There are days when I feel I have all the time in the world and today is one of them. It’s a public holiday in Argentina: 27 years since the Falklands (Malvinas) War; 27 years since I heard my grandfather yelling obscenities at the TV… whether at Maggie or at Galtieri I am not certain; 27 years since Carlos was on the reserve list… if it hadn’t come to an end when it did, he would have been among the next to go.

Because it is a holiday here, I can’t do any of the things I would be doing if it wasn’t a holiday. At 7 tomorrow morning I’ll be doing them. Today I’m gathering strength.

I’ve come to an internet cafe in Las Cañitas where to get an @ symbol you have to press ALT then 6 then 4… but at least the music is fairly quiet. My laptop broke on Sunday night and is now out beyond the Gral Paz autopista waiting for the holiday to be over: I might hear next week what blew up. You know, it isn’t easy for me to explain how I feel to be without my laptop in this life in another land: I will just use one word and you will have to believe me that I am not being in the least dramatic, just honest: lost.

I thought about not blogging until I get the laptop back. Then I decided I would, because maybe you are wondering if I’m still smoke free, or whether I ever did get my visa renewed. So what if I can’t use Windows Live Writer like I normally do. So what if there won’t be any photos. So what if I have to recheck the spelling and sense a million times because the letters have rubbed off the keyboard I’m using.  Sometimes you just have to make do. Even the fact that it is pouring with rain is gifting me a few indoor hours. Today.

Yesterday it was different. Time mattered. And it went like this:

6.00am Friend from UK phones, forgetting that there are now 4 hours between us. I’m guessing that it was 6am because I didn’t look and it was still dark outside. Afterwards I drift in and out of dreams: I seem to see everyone who is in my life right now. I tell Carlos. He says, They are here to help you, to give you strength. I say, I hope so.

7.30am My Spanish/English translator phones. Can we meet downstairs so that she can redo the translations she has already done and get them to the Colegio de Traductores at 9am? (The night before, I spotted several errors in the names… Sally had somehow become Rally.) I get dressed and take the papers to her.

10.00am The translator phones again. She has the translations. Can we meet in Plaza de Mayo? On the way I make myself go into a church I pass, and say a prayer, for strength.  At around 11am she hands me the new certified documents. I walk down 25 de Mayo and eventually find a ‘locutorio’ without a massive queue. I get the pages copied. I walk to Migraciones. Maybe I should have taken a taxi to save time but the traffic was stationary: perhaps it was because of streets closed off around Congreso – Raul Alfonsin, who was the first President of Argentina after the Military Rule, was lying in state and people were flocking to pay their respects. I even stop for a coffee and medialunas because I know that I will need energy to face the immigration queues – I see Alfonsin’s body on TV. It reminds me I am still smoke free and so hopefully a step further away from my own death.

12.00noonish I arrive at Migraciones and manage to get in. I feel upbeat. I am sure that I have all the required papers and that I may get the 6 months (notice that I have already accepted I will not get the 12 months, I will be grateful for 6) on my visa. When the woman tells me that there are no more numbers for ‘Prorrogas’ (the section I need), I am struck dumb (the previous week at this time there were numbers). I am sure my mouth opens and shuts a few times as I stare at her. Brick wall like, she waves me away. I stand in the corner and face away from the people while I  regroup. I return to her, voice unsteady, What time do I have to come tomorrow to get a number? No, she says, not tomorrow. It’s a holiday. I realise I am looking at Friday. It’s the last day of my visa, I say, please tell me how I can get a number. Come at 7.30am, she says. Look for me. It will be ok. I remember the crowds, the lines in the street, the security guards, the chaos.

1.00pm I go and stand in the ‘Prorrogas’ section and torture myself for a moment by looking longingly at the desks. It’s full of people renewing their tourist visas. They are in the same section as me. I try really hard to feel generous, but oh hell I wish they’d all gone to Uruguay and given me a chance of a number today. Maybe one of them will give up and leave before their turn and I can beg for their number. I wait an hour. No-one leaves. So eventually I do. I feel shit. I walk back to Retiro through the most horrendous traffic (juggernauts) on the huge carriageways I have to cross. I am breathing horrible fumes, but they are not smoke fumes… I am no longer reaching for cigarettes to numb my frustration, just digging deeper into my own resources.

3.00pm I’m in Belgrano, which is a long way from Retiro, looking at the prices of mini Notebooks as I never want to be without a computer again. I reckon they are about 100 quid dearer in Argentina than in Britain, but I am seriously considering one. Can’t buy though because my new Visa card is still stuck in the UK (you know even DHL won’t ship a Visa card) so I’ll have to withdraw 4 lots of cash on 4 different days to have enough.

5.00pm I’m home and Argentina is losing to Bolivia in the World Cup qualifier. Carlos tells me about his attempts to obtain a $9peso refund on his cracked Monedero Subte card: he had to go all the way to Tribunales to the refund office but in the end did not succeed because he wasn’t carrying his ID card. He is in a bad mood but it fires him up. Let me ring the laptop extended warranty people for you, he says. Having to wait three days for someone to call is ridiculous. He grabs the phone. Eventually they tell us where to take the laptop.

6.55pm After an hour on the 15 bus we are running along a street in Olivos (beyond the Gral Paz highway) to reach the ‘PC Fixer’ by 7pm. We arrive as the guy is turning off the lights. He serves us. I want to hug him. Me and C. are smiling as we head back towards the motorway to catch the ‘colectivo’. Thanks for making us get here in time, I say. Minutes mattered today. I lost some this morning and so couldn’t get my visa, but now look at us… we made it in time. The day turned around. I couldn’t have done that without you. I wouldn’t have had a clue where to get off the bus… We laugh.

8.00pm We get home to find that Argentina lost to Bolivia 6-1. Now there were two halves of 45 minutes each, that mattered to a few people. We both agree that whatever our days were like, Maradona’s was probably worse.

To be honest, in the calm of today and remembering those who lost their lives in the Falklands, I’m simply happy that I’ve got a tomorrow at all, whatever it brings. 

Even so, if you’re awake at 7.30am Buenos Aires time in the morning, do send me a positive vibe: as I stand in the street outside Migraciones on the day my temporary residency visa expires, I might just be needing it.

8 Replies to “Time”

  1. Hi Sally

    It sounds like hell! Hang in there … warm vibes coming your way (yes still reading your blog still admiring your journey.. )


  2. Guys thanks.

    Unfortunately I didn’t get any extension at all.
    Up at 6. There at 7.30. Got in. Got a number – number 3 (encouraging).
    Had all the papers as requested and my situation definitely meets the requirements for the next six months, but alas the woman who dealt with me two weeks ago had neglected to mention that the critical document, which my parents had since DHL-ed to me at vast expense, needed the Apostille of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (ie. needed legalisation in the UK – FCO Public Counter now in Milton Keynes I believe). Without it, it was useless.

    I wanted to punch the woman on the nose, but of course in these type of situations you have take a deep breath instead because you might be back in front of the same woman next time round.

    Actually though, just for today, if I can avoid ever having to go back to that place again, I will.

    Didn’t smoke.
    Thinking it over.
    Considering my options.
    But in the short term I’ll probably be leaving Argentina and visiting Uruguay for at least a day, sooner than I’d hoped.
    Just a bit of a shame I wasted quite a bit of money and mucho time getting right back to the beginning eh?

    Am sure I’ll feel like smiling again soon!
    Till then, thx for thinking of me. I really do appreciate it.


  3. Well that sucks. The only thing I can think of though is that maybe it’s supposed to be like this. Maybe you will have an amazing adventure in Uruguay or see something that you didn’t even know you needed to see… who knows life is a funny thing. I’m sure you will be smiling again soon as well.


  4. Ah Sal

    Lets do the math.
    Day from hell + Not Smoking = Positive

    Red tape – critical document = bummer + trip to Uruguay = Adventure + C = Romantic Adventure ? Positive?

    Rotten situation + nose on woman’s face – hit = if not good Karma then definately not bad, = Positive

    Ok the moneys a drag, but you were just gong to spend it anyway… Is there a tickle of a smile there yet?

    Sending you good warm fuzzy thoughts for a good weekend. 🙂


  5. Oh Sal. Keep going – the world will turn around you and put you back in the right place again soon, I know. Will email more – but love from us all …

    Jo x

  6. Hello again my wonderful support network – from today’s BsAs internet cafe!

    Your positive optimistic comments made me smile. It’s like I’m listening to my own ‘best Sally voice’ – meant to be right? Exactly. I am always saying that there is a reason for everything, and I am certain that in the longer term, the reason here will be more than me learning that any foreign document requires an Apostille from the FCO 😉
    Today I feel a bit bruised from the whole experience and VOD is trying hard to tell me that ‘I should have known better. All this should have been obvious to me. I should have done x, or y, or z differently… ‘
    But yes I have to believe that I am on exactly the path that I am meant to be on, and that gradually the fog will clear. One day I’ll be looking back and saying… yeah well if that hadn’t happened I wouldn’t have done/found/learned/seen…

    You know one thing already is that I have been granted a glimpse into the reality of what it is like for would be immigrants – and I’m not talking about me, but rather about the hundreds of hopeful faces I met in queues along the way. Maybe I have alternatives. Others maybe do not.
    It’s made me think alot about this whole theme of immigration (that exists away from the eyes of the average person), and not just in Argentina – throughout the world. Have you ever seen the very grim film, ‘Children of Men’? I have now seen in a small way how we could all too easily arrive at certain unpleasant circumstances and behaviours shown in that film (and that was set in Britain) – and maybe in some places that I have not yet been, we already have. It is all food for thought.
    Through my efforts to get this visa right from the start over a year ago, I’ve been shown stuff well outside of any of my previous experience. And at times it made me feel very uncomfortable. That is never a bad thing. Most of all it has forced me to think about other people, and how fortunate I actually am.

    Christine – Yes, you are right. I am sure it is supposed to be and I will look forward to the next adventure 😉

    mj – Love the sums! You can make it all positive eh? Just like me with making everything add up to 11 – I like that sort of logic. Whatever happens of course the answer is positive. I agree!!! Ta for reminding me 😉

    Jo – Well along the way our darling mum learned what DHL is!!! Seriously tho’ just the fact I was trying to get it right meant that I spoke to her nearly every day for a week which was a joy in itself. Now there’s something positive to celebrate! 😉

    Just thanks guys for letting me know you are with me.
    So much.


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