Lessons Learned in Buenos Aires

My friend Aimee is putting herself through a self-imposed tango bootcamp here in Buenos Aires.  Most of which involves her lying on the floor wearing 80s flashdance leggings and breathing deeply – she claims it’s incredibly taxing, but we’re yet to be convinced).

They take tango very seriously here.  Aimee is not allowed to breathe standing up until she has learned to breathe properly lying down.  And that could take weeks.  Apparently she needs to learn to soften her breastbone.  Since bones are notoriously tricky things to soften, I don’t rate her chances.

She has bought some very beautiful red suede tango shoes from a famous shop here in BsAs, called Comme il Faut.  If you have a foot fetish, then may I suggest this as a suitable place of worship.  In the upstairs room of a little row of boutique shops, women line the edges, feet naked as the day they were born, their eyes lit up with the feverish glow of the true believer.  There are almost no shoes on display.  In this shop, you simply tell the assistants your size and they bring you heaped boxes of jewel-coloured stilettos.  It is a reverent place, voices are not raised except for little squeals and moans of pleasure.

I feel they’re missing a trick with their business.  If it were mine, I would make all the mirrors one-way and create a space in the backroom for pedi-voyeurs.  Double the revenue, double the pleasure-giving.  Win, win, kerr-ching.

holiday vs work/travel

This trip for me is the first real stress-test of the new lifestyle.  The idea was that the money I’d save by not living in London would fund the trip, so I’d come away from a 2 month adventure cash neutral.  And since I’ll carry on working on business ideas whilst I’m travelling, I’m not losing any time on income-generating projects.

Like so many of my ideas, this one’s proving great at a conceptual level and about a million miles wide of the mark in real life…

Firstly, South America is not cheap.  If, like me, you are pretty rough round the edges when it comes to actual knowledge on anything political or socio-economical, then you probably think that poor old Argentina is still on the financial skids and you’ll be living like a king on a couple of pesos a day.

Not quite.  Great quality beef is cheap.  You can feast on a side of cow quite happily for £10 a meal.  But that’s where the gravy train ends.  Accommodation is expensive.  Drinks are around the same price as in London.  Flights are extortionate and the amazing long-distance bus service has significantly ramped up its prices in recent times.

If you’re used to travelling in India and South East Asia, then South America will feel like you’re taking a sledgehammer to your savings account.  I’m realising that city living = city living, no matter where you are.  Which makes it fine if your plan is to stay put in a city for a few months and live like a local (like these guys do: http://istanbul.for91days.com/).  Not so good if you’re seeing the sights a lot and eating out twice a day.

In other words, I’m 10 days in and I’ve rinsed through an awful lot of cash.

important lessons

I’ve learned some valuable lessons since I’ve been here:

– I’m probably not cut out to be a tango dancer, so that’s one potential source of revenue gone.  I tried to blame my malco-ordination on the fact I was wearing flat shoes, but in truth I just can’t pivot in any way that doesn’t remind me of that old advert with the dancing hippos.  And I’m tense.  Very tense.  All the time.

– I really should do a bit more research (than none) on the places I’m visiting.  At least to find out if I can vaguely afford to spend time in them and, if so, for how long.  I like to think I’m being spontaneous and carefree.  In reality, I’m just in denial and increasing debt.

– Being away is great for creating space and focus to get on with projects.  Everything feels less pressured here and it’s amazing how much more energy you’re willing to put into work when you have new places to explore.

The Mack arrives today, so it will be back to the regime of post-it notes and time-keeping.  I’m not feeling anywhere near as cross about it as I do when I’m in London.  But that could be because I now know my way around Buenos Aires, so if it gets too much, I can just go off grid and he’ll never, ever find me…

Burger King, Buenos Aires-style

Burger King, Buenos Aires-style

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