Growing up on Long Island, I was lucky enough to live in a very close-knit community. I have so many fond memories from my childhood, from playing outside with my friends all afternoon, to spending quality time with my family in the evenings. These relationships have shaped me into the person I am today, and also made it that much more difficult to leave New York this past September to begin my South American Adventure.
After graduating from college, I wanted to see the world before settling into a long-term career. I chose Argentina, and was so incredibly excited to start my new adventure. With that excitement, however, came a slight feeling of separation anxiety. I feared I would not form the same connections and friendships that I had built my whole entire life in the United States.
I could not have been more wrong.
Once hearing about the opportunities being an au pair in Buenos Aires, I immediately went to work on my applications in hopes of securing a position with a local family. I was quickly placed with the Manes family, who could not have been a more perfect fit. I was welcomed with open arms and treated as a member of the family from the start. Meeting with the children, Manuela and Pedro, was the part of my day that I looked forward to most. I loved playing soccer with Pedro, or putting on pretend concerts and playing beauty salon with Manuela. I also thoroughly enjoyed interacting with Manu and Pepo’s parents, Josefina and Facundo. We would eat dinner together and share our respective traditions and customs. I learned so much from the Manes family, and know for sure that my experience in Argentina would not have been as wonderful had I not met them. They are my local family, my home away from home, and I am so grateful to have them in my life.
My experience as an au pair has been one of the most enriching things I have done in my life, and I will always look back and be so thankful for the people I met and the things I learned. As much as I look forward to seeing my friends and family from the states when I arrive home in the spring, I will miss the Manes family terribly.
5 awesome things you can do when the power cuts in Buenos Aires: (courtesy of our wonderful friends at Foto-ruta)
1. Ice Creamocalypse (use your imagination)
2. Love thy Neighbour as Thyself ( open to interpretation)
3. Light Switch Roulette (you have to wait until it comes back on to find out who won)
4. Mattress surfing down the staircase (aka Blindman’s bluff)
5. Astronomeasy ( as in Astronomy but its easier cause there’s not light.)
Five things to do with the kids with no power
1. Murder in the dark (if the power doesn’t come back on in time for the end of the game then use a candle or a torch)
2. Tell Ghost stories -Use a candle to light up your face to make them even more eery! (remember to be extra safe when using candles and make sure children are kept away from the open flame)
3. drawing in the dark – Get some paper and take turns in nominating an object or thing. You all have to try and draw it in the dark. The winner is announced once the lights come back on!
4. Torch Tag – everyone gets a torch and choose one person to be “It.” The object of the game is for “It” to tag another player by shining their torch on that player.
5. Sleeping Pirate – Choose one player to be the “pirate” and give him a torch. You’ll also need a ball, bucket or other object to represent the “treasure.” The pirate sits at one end of the playing area, with the “treasure” sitting in front of him or her. The other players line up on the other end of the playing area. To play, the players each try to sneak up and steal the “treasure” without tipping off the pirate. If the pirate hears a sound, he shines the torch in that direction. If the flashlight beam tags a player, he must go back to the starting line. The first player to nab the treasure without alerting the pirate becomes the new pirate. (courtesy of Live Strong)
Taking on the opportunity to be an au pair in Argentina is life changing and it should be taken seriously as such.
To be an addition to a family and to be welcomed as a member of their family is such a blessing.
The children are so open to positivity and are impacted greatly through their peers. It’s such an important role as an au pair to influence children through language and expression in a positive and meaningful manner.
It’s a great way to learn about a different culture and interact with people and to realize that the world isn’t so different after all because through the experiences with children from a different background, you end up learning more about yourself than you thought you would. The experience can be mutually personally rewarding for both sides.
Last month the AIA au pairs formed a futbol (soccer) team and joined in on the women’s Sunday evening futbol matches held by BAFA (Buenos Aires Futbol Amigos /http://fcbafa.com/en/). It was a great energetic time of friendly competition followed by an endless Argentine asado or chorizo, asado, cold quilmes and laughter. The au pairs played with their hearts out on the field, some of them it being their first time ever kicking around a pitch (soccer field)! Everyone got a foot on a goal, sweat buckets, and laughed through out!
Argentina is a beautiful country with an incredibly varied landscape. Here at AIA we encourage you to make the most of your time here and see as much of it as possible! If you were hoping to squeeze in weekend city breaks around the country however, unless you’re happy to shell out for plane tickets, unfortunately in a country this size that’s impossible. Córdoba is a 10 hour bus journey, Iguazú is 18 hours, Mendoza 14, Bariloche 22, Salta 19! Definitely go to all these places and more, but take some time and really enjoy yourself when you do. That said, Buenos Aires is a big and bustling city, for those of us who are here for a while a weekend away is exactly what’s needed to refresh and come back full of energy! Here are some of our recommendations for where to escape to for a weekend, 6 hours or less from Buenos Aires.
Tandil- Around 5 hours from Buenos Aires. This is the first place you’ll find any sort of change in the landscape that can justifiably be called a hill when travelling across the plains from Buenos Aires. Famous for cheese and salami, it’s a real rural argentine experience. You can reconnect with nature hiking, horse riding or mountain biking in the hills. For a small town it is also home to more than it’s fair share of museums!
Rosario- 4 hours from Buenos Aires. On the Banks of the River Paraná, it’s a small city that’s bustling with a busy, young student crowd. Rosario has lots of cultural things to see and do, plus it’s the birthplace of the argentine flag and ‘Che’ Guevara, so for a real dose of argentine patriot culture it’s a must go!
Villa Gesell- 6 hours from Buenos Aires. Of all the beach resorts along the coast of Buenos Aires Province, Villa Gesell tends to attract a younger, more hippyish/surfer crowd. It has various camping sites right on the beach if you don’t want to pay peak season prices for accommodation! If you want to lie on the beach all day and enjoy a party at night then this is the beach break for you.
Montevideo- 3 hours from Buenos Aires. The capital of Uruguay, and famous for the carnival in February, it is full of vibrant events all year long. Often compared to Buenos Aires, it’s like a smaller, less over developed sister. It also has the one thing that Buenos Aires is lacking- a beach!
Last weekend, Hannah and I went to Colonia, Uruguay. We were both coming up on 3 months in Buenos Aires –which means time for us expats to leave the country for a day! We decided to go to Colonia because it’s only an hour away via ferry.
We took the midday ferry to Uruguay and found ourselves in the quaint little town of Colonia within the hour. This charming town was complete with cobblestone streets, a view of the sea, and street side cafes around every corner.
We were lucky enough to be in Colonia on a warm, sunny day and we were quickly able to explore the whole town on foot in a couple of hours. Aside from the beach, one of the main attractions was the lighthouse and for a small fee you can climb to the top and enjoy a beautiful view of the town.
Our day in Colonia was relaxing and fun and most importantly we accomplished our mission of renewing our visas!
Hannah Baron and Kate Gantner
ALL PHOTOS COPYRIGHT OF KATE GANTNER
Get a flare for Argentina!
As many may agree, traveling and having the opportunity to live & work abroad is an experience that will enrich and allow you to open up your eyes to the world, in a way that you only dreamt possible before. Once you immerse yourself to a different culture, day by day you learn from your peers, neighbors, friendly vender, the au pair families and children as well.
Not only do you get to teach a different language to the kids, in a fun way; but you also learn so much from them as well. It’s really an interactive and two-way process as both sides are exposed to each ones customs and as an au pair you become familiarized with the activities enjoyed by each particular kid – giving you the space to be a part of the creative mindset of the children and potentially have a bond that grows into a well-nourished, loving relationship you develop with them.
I believe that the main priority of the class has to be that the kids have fun. This way, unconsciously as the weeks and months roll on by, they start acquiring new terms in English and through gestures and consistently pointing and repeating, they begin to get a feel for the language and get progressively better. Being able to see this evolution and the knowledge the kids gain is very rewarding.
One of the girls I took care of in particular, loved to dance and sew – so throughout the classes we learned dance routines, which we later preformed in front of the rest of the family. When I was finished teaching her how to sew, she cheered and with a big smile on her face said that when she was older, she wanted to dedicate her life to doing just that!
Nonetheless, by au pairing, you have the chance of travelling and getting to know new places. The landmarks that you can visit in Argentina are very picturesque and spectacularly eye catching! Personally, I would recommend dashing up to Iguazu Falls (one of the seven wonders of the world) and Northern Argentina is also a must do on the list.
If you love children & want to experience a new culture, visit a new country and surround yourself with incredible people, I would highly recommend taking a chance and getting to know Argentina; as this undoubtedly splendid opportunity – will be one you’ll remember for the rest of your life!
This past AIA event we got our groove on at a local tango school. The dance of Tango is what has made Buenos Aires a hot spot for travelers around the world and in August the world’s largest tango competition and festival takes place in Buenos Aires. People from all over the world to stand in awe at the renown competitors whirling in passion across the dance floor. It is a dance of intimate communication conveyed in the most romantic elegance. When asking a tango dancer friend what it takes to get to a competitive level, she replied at least 5 years of devout practice and of course a passion for the dance. But after one lesson at the tango school the au pairs found themselves gliding across the dance floor at the post lesson milonga. It was a quintessential Buenos Aires night out of tango, laughter, fernet, and making new friends. Check out more pictures from the evening on our facebook page!
When I open the gleaming wooden door to the café on the corner, the warm, enveloping scent of apple pie comes billowing out towards me and into the dirty street. I dump my heavy leather bag onto a chair beside me and sit down next to it, taking in the smell that wraps me like a hug. I like this café; it has a quiet elegance to its ambiance and the best black tea in Buenos Aires. “Sweet Home Alabama” is playing on the radio and the aloof waitress browses her magazine and ignores me. I look around for the source of the apple pie smell- a tart, a cake, anything- but find nothing indicating its existence. That smell ignites the sense of my mother and her amazing pies from somewhere deep inside me, so I sip my milky tea and soak up that essence of comfort and love.
Argentines are hot drink addicts. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t drink either coffee or tea religiously, and usually both. Breakfast each day consists of coffee (with heaps of sugar added) and a cookie or two, usually stuffed with dulce de leche, or caramel. Because lunch is at 1 and dinner isn’t until after 9, the requisite afternoon snack is a survival tactic, so more tea or coffee is needed, as well as a pastry or two. And then comes the post-dinner coffee or tea. I suppose the British influence here must have something to do with this obsession with the hot drinks, and coupled with the Spanish custom of late-night dinners, I’d say a good number of people are sustained solely by coffee and raw sugar for hours at a time.
I must say, I am totally hooked. I now drink about 6-8 cups of tea a day. I have it for breakfast with oatmeal cookies, in the afternoon around 3, in the evening around 7 when my American stomach demands to know where dinner is, and after dinner, and I usually have more than one cup. I know that may sound a little excessive, but I can’t tell you how much I enjoy it. When was the last time you drank tea out of a cup and saucer with proper milk and a crumbly cookie? No giant corporate logos, or gigantic sized muffins, but a warm ceramic cup and hard, sweet cookie. It’s delightful.
Of course, the city is filled with people rushing around with paper cups of coffee, endlessly making deals on their wireless cell phones and not stopping to breathe, but there is also this abundance of little sidewalk and corner cafes, situated just so to offer a little relief from the commotion. A place to drop your bag, sip your tea, and watch the others bustle around in the cold while the light turns more golden. And when I am finally done nursing my tea, I dig the change out of my pockets, hoist my immensely heavy bag back onto my fatigued shoulder, and walk back out into the real world.