When Bart and Nathalie asked me for a guest post about my life in Argentina I immediately said YES. It is very special to have a chance to live abroad, especially as a football nomad. I would love to tell you more about my life and the place where I currently live.
Who I am..
Let’s first introduce myself briefly. In 2013 I moved together with my boyfriend towards South-America. My boyfriend is Uruguayan and his profession is playing football. We met each other in The Netherlands. Because of his job we moved to Uruguay, where we lived for almost a year in the capital, Montevideo. Hereafter we moved towards Bogotá (Colombia) and there we lived for roughly half a year. And the following football transfer came. And because of that we are living now in San Juan, Argentina. San Juan would not ring a bell to most people, but it is located roughly two hours way from Mendoza. By car it will take you six hours to arrive in Santiago de Chile. The capital of Chile is therefore closer to us than the capital of Argentina, as it will take at least ten hours to arrive in Buenos Aires from San Juan.
San Juan was definitely a big culture shock for me. I lived for more than one and a half year in quite a big city, namely Montevideo, Uruguay and even in a larger Latin-Amrican city in Colombia, Bogotá, which has about 10 million inhabitants. To live in South America, of course with some changes compared to living in Europe, did not change dramatically from my life in The Netherlands.
But when I arrived in San Juan I had to count till ten… I wasn’t just my first impression only, but I had an earthquake as welcome gift in my new city as well. Luckily not that severe as in 1948 when almost the whole city center collapsed.
San Juan is a cute little country town compared to the other cities where I lived. A tiny city where the people are very loyal to their siesta, from 12:00 till 18:00, all seasons long. Shops will close, phone companies will close all the lines, it’s like a ghost town. I am very lucky when I meet another foreigner once every three months in this city. And even they are surprised by the fact that I live here and speak a different language. At least once a week I see people pointing, and then whispering, and then staring when they see me and my boyfriend speaking in English. They should be afraid how much Spanish I actually understand ;)
When I am in a supermarket people are staring to me a lot, and I really mean staring, they see a blond, relatively tall woman. They are not ashamed at all when staring at me. Maybe they are thinking that I am from another planet. And they assume that if you are a foreigner you don’t understand why they are staring. I am even more more outstanding as in Uruguay or Colombia. Even when I am wearing my dull pajamas, my hair in messy bun, the big letters – EUROPEAN – are clearly marked for me.
A kind of The Netherlands versus Germany…
When I arrived in Argentina I noticed that it is very similar with Uruguay, but I have to be careful when saying that, as there is a some rivalry amongst the two. I also have to be careful, because my Uruguayan in-laws always tell me that the Argentineans want ta take all the credits for the asado, the yerba, the tango, the dulce de leche and the list continues… And vice versa I know that the Argentineans will say the same about the Uruguayans.
It’s the same rivalry between the small Holland and it’s big neighbor Germany. For me it’s very funny to see how many similarities Argentina and Uruguay have with each other. Maybe the countries are a bit grey-ish, where house have bars before their windows, but nevertheless they are extremely proud on their national football teams. Both countries have a lot of old cars driving on their roads, which we in The Netherlands have said farewell already in the early fifties. Countries, where sweet is king; for the cookies, the coffee, the breakfast, you name it. And besides, they stick to what they are knowing, they do not change their eating habits at all.
Both countries are countries where the life is spent mainly outside, especially during the weekends. In the parks and at the boulevards you will see a bunch of people enjoying their asado’s and mate. And also I have to mention all the street vendors with their home made empanadas, torta fritas and hotdogs.
What’s the fun about?..
Buenos Aires is undoubtedly a big difference with the place where I am now. And I am expecting that the capital of Argentina is much more European-like. I only visited both of its airports, and I was in a taxi drive between them. To go sightseeing for a day is almost impossible from San Juan, when you are ten hours distance away. And you have to bear in mind that professional football players do not have a lot of free days in a row.
Fortunately San Juan is only a two hours drive away from Mendoza. The city of the well known Malbec grapes and capital of Argentina’s most famous wine region. Here you are able to ride a horse or to hike in the most beautiful places you would ever experience. You can taste a lof of different wines, and you can enjoy your lunch between the vineyards together with a marvelous view on the Andes.
Mendoza is much larger as San Juan, and I notice that the people there are more used to tourists. They are speaking English with me, which would be almost a miracle if that happened to me in San Juan. Also Mendoza is more modern city. Foreign products for example are hard to find in San Juan, where in Mendoza it would be quite an easy job for you. Also there are some great lunch spots where they sell sandwiches, and for all who doesn’t know it already – the Dutch love sandwiches. South Americans generally are having a warm meal for lunch and not a cold sandwiches. Maybe the sandwiches are arrived here because of the good influence from the many American and European ‘wine’ tourists.
Across the boarder…
And then there is my favorite little journey (little?, let’s say big) towards Santiago, the capital of Chile. In approximately six hours I can be in Santiago. The route takes me from the Mendoza vineyards, and then winds through the Andes area. Where you are able to cool down your feet in the fresh ice water during the summer, and where you can go skiing in the winter, or you can do the same as many South-American families: take your chair and sit alongside the road next to your car and have you lunch and mate there. Actually I think it’s pretty awesome. You never experience that in The Netherland, families who are enjoying their food on some camping chairs next to an open car. Here there are a lot of barbecue places nearby the road and avery Sunday whole San Juan is escaping the city to eat at on of the public asado (bbq) places. No matter if it is winter or summer. Anyway I’m a little bit lost now. I was talking about my favorite journey to Santiago, from San Juan. I never thought I would do this in The Netherlands. To drive six hours for just a weekend. That’s almost the same for a weekend Paris, which I never thought of doing that at all. Isn’t that strange? But how strange it may sound it is even may first choice when we have a (scarce) free weekend together. And why not? You are driving through a marvelous scenery and then you end up in a metropolis, in another country.
Being a Football nomad…
It is very difficult to explain others how my experience is.. To live in another country. For me there are two ways of living abroad. There are people who emigrate and are living for many years in the same (new) spot. Those people can perfectly explain the difference between their new home and their old, and can perfectly explain how it is to live there. And than you have people like me, the girlfriend of a football player, who has lived now in four different countries in two years. A way of life, sometimes maybe more surviving, already moving without really knowing each country, or to settle down for a while. I am more a long-term tourist than an inhabitant. The downside is this way of living does not give me a lot of certainty or stability in my life, but it gives me an adventurous life. Fun and exciting, despite the fact I cannot settle somewhere completely. Actually it is a super long holiday trip, and who doesn’t like holidays ;).
Are you curious about my adventures as a modern nomad, cooking football girlfriend, living in South America? Please do visit my blog where I share all my personal adventures and more…
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