After a 9-hour flight back to Miami, I have finally arrived in the place I call home. America– the land of the free and obese. Obviously, I started my descent into the darkness by stuffing my face with a warm and sweet taste of a cinnabon as the scent blesses my nostrils. My girlfriend was driving from Orlando so I had some time to kill at the Miami International airport to reflect on my whole experience. We were going to spend a few days at the Fountainebleu beach resort to make up for our lost time abroad.
Acquainted by a level of luxury only few get to see, I began to forget my experience abroad. The whole experience left me feeling conflicted. The city is architecturally aesthetic, but the streets were flooded by the same plague that afflicts many American cities–poverty. The difference between the two is that there are more resources for the homeless in the United States. Our system is nowhere near perfect, but at least there are resources. Argentina’s poverty level is increasing incrementally over the past two years from 27.5% in 2017 to 32% in 2018. In other words, 1 in 3 people are below the poverty line out of 44.27 million people. It’s only getting worse as their economy destabilizes as the value of their currency devalues and inflation goes up. The citizens could lose purchasing power by the time they have la cena (dinner).
I, by no means, come from wealth. I still live in Pine Hills. Not having the ability to convert my dollars to Argentine pesos was a blow to me because I realized how expensive things were again. I thought I would miss the city as much until I spent a week back in Orlando. I had to “Americanize” myself again. In this context, this means taxes! Before I left, I got rid of my insurance. Not having insurance means you have to give up your tags and spend hours in the DMV becoming legal again. I spent over $400 to get my insurance, registration tag, license (because my wallet was stolen in Buenos Aires). Argentina would never charge this much to get all of these things back. There would be an uproar and riot. No longer am I paying less than $10 for a burger, fries, and a craft beer. I found out we are getting robbed by Heineken! Did you know they sell their 24 oz cans to the Argentines for less than $2, and we pay more than $7(including tip) in a bar or restaurant? No longer are the bar/restaurants or premium ice cream shops across the street from where I live. I didn’t realize how boring my part of town was.
If I was presented the choice to live in Buenos Aires, I would. I would have a better system in place to make myself more comfortable. Most of complaints about my experience stem from things that were outside of my control like the food my host family made or the WiFi that was never strong enough to have a conversation via video call. Or when you lose access to your debit card because there were fraudulent charges on them so you have to send money orders to yourself– which was a hassle because every Western Union in the city had its own set of rules that set limitations on how or when I can receive my money. Having my car in the city would reduce feelings of hypervigilance because my chances of being pick-pocketed on public transit will decrease. The amount of pickpockets in the city is so high that the locals wear backpacks on their chest to decrease their effectiveness, but there are people who will wait at bus stops and jump and snatch your phone if your near a window with your phone out. Besides all of which I’ve listed I would go back.