, the hours worked were very changable and never seemed to come close to covering your costs. Even a post as assistant manager at the South American Explorers club in BA would only just cover my accommodation, but not my living costs.

Up in el campo to the north of Cordoba, I looked for work outdoors with horses. I had an interview, all in Spanish, at a polo estancia which took me the best part of a morning to get to and the rest of the afternoon to get home from. The answer, although very politely put, was the same I heard all over, “It’s Winter, it’s an expensive time for us to keep animals, and the horses we have are all turned out, on a break, after the polo season. Can you come back in September?”

So despite the best efforts of some friends of mine, Antonio and Julio deserving honorable mention, I was having to inch into my savings to stay on. This clearly wasn’t part of the plan, and not something I wanted to resort to without a “very good reason”.

Looking around, underneath rocks and suchlike, sadly did not unearth a “very good reason”.

So despite the general cheapness (although the Argentines are feeling the cost of inflation just as we are in England) of living in a village in the middle of hours and hours of nothing (aka flat soya plains) I knew my Argentine days were numbered.

In the fortnight before I left, I threw myself into housewifery. Cooking, cleaning and ironing for my Argentine flat mates Julio and German. My sponge cakes crammed with dulce de leche were going down very well, as was the washing magically being done and the lads never having to press their biscuit factory uniforms. I was feeding the dog, making the meals, paying the bills at the local post office and running erands while they were out at work.

However, there comes a point when a girls existance demands a little more. I wanted to leave when it was still going well, not when I’d become that foreign girl who doesn’t pay rent.

It was – as I’m learning these things usually are – very, very sad. I was going to have to leave my grapefruit tree in the backyard and my little begonia Julio had bought me (No Julio, I can’t take it on the plane, they scan your bagage). I’d cried and not managed to utter a word when I left Pintag back in February; and this time I cried on the pavement in Cordoba as Julio gave me a bag of chocolates to take with me. (Argentines always give you lovely little chocolates and sweets when you go away, to remind you of them while you’re apart). Very, very sad.

The journey home was interminably long, and not made any easier by the striking hauliers and farmers who are bringing parts of Argentina to a standstill with their road blocks over increased taxation on exported soya and grain.

I had intended to take an overnight bus, 10 or so hours, to Buenos Aires to catch my flight home. However I managed a last minute purchase of an internal flight from Cordoba to BA, then BA to Paris, and finally Paris to Manchester and a quick train ride from there to meet my brother (the only one who knew I was coming home). Quick, sharp, elbowy, mention must be made of the unbelievably fidgetty grown up lady who sat on my left from BA to Paris and who gave no consideration whatsoever to the arm rest which by it’s very existance DIVIDES ONE SEAT FROM ANOTHER. So as she lolled, poked and generally cast her blanket all over me for about 12 hours I wished that I’d gone some other route and had two weeks in Cuba.

So now I’m home. Temporarily jobless. And more than temporarily living at my brothers house (my place still being rented out). The job front looks reasonable to good, and hopefully I’ll be gainfully employed before too much longer.

As for if I’ve got South America out of my system yet… I don’t know. I do however have a very spacious, some might say empty, bank account. So that at the very least will give me reason to stay. For now I have no plans to return and instead I’m keen to continue my Spanish, take a look at the North of England polo scene, and actually use the grey squidgy stuff in my head properly again. I’ll keep you updated…


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