Five Lessons Learned in Buenos Aires

Note: This is an unedited draft of a post from July 5, 2015. Almost exactly one year ago, written after a week in Buenos Aires. Since writing this post, Kristi and I have continued on to more than a year of non-stop travel, though we're settling down back in Golden, CO in about two months. 

Kristi and I arrived here in Buenos Aires less than a week ago. We've quickly found a routine in some ways, and in others, are still very out of our routine.

  1. No matter where you go, you are still you. If you want to escape from all your insecurities, disappointments, and challenges, you have to figure out how to not take yourself along. 
     
  2. Being outside of your comfort zone grows you.  If you want to escape from all your insecurities, disappointments, and challenges, doing hard things may help turn you into someone who is less insecure, less disappointed, and not as challenged by things that were once challenging. 

    In many ways we feel like children here. We struggle to communicate, don't recognize much, and don't know where things are. In an absolute sense, our accomplishments are small (I.E. we've managed to feed ourselves) and our need is large (We're staying in a grandparent's empty apartment, many people here in Buenos Aires have gone out of their way to help us in small and large ways). 
     
  3. Perspective matters. The first time I walked back from the coworking space to our apartment without wondering if I took a wrong turn, I felt a sense of accomplishment. It's been so long since I've felt a sense of accomplishment for such a mundane thing. I am rediscovering the joys succeeding in very boring ways every day. (Exchanged pleasantries and asked questions to a fruit vendor? WIN! Found lunch, paid for it? WIN!)
     
  4. Doing hard stuff with a friend is better than doing it alone.  Kristi is my best friend. Lots of people travel to other countries by themselves. It's 1000% better doing it with your best friend. (And being married to your best friend? Whoa.) I spent a semester abroad in college, and often felt quite discouraged. I've not felt discouraged at all here, and it's because of Kristi. 

    For example, after butchering my way through a conversation with a taxi driver in terrible, broken Spanish, I was frustrated at how bad I was at it. I was thinking of all the reasons I should be better at Spanish. I was thinking of all the people I know who are fluent in both English and Spanish, and how dumb I am compared to them.

    Kristi just said "Good job. You did great." 

    And I was at peace again.
     
  5. An unstable currency is a disaster. The Argentinian Peso is inflating very, very quickly. There are government controls on bringing money into the country. The official exchange rate is about 25% less than the real exchange rate. This causes great harm to everyone on the peso (except, I suppose, the government who doesn't have to pay debts yet). Everyone inside and outside of Argentina knows the economy is a disaster. But they got there via one small public policy at a time.