We had some great tips from friends that had already experienced an international move, especially regarding items that you need to bring with you as opposed to packing - just to make life a little easier:
- Proof of car insurance (if you had a car) such as your policy. This will help when you're applying for car insurance in the US, they like you to have continuous coverage.
- Shot records for everyone in the family, recent medical records for anyone undergoing any sort of medical treatment. It helps to have medical records for your little ones too, so that they can get up to speed with a new pediatrician without overlapping care.
- Checkbook. We hadn't written checks outside of our yearly taxes since leaving the US, this was one that we almost forgot about. You need it if closing on house, or for all of those little expenses when starting up your new life (school registration fees, school uniforms, law mowing service, etc)
- All identity documents, Social Security cards, birth certificates, marriage license and the like. You never know what the DMV, post office or other random agency will request.
Considering that most everything I just listed makes it sounds like we had a boring, mundane, work-focused week, it was actually quite exciting. Our last week in Argentina sums up many of the reasons that I loved living there.
Starting out the weekend, we woke up early to help the new owners of our couch move it to their truck. Outside of our front window, there is an upsidedown pickup truck, which had hit one of the city buses you see in the photo. Not that I loved horrible accidents, but there was always something going on out the front window.
Like the time a Fernet truck overturned and people ran out into the street at 5:00am to steal bottles of the popular liquor.
Or when it flooded.
Or when a helicopter landed on the street.
Or once a year when the mounted patrols would parade by on hundreds of horses.
Or once a year when there was a huge fireworks show.
You get the picture.
We continued the weekend by attending a wedding. This was our second wedding in Argentina, and as with the first, it is an all night affair. This combines a few of my favorite things. The fact that we could go to an all night wedding (with which we stayed in a hotel because we had a big week of moving ahead and needed to get some sleep) and know that our kids were safe and having a great time with our wonderful empleada, Candy. She gladly stayed the night in our half-empty, totally disheveled home with both of our kids and acted as if it were an honor to be asked to do so. We miss her terribly.
The wedding was also great. Lots of food, lots of friendly people and plenty of last-minute-Spanish practicing before we left.
Then Monday came, and Gretchen attended her last week of school. On my way to pick her up, I was stopped on the street by Dennis Rodman. Yep. Rodman reached out his massive wingspan arm to stop me and tell me that I looked too serious and needed to lighten up. Not that I'm in the habit of taking life advice from The Rod, but he had a point - I mean, I was walking down the street within touching distance of this enormous, recognizable guy speaking English and I had no idea until he stopped me.
I love that you just never know who you're going to run into on the street. This was just one celebrity sighting that we had during our stay, others consisted of John Malkovich, Mike Tyson, Britney Spears, Madonna's children and posse (not the Material Girl herself), Ringo Starr and now, Dennis Rodman. Two thumbs up.
As the packers were going through the house, we tried to keep Gretchen as occupied as possible. It's pretty sad to watch your things be packed away and your house become an empty shell. Traumatizing even. So, she spent time with friends doing super fun things. Like going on this amazing picnic with Candy and her family. They made her fruit salad, delicious homemade cupcakes, sandwiches and the entire family (all four children and parents) took both of our kids to the park. They even went to the much further calesita park because it's what Gretchen wanted. Could they be any nicer?
The hotel was incredible and even better, it was 3 blocks from our apartment. I loved that we could go out to a fancy brunch or sit and have a drink at their beautifully decorated bar and it was a 5 minute walk away. I also loved that we could pay in pesos and spend as much as we would at a normal restaurant in the US.
I also love that we saw, and met, James Hetfield from Metallica on his way to the gym. Gretchen gave him a flower that she had picked. He was a nice guy.
We got stuck in a rainstorm as I scrambled to get the last 2 vaccines needed to get the chicos up to date on their shots before we left.
I did not love getting stuck in the rain over a mile from home.
I did not love the cab drivers waving their angry little fingers at me telling me that no, they are not interested in my dripping wet stroller in their car.
I do love that we walked home, in the pouring rain, with no gear and Gretchen thought it was hilarious. I think living in Argentina has taught all of us to be more tolerant when things aren't perfect. Sometimes you need to just go with the flow, walk for awhile in the rain while your daughter's school uniform shields your 6 month old from the downpour.
I love that as a foreigner, I was able to make such nice friends and even though it was hard for us to communicate at times, they still included me in their mom group.
To that point, here is Gretchen with Candy's son Ale on the way to the airport to catch our flight. That's right, Candy and three of her children accompanied us to the airport to say farewell. So incredibly thoughtful. To add to the sweetness, Gretchen and Ale held hands on the way and then both fell asleep in their seats. We are so lucky to have gotten to know this family, and Gretchen and Alex's early childhood was enriched by having Candy (and her family) in our lives.
It's hard to describe why we loved living in Argentina, there were so many reasons, but our last week summed up many of them in one 7-day package.