November 2014 I, with two suitcases in my luggage and a laptop in my carry-on luggage, went on the route Moscow - Buenos Aires. Not on vacation, but in emigration. I was 27 years old. I had never been to Argentina before and did not know anyone there. At the Vnukovo airport, my parents saw me off with such faces, as if I flew to Mars, where by definition it is impossible to live. And I burned bridges behind me. Recklessness gave wings and strength.
The decision to "blame" was not spontaneous, it has been painfully growing in me for the past few years. The socio-political course chosen by the Kremlin and (why deceive yourself?) By the overwhelming majority of compatriots, 200% contradicted my ideas about humanity, justice and adequacy. We were not on our way. I had to choose from three points: to stay, endure, complain and indulge myself with illusions; fight with the smallest chances of success; go away and try everything from scratch in a more suitable place for me. I chose the third one.
The hardest and most offensive thing was to part with your favorite job and career ambitions. I decided to become a journalist in the fifth grade, and right after university I was lucky enough to get on the newly opened Dozhd TV channel, where I went from a trainee girl who wrote for the morning news to a correspondent in the author's program Pavel Lobkov. From a professional point of view, it was an incredibly cool four years that I will always remember with a smile. But then, one by one, my closest friends departed from Moscow to different countries. And once I caught myself thinking that apart from work in my life there is nothing else - emptiness. And I was scared.
By chance, even in my first year at the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow State University, I began to learn Spanish. Over time, it turned into a passion that spread to the entire yellow-red kingdom and Latin America - history, literature, painting, cinema, music. I became a real fan. I have traveled to Spain many times, so my first thought was: "That's it, I'm moving to Madrid or Seville." But, having critically assessed their financial capabilities and the prospects of a long-term struggle for documents, with tears in their eyes, this plan had to be abandoned.
Thanks to my work in the news, I had a general idea of what awaits me in each of the countries of Latin America. And I chose for myself the safest, European and suitable for the climate - I was not ready for the tropical heat and exotic insects. It turned out to be Argentina. As in most countries in the region, Russians do not need a visa here in the first six months. With income, at least for the first time, the issue was resolved: remote work turned up very well for a small Moscow magazine writing about architecture and design. While I was buying a ticket, looking for a room in Buenos Aires over the Internet and finding out all the details of everyday Argentine life, it was not at all scary. Anxiety overtook me about three weeks before departure. And as a sedative and a guide to local slang, I revisited almost entirely my favorite childhood TV series - "Wild Angel" with Natalia Oreiro in the title role.
While the plane was landing, I looked with interest through the window through the lights of Buenos Aires, which I knew exclusively from the novels of Julio Cortazar, several films and the stories of Argentine acquaintances living in Italy. In Moscow it was late autumn and the first snow, but here the night met me with a warm spring rain. When in the morning I reached the city center, went out near the obelisk and saw jacaranda in the lilac mist of flowers, I realized that this is love at first sight and I can never live without this city again.
I was reminded of Carrie Bradshaw, who went on dates in New York. For the next few weeks, after finishing work, I wandered around Buenos Aires for hours.Colorful port La Boca, dilapidated colonial San Telmo, aristocratic Parisian Recoleta, Italian Palermo, designer Puerto Madero - each district has its own face, smells, inhabitants, sounds, habits and customs. And, fortunately, there is no typical infill development.
And Buenos Aires is a city with a rich cultural life for zero pesos. The number of free museums, exhibitions, performances, festivals, concerts and film screenings for everyone is amazing. And this is not on the occasion of the anniversary of independence or the day of the city - this is always the case here.
I realized that this is love at first sight and I can never live without this city again
I can say with complete confidence that Buenos Aires is no more dangerous than Moscow. As with any big city, there are areas in the Argentine capital where it is best not to show up at night. Of course, there are local specifics. The country has high duties on any imported equipment, so cameras, computers and mobile phones are many times more expensive than in Europe and the United States. New iPhones, which many tourists like to carry in their hands and demonstrate to the public, will certainly be noticed by pickpockets - thieves will try to pull them out. The same goes for expensive accessories: it is not customary for locals to display wealth.
Come in large numbers
After the first few months passed and it became obvious that I was planning to stay in the country, and perhaps for the rest of my life, I began to be afraid to hear in my address: "Come in large numbers here!" But my fear was completely unfounded. Today's Argentines are seventy percent descendants of Italians and Spaniards who moved overseas in the first half of the 20th century. They still remember the great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers who came to seek their fortune in the New World. Therefore, new migrants are treated with understanding and without negativity.
To make temporary documents, I went to finish my Spanish studies at the University of Buenos Aires - the largest and most famous in the country. It was useful, inexpensive and eligible for a four-month student visa that could be renewed from level to level.
I didn’t expect anything good from the first trip to the migration service. And I was discouraged when an hour later I successfully passed all the documents and I was never naughty. The building where all this took place was, until the 1950s, a "hotel for emigrants." Here stayed those who, upon arrival, had absolutely nowhere to go. Part of the hotel was preserved as it was at the time and turned into a museum. Bunk beds, shared toilets, showers, dining room, a huge collection of forgotten, lost and abandoned personal belongings and documents. Here, thousands of foreigners fell asleep with dreams of a happy future in their new homeland, and mothers lull their children with lullabies in Italian, Spanish, German, Polish, Ukrainian and Russian. On the ground floor there is an archival department where you can find out if relatives were listed here, and even find out the exact date and name of the ship on which they arrived in Argentina.
Most Argentines are sociable and family people. They easily invite guests, introduce them to friends, relatives and maintain close relationships with numerous second cousins and fourth cousins. The locals love to eat and hang out. They are musical, athletic, great at cooking and always ready to try something new.
It is almost impossible to run into rudeness here, but forgetfulness and carelessness are in the order of things. Fast, clear and high quality is not about the locals. It is pointless to be offended and angry: you need to either keep everything under personal control, or learn to score. Football and politics are equally passionate. Dissatisfied in Argentina immediately take to the streets, untouchable politicians do not exist. And the right to be yourself, to live, to love and to look the way you want is inviolable.
Psychologically, Argentines are still much closer to Italy and Spain than neighboring countries. People under the age of 35 are considered almost adolescents.They still easily ask their parents for money, even if they live separately, manage to start and leave several higher educations and do not worry about this at all, confident that they still have absolutely everything ahead of them.
Old age as such does not seem to exist. In Buenos Aires, it’s normal to retire and happily do whatever you didn’t have enough time to do: learn to sing, dance tango, paint, or play in amateur theater. In Pilates classes, Argentine retirees are tied in such spectacular knots that age seems like an illusion. I haven't heard from anyone here: “Well, my time has passed. Where are we going? Health is not the same …”The Argentines have it all, and it seems they are not going to die at all.
It is almost impossible to run into rudeness here, but forgetfulness and carelessness are in the order of things
Without exception, all my friends and acquaintances in Buenos Aires are actively involved in sports and go to psychologists, and for years, most often from school. According to statistics, Argentina has the most practicing psychologists per capita in the world. And if the United States, for example, is the leader in the consumption of antidepressants, then the Argentines in 99% of cases get by with regular conversations with specialists. At first I laughed at this local habit, then I asked about its reasons, in the end I wrote a big report about it and got hooked myself. Now every Thursday I come to Beatrice's office, sit in a dark turquoise velvet chair and try to calmly deal with the herds of cockroaches in my head. After six months of therapy, I began to feel a serious positive effect. Psychological services in Argentina are big business, but you can always find a specialist not only for a moderate fee, but also, in an emergency, completely free of charge.
Moving to another country and radically changing everything, I was ready for the fact that my standard of living would temporarily decrease and for several years I would have to switch to economy mode. In addition, modern Argentina is completely unsuitable for those seeking to make big bucks. Wealthy families here are almost always those that continue the business founded by previous generations.
Life in Buenos Aires is not cheaper than Moscow. This was especially felt with the arrival of the new president, Mauricio Macri. His government, against the background of 40% inflation, significantly increased the prices for gas, electricity, water, travel and food. The opposition and trade unions are trying to slow down this process, but so far not very successfully.
I take on any journalistic and editorial work that is offered to me, and also work as a private guide for Russian-speaking tourists - I love Buenos Aires and I love showing it to travelers.
“Argentines are awfully long. They meet for five or seven years before the wedding,”several Russian girls living in Buenos Aires warned me at once. I was not eager to get married urgently, so the forecast suited me perfectly. At first I knew very few people in the city, and texting on Tinder was fun. There were only three dates. The latter happened in February 2015. Buenos Aires was hit by a tropical summer rain that evening, and the city center was closed due to a large opposition march, which I managed to jump on. All cafes, pizzerias and coffee shops were packed full of people wanting to hide from the rain.
Franco came on a date: 28 years old, beautiful Instagram, by profession - a director. After long wanderings through the puddles, we came across some strange completely empty bar in the colonial area of San Telmo. The ceiling was leaking in several places, the bartender was talking enthusiastically with his friend. There were no other visitors besides us. Having ordered a bottle of wine, we went to a distant table, where we quietly chatted until morning. And exactly a year later we got married in the registry office on the top floor of the shopping center, from where a gorgeous view of one of the main attractions of the city - the Recoleta cemetery, where I regularly take tourists, opened up.
The question of whether I remain was resolved by itself.For two years of my life in Argentina, I have a beloved husband, a large Argentine family, an adored dachshund named Simon, a new job and a clear realization that I have found a suitable place for myself on the world map.