The best part about my care package is that my dad delivered it in person. The only thing that would have made it better is if my mom could have been part of the delivery team too. However, she had (successful) back surgery in the spring and is not cleared yet for 11+ hour flights.
August 2015 weather in Bs As
About dad’s trip
The best part of my dad’s trip? Having him here. I have “seen” my parents quite a bit while I have been in South America thanks to FaceTime. I saw them in person the weekend before I left the US. Living in different states, we often go months without an in-person visit so this separation is not a noticeable difference in my life. But spending time together is better than communicating electronically.
The worst part my dad’s trip? The weather. Seriously. Look at the graphic. He was here for the coldest days of August. And the image fails to show that it was gray and raining most of Monday-Friday. For his birthday, I bought him a winter hat (that he left with me and, that, thank goodness, I took with me on my very cold trip to the north and wore almost every day for two weeks).
Dad sporting his new hat
I was nervous about being the hostess for my first visitor of this whole experience. (I spent a few days with two former co-workers who came to Colombia for a project, but they did not travel to visit me and had practically no free time that I needed to fill.)
I had lists of things we could do and places to eat, but was nervous about committing to much before my dad arrived because I wanted to make sure we did things he was interested in. At his request, I set up a full-day walking tour covering the key sites and history of Buenos Aires with the addition of a Jewish focus. Luckily, I happened to schedule it for the only sunny weekday.
I also bought tickets for the Philharmonic at the legendary Teatro Colón so we could hear a Beethoven program (but somehow the program that night was something I do not remember and Scheherazade, a piece we both love, especially since it is often used in figure skating).
On the other days we picked items off my list and visited a handful of museums, took a driving tour of different parts of the city, and, once the weather improved, traveled to nearby Tigre for the day. We ate good food. A lot of good food. My dad loved the long, leisurely dinners Buenos Aires-style: lasting 3-4 hours and keeping us out late (one night we got home at 1.00 am).
It was fun to see the city through his eyes. To him, it is modern, rather European, cosmopolitan and sprawling. Fortunately, the dog shit was not as prevalent as usual (probably was washed away by the rain). He asked a lot of questions about politics and how Argentina works (is there a program like Social Security? since it is mandatory, what happens if people do not vote?). My knowledge about most of these topics is limited. Our guides and my friends answered some questions; the rest remain unanswered.
He was very impressed with my Spanish. Of course, since he does not speak it, he did know if what I was saying made any sense or if my translations to English were accurate.
Here’s the full photo album from the trip, captions included.
About the care package
I won’t lie. I was almost as excited for my care package to arrive as I was to see my dad.
The most important category was, “Items I cannot find here.” The most important things in this category were curly hair products. It seems like no one in Buenos Aires has hair like mine. It later was explained to me that anyone “unfortunate” enough to be born with curly hair straightens it. Also, I did not realize how much I enjoy a shower pouf until I could not buy one. The woman I am staying with has a special love for cinnamon Altoids, so the delivery included packs for her.
The second category was, “Items I could buy here but would not want to because the quality is not the same.” For example, I bought a bottle of a name-brand lotion. After a few weeks, it separated and no amount of shaking the bottle will mix the ingredients again, so I was using handfuls of watery liquid that left my skin just as dry as it was before I applied the lotion. Similarly, I bought some gum and it just wasn’t the same.
My care package!
The final category was, “Items that are available here but I would not want to buy because they are outrageously expensive.” There was only one thing in this category: quinoa.
In a bit of an irony, my dad brought to Argentina quinoa that had been imported to the US from South America. And, he paid less for it than I would have paid for a package half that size. This means I have more quinoa and more pesos.
A side note: Having more pesos is important because money for foreigners works differently in Argentina than in most countries, especially for people with access to US dollars or Euros. There is an official exchange rate and then there is the “blue rate.” (Here is a detailed explanation or short explanation). I am living an entirely cash life, which I have never done before, and am thinking about my money differently because getting more is not just a trip to an ATM or swipe of a credit card.
Another side note: Mothers sometimes go overboard in showing how much care they about their children. You might notice the inordinate amount of Trident in the photo (do not overlook the 12-pack leaning against the wall) and think I chew gum 24/7. Not even close. I requested two packs of gum. Just two.