“Cambio! Cambio!” Tom and I nervously walked down Florida Street in Buenos Aires stereotyping the hawkers as we tried to select which person was least likely to rip us off. There were hundreds to choose from and meanwhile the weight of thousands of US dollars in cash felt heavy next to Tom’s groin. For the first time on our trip we decided to actually use the RFID scan-proof money belt we bought from REI.
We selected our guy and after a brief negotiation for the best rate based on the amount and the denomination of bills we brought (with $100 bills being the most valuable), we followed him into a building, up a few floors, to a small, unmarked 6x6 foot office.
We entered the tiny room. There was no sign, no pictures, and no furniture; just an overweight, slightly sweaty Argentinian man with a stash of cash, an electronic bill counter, and a calculator. The windows were covered by old newspapers; papers that probably reported the ever decreasing value of the Argentinian peso and next to it the unofficial “blue market” exchange rate.
I love you, but my time away from you has been the best thing for our relationship. As it’s said, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and my appreciation for you has grown during this year abroad. I miss your peanut butter, your Heinz ketchup, and your widespread availability of toilet seat covers in public restrooms. For many reasons, you are beautiful just the way you are.
However, there’s another saying, which is “out of sight, out of mind.” And during many of my days of travel this year, I found myself fully forgetting you, spending my days and nights in the arms of others: France, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Argentina, and the list goes on. It has given me some healthy perspective and while I wish to someday return to your warm embrace, there are a few things I will need you to work on first.
So for the 2014 year, I recommend you adopt these 5 New Year’s Resolutions:
I'm Jaime. My husband is Tom. Suburbanites, backpackers, and expats...we've been them all!