argentine visa

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IMGP4326 When you’ve got a fortnight to go until your flight to London takes off from Argentina (6 weeks in Blighty fast approaching), you don’t feel too delighted that your Argentine tourist visa is about to expire.

To stay legal (important to me) for your final two weeks you either have to spend God only knows how long and $300pesos to renew the visa in Migraciones in Avenida Antartida, or you have to leave the country pronto. Since I recently promised myself that I would never again sit across the Migraciones counters from the lovely folk who turned down my temporary residency visa renewal (just doing their jobs I know), I considered the option of a $150peso day trip to Uruguay. Course I’ve already had the pleasure of overnighters on similar missions with C. but this time I was going it alone. Ah well, I mused, gives me the chance to road test a Buquebus City Tour of Colonia for the section Time off tango in my forthcoming book Happy Tango in Buenos Aires, for this blog, and for anyone who might ask me about it in the future. Always a bright side right?

Monday was the day.  I hoped for blue skies and warmth to accompany my three hour each way boat ride and camera happy wanderings around cobbled Uruguayan streets.

Sunday in Buenos Aires we had weather like this…

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and that was just after the worst which looked like this…

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and by Monday morning at 7.30am when I was walking the half a kilometre from the 152 bus stop to the boat terminal in Puerto Madero, ice had turned to water and God was tipping buckets of it on my head. As I faced the immigration officer checking my passport for a current tourist visa ($300pesos fine if he didn’t find one), my feet were squelching in my socks, my hair was plastered to my head, and my puffa coat of fluffed up feathers had turned into a wet blanket.

The blanket got wetter: 500 teenagers on the boat; 1000 parents meeting them in a covered Buquebus terminal porch about as big as an average sized British front room; me fighting my way through the hugging and kissing bodies (note swine flu warnings being completely and utterly ignored) a total of five times due to a string of misunderstandings about where I was to find the bus on which I was to take my City Tour… I’m afraid that by about 1pm I was spitting the F-word under my breath far too often, and desperately wanting to scream, Urug – whhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? like a hyena. Or murder someone.

Thing is it wasn’t the weather, or the kids, or the Buquebus staff. It was me. Starting to feel a bit stressy about leaving Argentina and making the trip to the UK, even though I long to hug my family; finding an unexpected (writing books is far harder than I ever imagined it would be) third redraft of my book heavy going, even though I know it’s an essential and transformational draft, and putting pressure on myself to get it done before I fly to England; feeling that the trip to Uruguay was wasting my precious writing time, even though it allowed me six hours of redrafting on the boat and so didn’t really impact my schedule at all… oh gosh, and a few other equally rather ridiculous things besides.

Will I ever feel relaxed before a journey around the world from one of my home lands to the other?

This time, for the first time, I don’t have a physical home in Britain; I’ll be staying with friends and family. This time I don’t have my own car; I’ll be borrowing now and again. This time I’ll be spending most of my time in a part of the country where I’ve not lived since I was 17. Newness, change, the unknown… exciting, scary, exciting, scary…

Barbie: Hey Sallycat! Isn’t it gonna be AMAZING to swim in the Pembrokeshire sea and sing Debbie Harry songs on the Karaoke computer game with your little sisters?

VOD: Start panicking Sal. You’ll miss Buenos Aires sooooo much. How will you feel when you can’t sleep at 4am and there are no cafès or tango salons open in the whole of England, or the part of England you’ll be in anyway? And I know you don’t wander out into the Buenos Aires night in search of coffee, but you could if you wanted to right? Well, in England you won’t be able to, EVER!

Barbie: We’re gonna dance tango in London, and Bramshaw, and Burley and Shrewsbury! Dance, dance, dance little Sallycat, wherever you go!

VOD: Britain will put travel restrictions on people coming from Argentina because the swine flu is getting out of hand, and you won’t even get into the country, na na na naaaaaaa na!

Barbie: UK. OK? UK! OK! UKOKUKOKUKOK… YOU IN THE UK!!! 24th JULY! OK?

God, sometimes it feels like World War bloody Three between my ears.

Anyone else know what I mean?

Actually, seeing it written down reminds me that I know what I mean. I felt like it last time too, but far worse, and I survived. Seeing it written down is making me laugh aloud too. Recently I was talking to someone about how when we recognise a pattern of our own behaviour that we don’t like, we can stop it and change just by stopping it and changing it. There’s nothing hard about it. We just have to stop doing what we’ve always done. And behave a different way instead. Today VOD was trying to convince me that because I’ve got so much to do on the book draft, and so much to do to get ready for the trip, I’ve got no time to write a blog post. Well I’ve just proved him wrong, and that’s a great start. One step in the right direction is all I need to move out of panicked paralysis. And as I sign off here, I’ve already taken it.

I’m afraid this is clearly not one of those well thought out posts. It’s one of those ‘start somewhere and end where you’re meant to’ posts.  You know, the ones where I sometimes say, Thanks for listening.

Thanks for listening my friends,

from Sallycat, Barbie and VOD.

PS. And here’s the why in Urug-why, because like I said, there’s always a bright side. I got a brand spanking new tourist visa and after the sun came out on a most interesting City Tour, I took some super pics with my Pentax. Here they are in a lovely Flickr photoset called Day Trip to Uruguay.

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