One of the key reasons we moved to Argentina for the school year was to expose the kids to life beyond the Walmart consumerism of capitalist North America. We were looking for a reasonable balance -- for their first real exposure -- of relative comfort and relative simplicity.
Buenos Aires has running water, paved roads and McDonalds (dare I confess I succumbed to said beast in a moment of desperation on our second day here and -- despite rarely if ever dining there back home -- bought the kids some chicken nuggets?!) But it also has about 11 brands of cereal at the grocery store instead of a thousand and fifty-three, and no chart boards or smelly markers at even the biggest, flagship Staples. Shanty towns are a reality. The subway is cheap (about 30 cents a ride, depending on your exchange rate), lineups are slow, graffiti prevails, children beg in the streets downtown, green space is limited, people are friendly and plentiful (even in the "suburbs"), ice cream shops abound, and"peanut butter" (sort of) is available at a premium cost at the health food store. We have heated floors, a flying pan that sticks and an unusable cheese grater. The zoo is free for children under 12, and reasonably priced for adults. Depending on how we prioritize our weekly cash budget and where we shop, life here is affordable enough that we can buy fresh flowers once a week.
So, while I had intended to learn to make do with less, I am finding there are many comforts of home and more. Heated floors? AWESOME!!!
I am also learning what is important to me: I nearly cried tears of joy when I found whole oats at a little shop near the botanical gardens yesterday. We still haven't figured out how to turn on the gas oven, so have been cooking everything on the stove (also gas). And I never thought I would so desperately lust after a decent cheese grater!!!
I've been reading the blog of a fellow teacher, an American, who lived "on the road" with her family for about five years. (She, too, has twins.) They biked everywhere, so living simply was essential.
A major theme on her blog is letting go and living without all the "stuff". And, while I admire and respect this woman, I GOTTA HAVE MY CHEESE GRATER!!! ;-P Happily, we are meeting a porteno this afternoon whom we hope to grill up about where to get a pot, frying pan and decent cheese grater at a reasonable price here in Buenos Aires!