Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Buenos Aires, etc.
I’m a native born Californian from Los Angeles where I lived all my life until I left to live in France, Mexico and then to Buenos Aires in 2003, where I continue to live, work, dance, and write today.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
At the end of 2005, I fell in Pilates and broke two ribs. So I was stranded at home and unable to dance. A friend asked me to be a guest contributor to his blog, and while signing up I hit the wrong button on Blogger. Lo! I myself had my own blog in 2006. And because I was housebound, it was a great creative outlet for a time when I couldn’t dance. And by the time I was well, I was hooked!
I’ve always been a writer, and because of blogging, I was able to publish my memoir last year, The Church of Tango.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Please remember that I’ve been writing this blog for seven years, so I have many favorites, many of which I’ve forgotten about.
Over the years, the most popular post I’ve written is “Vettriano and His Secrets” – I personally am fond of “The Circle of Tango” – And “Tango: The Dark Side” – as well as “The Milonguero Way” – and “Medical Concerns of Expat Life”.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Buenos Aires differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Life in Buenos Aires is completely different from that of Los Angeles. After ten years I still am not adjusted, and never will be. Life is much more difficult here, and more so for me because I am older and without funds. I think if one is young with a good income it would be a lot easier. This is the Third World after all, and Argentina especially is not well organized. It’s better if you can go with the flow: i.e., crazy inflation, regular power outages and blocked streets, an abundance of legal holidays when everything is closed, frequent shutdowns of public transportation, strictly a cash society, etc.
Yes after ten years I am still in culture shock, but I accept it. I am very grateful that with my Argentine partner I am able to teach tango, and we are highly regarded internationally due to our student base from every country, culture, continent.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Buenos Aires? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
No one can be totally prepared for living in a foreign country. But because I had visited Buenos Aires multiple times on vacation to dance, and was living at the time in another latino country, Mexico, I thought I knew what I was getting into.
I wish I had brought my good pots and pans and linens, and left my “professional” wardrobe at home.
But I am very glad I brought my American cat, who also lived with me in Mexico: Phoebe the Expat Cat.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I didn’t realize that Mexican Spanish and Argentinian Castellano were so different. When I first arrived in Buenos Aires, it was the time of my birthday which I always celebrate. So I ordered a cake with “Feliz Cumple, Cherie” written on top. But I didn’t know that “pastel” here in Argentina wasn’t a cake like it was in Mexico. Consequently when I picked it up at the deli, I had a meat loaf with Happy Birthday written on top in mashed potato!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Buenos Aires?
- Bring more (cash) money and count on everything being more expensive than anticipated;
- Don’t expect the same quality of life that you lived before;
- Bring your pet.
How is the expat community in Buenos Aires? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I’m very grateful to be in an English Writers’ Group (not necessarily all expats but all write in English), who really helped me finish my first book, The Church of Tango: a Memoir, and is now helping me with my second. Wonderful, supportive, professional people.
Otherwise I don’t especially participate in expat events, as they are usually far from where I live. Most take place in the “expat barrio” of Palermo, and it’s not easy to get there from my barrio of Boedo. I’m involved in the tango world and most of the expats I meet are tango dancers.
How would you summarize your expat life in Buenos Aires in a single, catchy sentence?
“Home is where the cat is!” – the title of the last chapter of my memoir, The Church of Tango.