Six months, and staying…

If you had been in Buenos Aires six months, would you want to stay for good?

IMGP6861 Before I left England, back in March, a few people told me that I would not return. I did not believe them. And yet today there is definite proof that they were right. I have just finalised my plans for visiting the UK in December and this time I have bought a one way ticket back to Argentina. When my plane takes off from Gatwick on 6th February 2008 I won’t know when I will see my native lands again. That is a big step for this ‘inglesa’.

Now I am thinking about the last six months. Why am I staying here? What is it about this city that has led me to alter the course of my life, cancel my future career in England, and risk my money in buying an Argentine home?  I’ve got great reasons. Too many to count. But in the interests of giving you advance warning of why, if you come here, you may never want to leave, here are my top 5:

1. The tango

On Friday afternoons when I stand in the sunlight on a beautiful wooden floor and Ariel puts on the first D’Arienzo track and walks towards me, I know that I am doing the one thing that my soul needs to breathe. And I know that I am doing it in a place where my tango energy can join with the energies of all who have walked before me and who will come after me. Here I begin to understand what it is to experience the deepest tango connections, to dance with people whose spirits resonate with mine. I am understood. And I understand. Last Friday Ariel was sad. We did not speak. We danced. I felt his sadness. I touched his soul. Could I experience this in England? Yes perhaps. But here where the men know every tango, every orchestra, every lyric, every story, I have found my tango home.

2. The prices

In the beginning everything seemed cheap. Very cheap. I had English prices in my head and constantly converted back into pounds. By doing this I was able to convince myself that I could afford new tango shoes, argentine steak whenever I was hungry, weird and wonderful clothes to dance in… You may remember the early shopping trip posts on this blog! Now things are different. I see and register prices in pesos. I compare prices in pesos because I have to make my money last as long as possible. Just because it is cheap compared to England doesn’t make it cheap here. However, I have been able to buy a flat when my money would only have bought a beach hut on the south coast back home. And the rent from my apartment in Southampton, after taxes and expenses, will cover a simple life here. My week’s essentials: transport (subte and buses), food (delicious vegetables), tango lessons (Ariel), tango (Milongas) I can afford. Utilities such as electricity, gas, phone and internet are realistically priced, unlike in the UK.  The truth is that I can’t live like a tourist anymore, but if I live like a local I can manage. I could not live the same life in England with the same money. I get asked over and over about the cost of living and soon I will write a post on that subject. There you will get the reality of what it will cost you to live in Buenos Aires should you decide to take the plunge. But for me, for now, the cost of living is affordable.

3. ‘El amor’

OK. I’ll be honest here. In my case I am talking about my Argentine. He is a great reason to stay. But you can’t have him girls… So let’s speak more generally. What is it like to enjoy a cross culture relationship, to be with someone who cannot visualise your past life, to speak love in a foreign language? For me it is like unwrapping the most exciting gift in the world. My Mongolian friend is married to an Italian and I can remember wondering how on earth it could be possible to really know someone when neither speaks the other’s language. They used English. In the beginning we had no common spoken language. We drew pictures: charts to tell our life stories, diagrams to explain our feelings. I can remember our first telephone call. I did not understand a word he said to me, but I heard the tone of his voice, understood his sentiment. Now we can shout at each other in Spanish, and make love in Spanish. But I can still see with one look into his eyes how he feels. To discover for myself  that love can be patiently waiting on another continent for half a lifetime, and that it can grow from a beginning without speech, is reason to stay. I want to know what happens next in this love story.

4. ‘La tranquilidad’

There is a calm and relaxed nature to life here that I have never felt before. Now you could say of course I would feel this: I am not working, I have no pressures. But I was not working in England either… a housewife for several years and with a husband to support me, on the face of it with a lot less to worry about. So what’s the difference? The difference is in the warmth of the smile of the waitress in the cafe on the corner, in the genuine embrace of the friend of a friend met for the first time, in the relaxed chatter of eight men around the table as a house is being bought and sold. It is in ‘the day of the friend’, ‘the day of the spring’, ‘the day of the teacher’. It is in a sense that things are valued and celebrated. It is in a feeling that everything is exactly as it is meant to be.  It rubs off on me. Carlos tells me that I am much more ‘tranquila’ than I was. He is right. There is no doubt too, that making the journey here in the first place has contributed to a greater sense of freedom than I have ever had in my life. I feel empowered by my decisions and this too brings tranquility and peace of mind. I only ever wanted to make the most of my life, and at last I believe that I am. I have to keep walking in the same direction. There is no going back.

5. ‘The ghost’

Until a few weeks ago, I had never heard of ‘the ghost’. But then a fellow tango blogger commented on one of my posts, and wrote the words, her beautiful words, into my mind for the first time. From the moment that I read what she wrote, I understood what it is that I feel in this city. I have met ‘the ghost’ and I know that it has the power to keep me in Buenos Aires. After all, it already has. I am not going to add to what she has to say. For me it would spoil the magic. I am going to leave you to read what she writes about ‘el duende’.

Read and know a little more about ‘the ghost’

In knowing of ‘the ghost’, the unexplained is explained. 

So all I will say is, if you come to Buenos Aires, be prepared. Be prepared for the pain of leaving. Or, if you choose, the joy of staying.


13 Responses

  1. TinaTangos is Touched. 🙂 Thank you for complimenting my words… and congratulations on finding your North Star (even if you are not quite North, geographically speaking…)

  2. […] Here’s SallyCat, following her heart in the land of Tango and damn good alfajores. […]

  3. “4. ‘La tranquilidad’”

    I totally relate to this. I even wrote about it on my blog that I set up last year when I went to Buenos Aires:

    Go to the last 2 paragraphs.

  4. There is indeed something very seductive about Buenos Aires.

    You have a very good blog. Tango has not been a part of my BsAs experience, but I follow it vicariously through your posts.

  5. To be understood is a special feeling, and your comments inspire me to keep walking, both on the dance floor and on my journey. And know this, that all of your blogs help to keep me going too. Thank you. SC

  6. dear sally,

    i am continually amazed by your ability to perceive so much beauty in this world — perhaps that is why you are so blessed with love, art, happiness, and courage. 🙂

    keep going forward,

  7. Congratulations Sally, you’ve found what many fail to. Satisfaction in who you are and where you are.
    There is no greener grass, no accumulated sociological pressure to bend under, no old patterns to fall into. By moving abroad you’ve begun a whole new life and shed a burden you perhaps never realised you had when you were here.

    May your romance of life, love and tango continue unabated for a second lifetime!

  8. Eso!!!
    Five great reasons Sally; ones that all of us can easily identify with….!
    I totally understand where you are coming from, particularly ‘The Ghost’ thing.
    May the delights of travelling forward while facing the other way remain delicious and addictive.
    besitos xx

  9. Having a conversation with Nick last night about ideas of happiness and what we would want for our children and it seemed to us, talking about you, that however mad your choices may have seemed to us stuck behind in England, you are now truly happy in a way I know all too sadly you haven’t been before. So, delighted that you have found your path, your through-line in the dance – am really proud and blown away by you too. And thanks to Carlos for loving you so well …


  10. That my family is proud of me is one of the greatest gifts of all. It is not easy to hear a loved one say that they are leaving to pursue a dream on the other side of the world. It is even harder to let them go with so much love that you do not speak your fears even though you have them in your heart. I am blessed with a family that walk with me every minute of every day: as they bring up their beautiful children, as they drive to work, as they sleep at night. I am who I am, in part, because I have you: my precious ones. SC

  11. Beautiful words indeed in the blog – I had this discussion at some length many times over the years, ‘el duende’ – I don’t think we can adequately describe it in the english language – I tend to think of it as the place in the bottom of the soul that yearns for ‘home’ – It’s the part of the soul that resonates to something which stirs an ancient memory, be it a face, music, a scent, but it’s only ever an approximation for something which cannot be found on this earth. I believe that certain places ‘call’ you according to your particular ‘memory’ in the soul, so as such the resonanse is higher in some countries than others…………those of us on the Tango path should certainly feel the ‘vibes’ strongest in Argentina, for the part of the soul that yearns when it hears the music, the lilting castellano, surely knows it is closest to home in B A….my thoughts, anyway.
    Sal, I get goosebumps every time I read your blog update – this is one of the times where I am really happy to say ‘told you so!!’

  12. […] italiana ella, la llama “The Ghost” (recomiendo leer ese artículo),”El Fantasma”. También lo nombra otra blogger, inglesa, de apodo Sallycat, que vive en Argentina. Esa esencia tanguera argentina, […]

  13. […] italiana ella, la llama “The Ghost” (recomiendo leer ese artículo),”El Fantasma”. También lo nombra otra blogger, inglesa, de apodo Sallycat, que vive en Argentina. Esa esencia tanguera argentina, […]

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