It isn't like I woke up one day and my expenses were 8 times what they were when I bought my apartment, or I decided I was tired of dancing tango. It was something that happened gradually. When I made my move to Buenos Aires, I thought I had considered everything. It was my business analyst self. Look at the problem from all angles and come up with solutions.
Life does not work that way in Argentina. I had no idea or rather a vague idea about Argentina's history with hiper inflation. This was something completly foreign to me. In the US we had inflation of 6% maybe 8%, (OK in 1973 it was 11% and in 1914 23% but normally it is not that high) but here in Argentina double and even triple digit inflation was not unusual. In the US we have political strife, but nothing like here where it borders on or becomes a dictatorship or total anarchy.
When one begins to really live in a country, you learn what it is all about. When I first came to Argentina my Spanish skills were at survival level or may be a little better. I could communicate. There was lots I didn't understand. As my Spanish improved my view of the world changed. I could actually understand the things people were saying to me. It wasn't always nice.
Things began to change. The simple elegance of Buenos Aires was gone. I remember when I came here women did not wear pants or shorts on the street. They wore dresses, skirts. Men were well groomed. People were fashionable. They were thin. Argentina had the highest rate of anorexia tied with Japan.
As I looked at people on the street, I would wonder what happened to the elegance? No longer were people well dressed. It was almost painful to look at them. That, and people were fat. It made me laugh to hear Argentines talk about how fat Americans are. Have you looked in the mirror lately? Most men regardless of their age look pregnant and the women are the same. Not only is it unattractive it is unhealthy.
Teenagers. It is a sad state of affairs when I have better abs than a teenage girl. Love handles hanging over jeans, legs that should not be wearing mini-skits, and midriff bulge. Too much beer, too much Coke, not enough exercise.
When I came here, people drank water and wine. Now they drink beer and soft drinks loaded with fructose. Young people stand on the sidewalk drinking liters of beer. They throw their trash on the sidewalk, out of bus and car windows. No one has respect anymore.
My barrio Palermo is one of the best in Buenos Aires. Full of trash. Grafitti. The attitude comes from the top. A president who talks like she is in a bar yelling at friends. We all remember the famous "Chicos estamos en Harvard" when she was asked a question while addressing students at Harvard. It was embarrassing. She tried to put them down, embarrass them, rather than behave like the president of a country.
The more I went to dance, the less I enjoyed it. The level of dance was not the same. I didn't want to dance with men who couldn't, just to dance. Men who could dance and used to dance with me were looking for other things. I remember one day entering a milonga. I went to greet a friend of mine who had also just entered.
"Hola hermosa" he said to me as we kissed. After the "how are you blah blah blah" he proceeded to inform me that he could not dance with me that night. "I'm working." He said to me. "Work? What work?" I asked him. He swept his arm in the direction where the majority of the women tourists were sitting. "If I don't get lucky by 4:00 am, we'll dance." he said as he scurried away like a rat after cheese to sit at the table with the other rats.
This was a man who when I met him in 2002 made a point of telling me "He did not dance with foreign women." I got a lecture about how "we did not know how to dance" and that for him was enough. That was until 2007 when he discovered the "magic of foreign women" and I am not talking about the dance.
I love the music of the tango. I loved to dance with someone who understood the music. I was almost as bad as my 70 year old friends who I knew from the milongas. Living in the past. When the milongas were smokey, when people dressed well, when watching the dancers was a pleasure. The milongas had changed and so did I.
I tried a clothing business. When the government stopped imports it made life miserable for me. Bad quality fabrics, people who were supposed to sew for me who didn't complete their obligations. Doing business here is a nightmare. It is amazing there are any here. Never in my worst times in my computer business did I have the issues I encountered here.
Prices just kept getting higher and higher. They kept (and keep) printing more money to pay for all the subsidized programs. As an American, reading about the corruption was horrifying. The vice president has more charges of corruptions against him than M&Ms in the M&M factory, yet he is still in office.
We took to the streets in marches. Back to the 60s and 70s. It was really repulsive to read the comments made by Americans who had been to Buenos Aires to dance tango make fun of us. How dare they! These people have absolutely N O idea what it is like to live here. I wonder what they think now. Well who cares.
I began to feel lost. An identity crisis of sorts. I came here to dance tango, to live a new life. Tango was my life. That all changed. Not just because of the tango.. With the bad press on Argentina fewer people were coming here. Prices were out of control. Everyone was angry all the time.
One day I went to the doctor. "You are still here?" he said to me. "Why?" I didn't know what to say. "You aren't married, you don't have kids here. Leave:" He said. "Leave because it is only going to get worse."