Missing things and missing out

Argentina is most definitely still in holiday-mode: it’s summer vacation here, a good number of the shops still have their shutters closed, and everyone who can afford to is off on the beaches of Uruguay. I’ve been working a lot more than I’d like to admit the last two weeks. Technically I still have a suntan, but I think it’s fading.

Balancing work and life has always been troublesome for me. I tend towards workaholicism on my best days, and it’s certainly not uncommon for me to put in a sixty-hour work week. I’ve gotten better: I almost always take most of the weekend off now, and I’m trying as much as possible to go out and about at least a little bit every day. I’ve realized that I’m simply not going to see as much of this continent as I’d like to while I’m here.

With all the shutters closed, you really get to see the lovely graffiti that covers the buildings here.

But I’ve got new projects coming in all the time, and work is (for the most part) going well. I wish I were doing more personal projects, but that isn’t anything new. I had signed up for the Sketchbook Project some time ago, and now the deadline’s looming. I’ve given up on getting mine done, in part because I totally lack art supplies and they’re on the expensive side here, and in part because I simply lack time. I’d rather spend my free time exploring this massive city or trying to pick back up on my Spanish, which is just terrible. (Porteños speak the most insane version of Spanish I’ve ever heard, complete with its own special pronoun and verb conjugation, strange pronounciations, and some kind of crazy pig-latin. I’m totally lost.)

I’ve put my snarky Valentine’s cards back on my Etsy site this year. Last year, I finished them too late to really get any sales, so I’m hoping they may fare better this year. Before I left Canada, I had a quick adventure in cut-paper cards as well. I made this intricate card for a friend’s birthday and remembered why I hated doing cut-paper work: it’s time-consuming and frustrating! But I was so pleased with the end result, now I’d like to start making more of them. When I return home, it might be time to build a laser cutter.

Cut-paper card
If you can read Spanish, you'll recognize that the text is a little on the sappy side. And if you look closely, you can tell that I very badly needed a new knife blade, but didn't have one.

That’s one major thing I miss about being home: having all my supplies and tools at the ready, whenever I need them. Art supplies are expensive here, and I simply can’t bring everything with me. (I also forgot a whole bunch of things, like my camera, and have lost other things, like my phone.) It’s always the little things that you miss. In Argentina, I miss my lovely friends, my art supplies, pepper mills (you’re lucky if you can get powdered pepper), good service at restaurants, and easy wireless access. I miss a variety of foods: Argentine menus are always about thirty pages long, but the selection is surprisingly limited: you can get thirty different kinds of steak, twenty variants of a ham and cheese sandwich, and meat empanadas. Spice is basically unheard of.

Of course, there’s so much to offset that. Buenos Aires is beautiful and vibrant. There aren’t any huge grocery stores, so to buy food you need to go to six different markets and bakeries, which are on every corner and open strange hours. The wine is ridiculously cheap and the produce is all fresh. I may be eating the same thing day in and day out, but it’s cheap and delicious, and rather unprocessed.

Buenos Aires Subte Linea A
Linea A of the Subte is full of these old cars from the early 1900s. The interior is all wood and leather, and they creak like mad. It's like stepping back in time to the golden days of underground mass transit.

There’s so much of this city—and the continent around it—for me to explore, and I’ve nearly been here a month already. I just need to stop working so much, and start seeing it!