Nest building

IMGP9630 There is nothing like a trip away from home, to give a different perspective, and sometimes it may be rather unwelcome. When I walked in to my tiny flat in Buenos Aires, after living in a far bigger apartment in England for six weeks, I was shocked at the contrast. In the moment that I came through my door at midnight on Saturday 5th April, I almost couldn’t believe that I had ever lived in the space at all. It made me miss my English flat. It made me miss everything I had just left behind. I confess it made me cry.

But on the plane back here I had already been making plans. I realised, while I was away, that I had never really made this flat my home. I had invested in a good quality sofa bed, but after that I was content to make do. I was afraid back then, that my apartment in England wouldn’t let easily and that I would end up with no money. Perhaps deep down I was even afraid that I might not be coming back to Argentina at all. I struggled for weeks before I allowed myself to replace my broken laptop. I can’t tell you how many times I have been to the local internet café to print a document, first using PDF Creator to turn it into a PDF file, emailing it to myself, and then paying to get it on paper. My clothes were all folded into those pop up laundry containers… no hanging space. And Carlos and me, ate, lived and slept on that sofa bed.  It wasn’t until I went back to England where I have a dining table, a printer, and more than one saucepan, that I determined to make my life in Buenos Aires more comfortable. With a few simple and relatively inexpensive additions, I knew that I could turn my South American living space into a real home. Although I admit I did long for an IKEA…

So, Carlos and me had a big shopping expedition on Saturday. Alas no IKEA, but we did find Carrefour Home.  Things do change so fast here. This new store arrived while I was away. And I like it.  It is quite cheap, but contemporary. There are a couple of them on Avenida Santa Fe, and we chose the larger one. The printers live downstairs, the furniture upstairs. We spent a long time on both floors. The service was great. An extremely helpful guy kindly left us alone while we moved the furniture around trying out various configurations. Then as we selected a kitchen bar table with two stools, a computer desk and a gorgeous transparent, acrylic office chair, he offered us a discount because one of the items was the display model, and arranged for everything to be delivered within an hour. We literally ended up in willing our bus to race against the clock to arrive before the delivery van. It did.

Then came the fun. In one respect Carrefour Home is all too similar to IKEA. The furniture arrives flat packed in a box with a single impossible-to-understand diagram. The first time I turned around I saw Carlos lying IN the box. Once I got him out, I think it took him three hours with a manual screw driver, to build the kitchen bar. Thank goodness the computer table was the display model, and so arrived ready built. But he did it (my Argentine angel), and so we are no longer eating on our knees. And we realised that we can move the bar out onto the balcony when the sun shines and when the smoke clears (See what Buenos Aires looked like in the smoke on Saturday 19th April), to eat our breakfast in the ‘aire libre’.

On Sunday, I took a little trip to Arredo, my favourite soft furnishings chain, and came back with a luxurious black fake fur throw to add to my English one, and some totally delicious cushions. My printer is installed and doing a great job underneath my computer desk. In my one room, I now have a space where I can eat, a work space and a cosy space to relax in … and I now love walking through the door into them all. I keep saying to Carlos, ‘Why didn’t I do it earlier?’ A perfect plant on the balcony, and I will have a garden too!

It is so crazy how I can put off improving things for myself because I am afraid of something.  I have got to start believing that I am on the right path, and so everything will always work out. My latest little challenge here is to get my DNI application made. So far I have had two useless trips to 155, 25 de Mayo. The first was in the morning, to find crowds of people and no obvious system.  The security guard wouldn’t let me in, but told me it would be quieter to come back at 5.30pm. So I returned today at the allotted hour. No people this time, so I did make it to the information desk. But alas, there I was told to return with my Consulate-sealed envelope between 9.30 and 12 in the morning. Mmmmm… going round in circles perhaps… But I am getting used to all that now, and I’ll be back. In the end I’ll get my application in, and I’ll get my DNI. I have faith! Ezeiza airport customs also have a picture I shipped out here from England. It is sort of stuck in the system. Carlos managed to find out today that it counts as ‘an object of art’ and so requires some special process to release it. It’s actually a framed print of a tango painting, and has no real value, other than sentimental. I just want it on my wall. It is the one precious item that I allowed myself to bring from my English home. But again, I will trust that one day I will get it through the door here, to make my little nest complete.

IMGP9618 I am learning that what matters is to keep living in the solution of whatever challenge jumps out to surprise me. There is always something to be faced. As one thing is solved, another arises. I am happy that since I have been back, I seem to have been granted the energy to deal with it all.  And any energy I don’t have, Carlos has. He’s even been baking me bread to  fatten me up. And we all know, that there is not one thing on earth quite like the smell of a fresh loaf rising in the oven, to turn any old house, however small, into a perfect home.


9 Responses

  1. Carlos in a box!!! He looks like you could package him up and post him off somewhere…hmm that’s a thought – mail order tango partners…if only! Which reminds me – my sister bought me a pair of Comme il fauts when she was in BA (about a fortnight ago) and posted them to me. Do you have any idea how long they might take to get to me (are we talking weeks, months, years?) I told her to pick whatever she thought I’d like, so I’m not sure what I’m getting and of course, whether they will fit or not! I may have to chop some of my toes off if necessary…

  2. There’s a certain dormouse quality to that first image! We acquired a hamster on Justin’s birthday so are all too familiar with the nesting instinct at the moment – he spent the first two days wedged in the tiniest corner of tube to feel safe! Glad to know that you too are settling in and making a home – clear in the knowledge that it is the right place for you.
    We miss you lots but happier for knowing you are happy and with Carlos –

    love from us all x

  3. Mmmm, bread!

    It was so lovely to see you and Carlos the other night and to dance with Carlos, finally! 🙂 You are both great.

    Let’s get together this week if you can.


  4. I am glad for you and Carlos ! I also miss my flat in BA, now I share with a friend, as I always did since I moved to London in 2001. No complaints, I love it here, so it´s worth the effort :=). Plus we have an advantage here, there´s Ikea. Hahaha. When I was in BA I bought wooden plate for asado in Carrefour home (loved that shop!). Anyway, happy nesting 🙂

  5. This is a lovely story. I cannot tell you resonated to me, when you commented on how you put off doing things that would make your life better due to the day’s insecurities… I’ve been there, too. Many thanks, for the inspiration (ps and I loved the earthy bread at the end). I do think you do have a home in there.


  6. Shoe update – they’ve arrived, they fit AND they are GOLD. I can’t wait to try them out…

  7. Emily, am so happy you have your shoes. ENJOY!
    Normally posted boxes of shoes take about 10 days maximum to arrive in England, in my experience anyway. I mention it here just incase it helps anyone else. To be honest things seem less reliable if they COME from England. Several things posted to me, I have never received.
    Send me a photo of you in your shoes, please!

    Jo, talking of photos, send me photos of the new kitchen. I want to see it. And it made me smile to hear about the hamster. I hope he is looking after it with enthusiasm. Remember us and the guinea pigs… and the endless arguments over who was going to clean their hutches!

    Tina, it was so gorgeous to see you dance with Carlos. Thanks for allowing me to include the photo of your beautiful feet in my latest blog post. It’s a wonderful picture and will always raise a very happy memory for me. The image represents connections to me: blog connections, tango connections, connections across cultures and lands. Life is good in the world of us explorers and nomads eh? Y suerte por tu viaje!

    Eli, my mum tells me that it was recently the 21st birthday of IKEA and on that day IKEA offered 21% off EVERYTHING. Apparently it was necessary for the leave of whole police forces to be cancelled in order to cope with the associated traffic! Bloody hell! I dread to think of the checkout queues. But then again I have just stood in EASY in Palermo in a checkout queue for about 45 minutes just to buy one item… Arrrgh! Why are checkouts so slow here? Or is it just me, used to the rush of life in England?

    Yes I think I have a home here too. I can’t believe how relaxed I have felt since I got back. I felt like I belonged before, but now it is a more settled feeling. And it is great to know that you identified with me. Sometimes when I write something like that i think, ‘Oh Sal, what are you like?’ and then when somebody pops up and says, ‘Hey, I’ve been there too,’ and it’s a relief, a smile inside, a knowing that I am not alone! So, thanks.


  8. Hi dear..can i just ask an advice from u?

    I’ve fallen for my colleague who’s an Argentine…n i’m Asian. Thinking of travelling to Buenos Aires to meet him in late june/july…however, i’m not ready to get my heart broken.

    Been reading numerous blogs, and i’m not sure to believe what they say abt Argentine men. I mean…not every guy is the same right.

    So what do you advise…and since i have very limited vocab communicating in Spanish, will that be any major problems?


  9. N@dz

    Well…. not sure I am qualified to answer about Argentine men in general! I only have one in my life, and he is a precious soul and I think he would stand out among men from many countries as being exceptionally and consistently loving.
    I guess that every man, from whatever country has the potential to break hearts, as do we women.
    My thoughts would be… if you come, come for yourself, to experience Buenos Aires, to experience Argentina, and come with an open mind. See it as a step on a journey, and that whatever the outcome romantically, it will take you to a new place that may be even better than you ever imagined. Possible?
    As for Spanish, well it is a Spanish speaking country… so if you want to make the best of your time here, you gotta learn the lingo. At least you will benefit massively if you do.
    I wish you well.


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