Leaving Argentina

It’s Monday, 9 in the morning in Buenos Aires. I just woke up, I go to the bathroom to brush my teeth, wash my face and get ready to go to the office. I make the bed, arrange the living room, I make sure the stoves are not leaking gas (yeah, I do this after a trauma, but that’s for another story) and ready to go.

It takes me around half an hour to get to the office if I take the subway. I think for a second and I decide, rather than the subway, I will rollerblade there. Alright, I go and put the rollerblades on I leave the apartment. On my way down thru the elevator (lift if you are posh 😏) I say hello to the doorman (it’s a she, maybe doorwoman?), close the door and head towards downtown.

While on rollerblades, I have to be focus on the streets, the cars, people and all kind of obstacles that could be on my path so I can avoid them (or hit them, fall and then cry) but my mind was somewhere else. This past weekend, my girlfriend told me that she wants to go to France to do something different, to start something new at the other side of the world. We talked about it and, I think I was selfish, but I told her that I was not ready to go. The reason for this is because I just got promoted at work, I have a really good job, my salary is pretty good and I’ve worked really hard to be where I am now, I felt like all the effort I have put through the years was going to be in vain, I’m not ready at this moment in my life for this kind of change.

Even though I already made my decision, this idea was still roaming in my head.

I’m crossing one of the busiest streets in Buenos Aires and the police stops me, they are saying that I should not be on rollerblades on the street because it’s dangerous (❔). I say to the policeman:

– Me: before he says something: I know and I understand
– Police officer: I stopped you because you should not be on those things on the street
– Me: I’m sorry, I won’t do it again, thinking that of course I will do it
– Police officer: I hope so
– Me: I’m going to work, can I please go?
– Police officer: go, but no more, ok?
– Me: I promise, while crossing my fingers on my back

Just arrived to the office, I’m taking my rollerblades off at the hall of the building while people is entering to work. They look at me like I’m a crazy idiot going to work on those things (Indeed I am). I put my shoes on and I take the elevator to the 8th floor. I enter the office, go to my computer while saying hello to my coworkers and sit to start my work day. But wait! There’s something that I’m obliged to do before start my working day, guess what that is… of course, mate (not the australian word, the drink: 🧉). Back at my desk with my mate in hand, I’m ready to work.

Hours gone by and it’s lunch time. The company doesn’t offer lunch to the employees, I have to go out to city center with all the heat and all the people doing the same that I’m doing: in the quest of getting some food (now say it with Optimus Prime voice, it sounds cool, doesn’t it?). I invite a coworker to finish the quest together and out we go.

We went straight to a place that we go quite often, it’s called “El buen libro” (in english means: “The good book”). You will think that it’s a library or something like that… but no, it’s a place where they sell custom made sandwiches. You go there, you choose the bread and what you want to put in it. They have all kind of sausages, meat, cheeses. Once you choose, they make it right in front of you and they charge you based on the items you selected. Pretty cool, ah?

This is their Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/elbuenlibro.ok

We get the sandwiches and we can say that quest is completed, the reward is really tasty!
During the talk with my coworker, I tell him about the idea of my girlfriend going to France. I explain him what I think about it and my reasons to stay and, after all that, he looks at me and says: “but why don’t you go?”. Just like that. I didn’t even think for a second and I answered: “You know what? You are right, why will I loose the opportunity to do such thing? Fuck it, I’ll do it”.

And that was the moment when I changed my mind and decided to leave everything behind, all the things I had, my family, my friends, my rollerblades (nah, just kidding, I’ll take a pair of them).

It was a moment of realization, I know I can do it and I’ll experience many many many new things and discover new places, new people, new rollerblades (ahh, everything around rollerblades, god damn it Emmanuel!). So yes, let’s do it, let’s go to France.

You may be wondering “why France?” and the answer to that is pretty simple, France has a very easy to get Working Holiday visa. This kind of visa allows you to work in France and to travel all around Europe (Schengen Space) for a year. You can only get this kind of visa once in your lifetime before you turn 35 years old (if you are thinking about it, you better hurry!)

The appointment’s day at the French embassy is coming closer and I have to collect all the papers. Most of them are done, but I’m missing one, just one, the one a doctor can write and sign saying that I’m healthy. I get a doctor appointment two days before the visa appointment. I go there and the doctor asks me what do I need this paper for: simple answer, I’m leaving the country. I’m thinking: “he’s gonna start to check my vital signs, my lungs, my reflexes…” but no, nothing of this. We are talking about this new adventure and that’s it, he signs the paper and I’m heading back home. Damn, that was easy!

I just realized there’s another missing paper, one of the most important, is one that proves where you are going to stay the first month (you can’t have planned the whole year). For so, there are many ways: booking a hotel, going to a friend’s house or, another one is WorkAway. WorkAway is a platform in which hosts allow people to be in their home for the agreed time. You, as a “workawayer” work for the hosts 4 hours a day only during week days, you have the weekends free. The host will give you accommodation and food (even during weekends, if you agree). Sabrina found his hosts after having few interviews with them, now it’s my time.

I create an account in the webpage and I start to search. I open the first one that looks interesting to me, it’s a house in the middle of a mountain, near Geneva. I contacted the host, Marie-Ange, we had an interview and she is so lovely! She lives in the house with her daughter and she needs someone to keep the garden and the house in shape. We agree to an interview and here we are! I’m telling her that I love the place based on the pictures and I’d like to be near nature, she says: “Emmanuel, there’s nothing here, the closest Cinema is 30 minutes away, you will get bored”, then I say “that’s what I’m looking for, I’m tired of the city and I want some peace”. “You are more than welcome then!” she says.

I’m so happy! This place looks amazing! In the next days she will send me all the paper needed and we are good to go!

Visa appointment day

I’m just waking up and my belly hurts, I’m feeling super nervous because I have to be at the French embassy in an hour. My girlfriend is already awake and getting ready to go. I get up and get dressed, we are not even thinking about getting something for breakfast, the nerves are killing us! We leave the house and take the first bus to take us to city center. The embassy is 50 meters away and we can see that it’s closed, not open to the public yet! We are waiting outside until they open, we go inside. Our appointment was the first one, we present all the papers, leave our passports with them and we leave the embassy.

I’m having such an amazing relief feeling that I can’t describe! All the nerves are gone, and now I’m feeling really hungry, time to hit the bakery!

Hell yeah! That’s what I’m talking about! I get a dozen of the things you are seeing above (they are called “facturas”) and I have to go to the office (yeah, I still have to work, shit!)

I arrive at the office and I prepare my self a Mate (the Argentinian drink, not the Australian way of calling a guy) after saying good morning to my coworkers. Life is good, I feel relax and nice, let’s have breakfast!

Every Monday, within the working hours at the office, I have English classes with a teacher from United States who lives in Buenos Aires. He’s really cool and I’ve been learning a lot since I joined the company. When the class finishes, I stay a little bit longer and I tell him that I went today to get the French visa and I’ll probably (yes, probably, I don’t know if I’ll get the visa) leave the country. His response is: “That’s fucking awesome man! I congratulate you and I hope you enjoy it a lot!”.

Coming back to my desk I’m thinking: “that response was really good, if I had any doubts about going, that’s it, no more doubts, not at all”.

Two weeks after presenting all the papers, I get an email from the embassy saying that I have to go to pick the passport up. I go there, they give me the passport and I check if the visa is there and… it is! I’m so exited! I can’t believe it!

Today I’m working from home, I take the subway back home and thinking about the adventure ahead of my, I start crying out of emotion, people is looking at me but I don’t care! I’m happy!

Before France, a trip to the south of Argentina

Now that I’m sure that I’m leaving, there are things that I hate but I have to do. For instance, I have to quit my job. I have never done something like this, I was fire or my contract was not renewed, but myself going to say that I’m not gonna work anymore? Never. But it has to be done.

To put you in context, today is June 30th 2019. I’m at the office and I’m taking courage to go and talk to my boss. Time’s out, go Emmanuel. I leave my desk and I go to his office, I knock on his door:
– “Hey Franco, can I talk to you for a second?”, I say almost shacking
– “Sure, take a sit”, he says
– “I don’t know how to do this, I have never done it before, but I have to tell you that I’m quitting my job in two weeks”, I say looking at him to his eyes
– “How? What? Why?”, he asks me, widely opening his eyes, he can’t believe it, “What can we do for you to stay? We don’t want you to leave”
– “I’m sorry, but the decision is taken, I’m going to France in two months and I guess you won’t allow me to work remotely”, I say
– “Right, we can’t allow you to work remotely because of the insurance”, he says while adding: “I’m sorry to hear that, what you are going to do is amazing and I support you. If you ever happen to come back to Argentina, don’t hesitate on sending me an email, you have a guaranteed job here”
– “Thank you so much, I really appreciate that and thanks for everything”, I say almost crying

“Uff, that was hard, it took me a lot of courage”, I’m thinking while heading back to my desk. But it’s done, in two months I’ll be job-less.

With my girlfriend and some friends, we decided to go to the south of Argentina, where my girlfriend’s parents live, more exactly in Puerto Madryn, around 1000km from Bolivar, my hometown. I’ve asked my dad if I can borrow his truck to travel and he agreed. For this, I have to ask my little sister’s assistance, she has a nice bond with my dad and she gave me a hand by convincing my dad of lending me the truck, the only condition is that I have to take my sister with me. This is going to be a 3 weeks trip, she wants to go, so, Genesis is coming with us! (Genesis is my sister’s name)

Before going to the south, I make all the arrangements to be in my hometown by July 4th, my mom’s birthday, so we can all celebrate it.

Keep this in mind, by now, nobody besides my girlfriend, my English teacher and my boss knows that I got the visa and I’m leaving the country in two months,

I arrive to my hometown along with friends and we are having a dinner with the whole family. I’m thinking: “I have to tell them that we are leaving soon, let’s do it”. I get up from my chair, while everything is eating, and i go:
– “I have something to tell you”
– “Sabrina is pregnant!”, my mom says out loud (Sabrina is my girlfriend’s name)
– “No mom”, I say
– “You are getting married!”, my dad yells
– “No dad, it’s not that, please let me finish”, I say
– “You are going somewhere!”, my mom again, guessing or knowing what it was coming
– “Mom, you are right, we are going to France for a year in two months!”, I say, kind of ashamed, not knowing how will they react.

Everyone starts coming towards us, Sabrina is crying, my friends (who didn’t know either) are happy and celebrating, my grandma is screaming. Some of them are extremely happy, some of them are very sad. My grandpa is sitting next to me, he’s a very conservative kind of person, his goals in his life have been getting married, a house, the family and one of the most important things, a job. First thing he says is: “but what about your job Emma? What are you going to do?”. “I don’t have a job anymore grandpa, I already resigned”, I say, looking at him in his eyes. “Oh”, is his only word, he looks and sounds devastated.

Few minutes go by, I’m talking to all the people here and telling them what are the plans when, out of the blue, my grandpa comes to talk to me and he says, with tears in his eyes: “Emma, you are going to be alright, you are going to find another job and this is not the end of the world, you are responsible and you will find the way”. At that moment I didn’t realize how much those words meant to me and specially to him. Just thinking about it and writing about it makes me cry 😭 He wishes my the best while shaking my hand and looking at me in the eyes.

Night is over, we are leaving early in the morning, let’s get some sleep.

I get up at 7am and start to get the truck ready, loading all the luggage, rollerblades, food, mate (always there, specially during long trips), checking the tires pressure, oil level and I go to the gas station to fill the tank. Come back to my parent’s home, everyone is awake and ready to go. We are having breakfast when someone knocks on the front door, “who can it be?”, Genesis, of course, coming back from party. My dad opens the door and there she is, fucking drunk and willing to go with us no matter what. Luckily, she packed her things last night and I already put them in the truck. Saying few words, she jumps in the back seat and starts sleeping (remember this…).

We hit the road, radio is on and they are playing Jose Larralde songs (he relates stories from the country side of Argentina and he’s one of my favorite artists). We have a long trip ahead but you have to start from the beginning, right?

We make a stop in “Sierra de la Ventana”. it’s 320km from my hometown. I stop and I check on Genesis, she just woke up, looks outside and says “oh, we are here, I’ll take a picture”. She goes out, takes a picture and goes back to the truck to continue with her sleep (she didn’t wake up since we left!). We stretch our legs, take few pictures and continue with the trip, 700 more kms to go.

Sierra de la Ventana means “Window’s Hill” because, as you can see in the picture, there’s a window in the hill

After long hours, we arrive to Puerto Madryn, After 1056km (to be exact) and more than 14 hours. We are exhausted and it’s very late. Sabrina’s parent are waiting for us with pizza and drinks, what a warm welcoming! We have dinner, talk a lot and then we go to bed. Yes, if you were wondering about Genesis, she woke up 10 minutes before arriving, she slept almost the whole way here, 12 hours at least! Daaamn, that was a good nap!

It’s July and it’s supposed to be cold, we are in the middle of the winter here. But quite the opposite, we go to the beach (not to swim though) and I’m wearing just a t-shirt. The reason we are in the beach is because it’s whales seeing season and I’m watching at them right now!

Freaking amazing! It’s my first time seeing whales this close and they are huge animals, and very friendly, they get really close to the shore.

Trelew is located 65 km to the south of Puerto Madryn. It’s a very cold and windy city but there’s something very interesting there to see, a palaeontological museum, where the biggest dinosaur ever discover is resting his bones. As you just read, the biggest one ever. My memory tells me that the biggest one is called “Argentinousaurs” (it comes from the word Argentina, I guess you guessed!) and it’s (or it was) enormous! In between 30 and 37 meters long, 70 tons and 15 meters tall. Can you imagine that?

We arrive to the museum, we get a ticket and we ask the woman for a discount, since Sabrina works in the government but the woman at the till tells us no discount can be applied (sad). But, she comes back and says “hey guys, I can’t give you a discount, but since she works in the government, come at 7 pm when the museum closes that I’ll show you something”. We were all stunned and thrilled! What can it be?

We go outside of the museum, we are drinking some mate while eating Torta Frita (google it, you will be amazed) and waiting for 7m.

Time has come! We go back inside the museum and the woman is waiting for us. She starts giving us a tour and the first thing she shows us is a femur of a dinosaur. The bone is, of course, already petrified. It’s around 2 meters (2 fucking meters!) tall and it has a radius of around 30cm, just the femur, I run out of words, I can’t believe how big this thing was!

This femur belongs to the biggest dinosaur ever found, even bigger than the Argentinosaurus! His scientific name is PATAGOTITAN MAYORUM. Scientists calculated it was 8 meters tall and 40 meters long, that’s fucking huge, if you ask me!

The femur being discovered (The scientists is wearing a shirt of one of the best heavy metal bands, fyi)

The lady takes us to the lab, where the scientists do they researches and it’s amazing, she’s showing us many different dinosaurs and bones and things, I’m having goose bumps!

If you were ever wondering, the real dinosaur bones are displayed only in the closest museum. If you see, for instance, a T-Rex in another museum than the original one, it’s a replica. This is because petrified bones are extremely fragile and you don’t want to break one!

We are heading back to Puerto Madryn, not before stopping where a replica of the Argentinosaurus is waiting for us:

This is exactly the same dimensions as the scientists think the real dinosaur was

There are many more stories from Puerto Madryn, but that’s for another post, be tuned!

We have spent 3 weeks here and it’s time to go back home, I need to get ready for the upcoming adventure. We will leave tomorrow early in the morning and I’m packing everything in the truck tonight so we don’t waste time in the morning. While putting things in the back of the truck, my phone falls and the screen gets cracked, shit! Why now? Luckily, my mother in law has an old phone she’s not using, so I replace mine with hers.

It’s morning, we say goodbye and we depart, a long journey back is waiting for us.

After 14 hours, we arrive to Bolivar once again where my parents are waiting for us with food (that’s very common in Argentina, people waiting for you with a lot of food), we have dinner and go to bed.

Remember the phone I broke? I left it in Puerto Madryn in my parents in law house. I had an alarm set up at 6:30am, loud enough to wake an elephant up. What happened? The phone didn’t die, just the screen. The alarm started to ring so loud and they couldn’t turn it off because the screen doesn’t work! They call me saying “you idiot! you left the alarm on!”, and I was laughing my ass off saying “I’m sorry!” hahaha.

Always remember to turn your alarms off! (or not)

Two weeks ago, I presented my resignation letter to my boss. Well, not exactly in person (am I a pussy? nah, I just don’t like doing those things) because there’s an option when you sign it that the post office can deliver the letter for you, for free, so, why not?

By law, in Argentina, the resignation letter has to be sent at least 2 weeks before the day you are quitting

Today is Sunday, my last day at work is tomorrow, my parents are taking me to Buenos Aires this afternoon.

Last days before departure

I arrived to Buenos Aires last night, I couldn’t sleep that good since a tough day is upfront, the last one at the office. I go to the office and not everyone knows that I’m leaving, I’m a person who doesn’t like to be the center of attention. I do the same that I’d do any other day, I prepare mate and I do nothing during the whole day (nah, I always work hard, it’s just today! don’t judge me!).

It’s 3pm, I already went for lunch and since I’m doing nothing, I say goodbye to my coworkers from other countries, I erase all the things in my laptop and I call the help desk guy to give my laptop back. He comes, takes the laptop, checks that everything’s in place and he wishes me the best of lucks and says goodbye.

I’m heading to the door, but before that I go to my old coworkers for the last moments in the office. We have spend many, many hours together and having a good time in here, it’s tough to say goodbye but it’s for a good reason! I started to cry, my feelings are very intense right now, I’ll probably not see this people ever again. I go to HR department, I say hello/goodbye and I leave, with many tears in my eyes and on my face, I’m gonna miss this place. I’ve met very nice people here and I’ll never forget anything! (I’ll probably will, my memory is not my strenght)

There are many stories that happened inside the office, but that’s for another episode!

I’m out of the office and the thought that I don’t have a job anymore is sinking in my head and it makes me sad a little bit, I guess I’m used to the routine? At the very bottom, it’s okay, this is for my own good.

My afternoons are free, I can go rollerblading at any time! Yeah! (I know, again talking about rollerblades). I’m going to visit Lucas, a very good friend of mine who lives almost 10km away from my apartment. I put my rollerblades on and I’m on my way. Near his place, I see a dog running away from its owner. I’m gonna help the owner by trying to catch it, why not? I start chasing it and the dog is going crazy! Full speed, crossing a busy street, almost getting run over by cars… and I’m behind him, almost getting run over by the same cars (just another day at the office). I finally catch it! 15 minutes and 2km after.

The dog is laying down on a park, it’s trying to survive, his heart rate is extremely high. A kid comes to see what’s going on, few neighbors come too and they give me a hand by bringing some water. The dog is not responding, looks like it’s going to die 😭 but no! Slowly it’s getting back to be itself. Few minutes go by, I lift the dog on my arms and ask the neighbors for a veterinarian. They point me out the direction and I start going with the dog on my arms and on rollerblades to the destination. Can you believe that the dog is getting more and more awake and he’s trying to bite me? Motherfucker! I’m trying to help you! Never mind, it doesn’t understand.

I’m near the veterinarian when a car stops next to me and tell me they are the owners of the dog. I explained them what happened and they were very thankful. We put the dog in the trunk (alive…), it’s breathing normally now, fiufff, that was a good save. They leave and I continue to my friend’s house.

I ring the bell at Lucas’s house, he comes to the door to open it, sees me and asks me “Why the fuck are you covered in dog hair and sweating like a pregnant nun?”, “let’s drink some mate, I’ll explain you”. Long story short, we end up laughing and enjoying really good mates with churros.

Here’s a good picture of churros filled with dulce de leche

Remember the Workaway thing I mentioned before? Well, something not that good just happened. Andree, Marie-Ange’s neighbor calls me to tell me that Marie-Ange fell from the first floor of the barn and she’s in the hospital. I ask her if she’s feeling good and how that happened, she tells me that now she’s good, she’s in a Geneva, in the hospital and she need surgery, damn! After talking for a little bit, I ask her if I should search for another place where to go but she insists that I should stay go and take care of the house while Marie-Ange is gone. That was not a good nice call! But she’s fine and that’s what matters.

To celebrate that we are leaving the country, we organize a small party in the apartment inviting all our close friends/family. Picture this: there’s no bed any longer because I sold it to a friend, there’s no TV because I gave it to Sabrina’s father, there’s no desk nor computer because I gave it to Lucas, there’s almost nothing left here! Just a table with few chairs (When I say few, I mean 4 chairs). It’s a small apartment and the living room is not big enough for everyone. Since there’s no more bed, I move the table along with the chairs to the bedroom which is a little bit bigger than the living room.

People starts to come and there’s no enough places where to sit, we start to use anything we can to sit: the door of the wardrobe on top of two chairs for instance, we sacrificed two chairs but 4 people can sit now (priorities…)

I go with two friend to pick some pizzas from a place nearby, we ordered 8 pizzas just in case (it’s the last mean I’m paying to this bitches! just kidding!). Between the jokes, laughs, food and drinks, the night goes by. It’s around 3am, One person drunk quite a bit much for his standards and he manages to go to the bathroom while almost throwing up on the way there. That person is Martin, one of my best friends, he’s fucking drunk! The door is closed and all we can hear are the noises (by noises, I mean he’s throwing up like a pig) coming from within the bathroom, I ask him: “Martin, are you okay?”, few seconds go by and no answer but noises still there. “Let’s check in few minutes”, Sabrina says. We come back and he’s not answering our calls and I kind of yelling say “Martin, we are coming in, you better not be naked motherfucker!”. I open the door, Me and my friends enter the bathroom and there he was, hugging the toilet and throwing up, but alive!

He can barely talk, nevertheless stand on the two legs that his god gave him to walk this earth (and rollerblade). Sabrina and Antonella (another friend) go to a pharmacy to get some medicine to prevent him from throwing up, he hasn’t stopped. In the meantime, Diego, Lucas, Bruno and me, undress Martin and we force him to take a shower to see if that helps a little bit. 15 minutes go by, no news from Sabrina nor Antonella, they didn’t bring the phone with them because Buenos Aires is quite a dangerous place at these hours. I start to panic, Bruno too (Bruno is Antonella’s boyfriend), so we go out of the apartment to try to find them. 50 meters from the apartment, we see both of them coming as nothing happened and talking to each other. We go back to apartment, Martin is already laying down on a mattress and we “force” him to take a pill. I’m opening his mouth while Sabrina is giving him a pill and Antonella is putting water in his mouth, we did it! He already quite stopped throwing up, or at least, making noises. Few minutes later after the pill, he’s feeling better I’d say (I’m not a doctor but… he’s not making noises anymore. He’s definitely feeling better or he’s dead, 50-50 chances).

Another day is here. Martin wakes up around 2pm, still drunk of course and he wants to go to his house. I’m trying to convince him that he should stay because of his state but he’s stubborn as fuck and he laves. An hour passes and I get a text from him saying he arrived safely and he wasn’t raped (yet) (it’s a joke)

The plane is taking off in two days and I haven’t made my suitcase yet, I think I’ll get my hands on it. How long do you think took me to prepare everything? You are right! 30 minutes and I’m ready to leave the city, country and even continent. Few clothes, rollerblades, underwear, socks, an extra pair of shoes and that’s it! I’ll figure out the rest eventually.

Last minutes in Argentina

We are at the airport, my parents along with my sister came to say goodbye, Sabrina’s parents are here also, Martin is here. We are all crying like is the last time we are going to see each other, but it’s not, bitches!

We go to dispatch the suitcases, they give us the boarding passes and we head back to our beloved ones, to say goodbye. I’m crying a lot, I don’t know when I’m going to see my family again! We say goodbye one last time and we go to customs, the plane is waiting.

We go thru customs, thanks to the biometric passport, no need to wait in line, no need to get a stamp, nothing, we just scan the passport in a machine, a door opens and you are not any longer in Argentina. Few minutes go by when they open the gate, we are one of the firsts to get into the plane. I’m amazed by how big the plane is! Keep in mind that this is my first time getting into a plane, to leave the country, to another continent and in a 14 hours flight… quite a baptism, right? I’m kind of scared/afraid, I don’t know to be honest, but I choose the window seat even though I’m scared of heights (well, I don’t think people is scare of height, people is scared of falling and dying, not exactly the height), but that’s how I control it, by facing it and overcoming it. Seat belts on, phone in airplane mode and the plane takes off. I have never experienced such an acceleration! Amazing feeling, and looking at Buenos Aires from above is a whole new experience!

France, here we go! But first, a quick stop in London to take a connecting flight to Geneva.

To be continued…

Leonardo Emmanuel Written by:

My name is Emmanuel. I'm a software engineer traveling around the world. This is my blog in which I'll write about my stories while traveling.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *