And so here it is. I knew eventually it would come to this, but I wasn´t sure how long I would last without HAVING to talk about this. I have had a nasty cold all week. It got a little worse, then it got a little better, then finally came to head today where I had to actually say the words, ¨ok it´s time to brave the South American health care system.¨ Hmm.
As I got on the subway today to head to the merry medical land I couldn´t help but think that maybe I should just skip it, go home and try to sleep it off. Then, after hacking on some lady accidently as I am leaving the subway, I thought maybe I should just brave it. I walked a total of 10 blocks to my destination. What stood before me was a small room filled with 2 or 3 not so happy people. I took a deep breath and went inside. As I approached the front desk, the lady had already stood to her feet to greet me, of course in Spanish. I asked politely if she knew English and was graciously smiled at and told yes. As I explained my symptoms she wrote furiously. Then, as I finished I expected the next words I was going to hear was if I had insurance. I was pleasantly surprised when the next words I heard were ¨wait right here and we will call you in a moment¨. Sure enough, it really WAS a moment.
I walked slowly back to this well-lit room, where the table was, peering at everything in sight. I immediately had my vitals taken and was offered a glass of water. So far so good. Then, the doctor came in, and to my surprise and amazement, he was British. ¨Good day¨he says. ¨What seems to be the problem?¨I then started to explain the weeks worth of symptoms and complications. Then, the most dreaded question of all, ¨do you have any other prior medical conditions?¨I answered with great concern fearing that I had just opened a Pandora´s box of bad things to follow. The response I got was a smile and ¨don´t worry we´ll get you fixed¨. After this, I was given a xray, consultation and medication. Inside, I winced at the thought of what my bill would look like post-appointment. I am, in fact, American and not a citizen therefore not making me eligible for the free government health insurance. As I walked to the receptionist, my fingers crossed and head down, I handed her my discharge paper. Äh ok, that will be 20 pesos.¨ Umm, not quite sure I heard what she said. ¨Are you telling me that for everything I got it was only 20 pesos (for those of you not in tune with the exchange rate, thats about 5 dollars)?¨ The receptionist looked down and looked back up at me ¨one xray, consult and meds right? Yes, 20 pesos.¨
Ok, so there´s my story on health care in Argentina. Sounds like a joke huh? I wish it were to be honest. Before I wrote this blog today I looked up the prices for the same service in the states with no medical insurance. For my area the price would have been around 250 dollars. 5 dollars versus 250 dollars, and not only that but I never had the same friendliness I received today in the states. Men and women here actually care about more than the bottom line. They care about health. My health, your health, the wealthy, the homeless, whoever walks into the door.
My mind goes blank in thought. These people are not socialist, they are not communists, and they don´t live in little red houses with posters of Stalin or Castro. They live as citizens of life, of healthy living, and believing that government money is important to spend of the lives and health of others no matter how broke, or wealthy or middle class, or foreign you are. There is no crime or shame in any of it, it´s just how they live.
So go ahead and listen to your respected parties ideas on this or that. But do you think any of those people have been in a foreign country while they were sick? Have you? Therefore I say the only people who are allowed to put up an argument on this blog are people who had the same experience as me today. There are some experiences that change your life, and your views on the reality that people in government try to give you. Although, you can never really make up your mind until your in the shoes of another, can you. Think about it.
Well Well, for whatever reason I have had more views on my blog then I thought I would. So here is another installment of my adventures for week one.
Did anyone ever see ¨Lost in Translation¨? Welcome to my life. No, I am not surrounded by tiny Japanese men. In this world I´m surrounded by an array of Spanish people. You are probably thinking ¨well duh Erika, you´re in Argentina¨but you never know how out-of-place you feel until you´re standing in a crowded subway with all eyes on you. And no, i´m not exaggerating. For me, it´s like being at Ozfest in the mosh pit. Or, Bill Murray being stuck on an elevator with 5 foot Japanese men. Even better, the Backstreet boys opening for Metalica. It´s just a different reality, a different feeling, a different emotion. Trying to fit in is am impossible feat no matter how hard I try. Even worse, when you get on that same subway in tow of your Argentinean boyfriend. Stares from girls become hard to ignore. But it´s ok, nothing a smile and a kiss on the boyfriend´s cheek won´t solve.
Language. What a tricky business. I thought my years of high school Spanish and refresher would be okay. However, they never prepared me for slang. Case in point, this past Wednesday. Argentina finally won their ticket to the World Cup. When asked about it, the coach told the media to ¨blow it¨which believe me in Spanish sounds awfully sweet, until it´s of course translated. Additionally, if you ever wanted to know how fast Argentinians speak, google ¨terms and conditions in Spanish¨. You´ll see what I mean.
So I use this to explain my new experience this week. Alto Palermo, the mall of a thousand head scratches. This mall is conveniently located two blocks from my residence. To show everyone I will post some cool pictures this weekend but I digress. I went in looking for only one thing. A new shirt to wear to a family event I have to attend this evening (Bill Murray caught in an elevator with someone elses Japanese family). I suddenly learned very quickly my Spanish would need to be in full play on this day. As I went to each store I was greeted and asked several quick questions about what I was needing. I walked out empty handed by the day’s end. To no fault of the wonderful Spanish speaking sales women but through fault of my own. No prior research of sizes, designers or ¨clothes slang¨as I fondly refer to it now. Who knew that I would need Spanish to pick out a shirt! I never sat in Spanish class and thought, ¨hey maybe I should ask to teach me how to shop¨. I never thought I would be living in Argentina either. Go Figure.
Oh, of anyone wants a food suggestion. try empanadas. They are fairly easy to make in the states just google the recipe. I swear by them and they are what is keeping me alive during the day as it is pretty easy to get. Empanadas con pollo (with chicken).
Well, more next week in which I intend to take a journey beyond the comfort of Palermo. And remember, if you get an email from me and it has an ñ in it. Just know that I am trying to screw with your mind…
Ahhhh…and so here it is. My last week in the states. I’m a bit…well let’s just say NERVOUS. However, I’ve put on my brave shoes (skechers) and am on the road in my final week. This blog started as a joke someone made stating that I am such an interesting person that perhaps I should write a blog. Well, I am really not all that intersting. In fact, at this point in time, I am a bit boring. When the opportunity came up for me to go to Buenos Aires, I began to think perhaps a blog would not be such a bad idea.
So, what am I doing in Argentina?
I am not sure how to answer that question. I assume in short that I am “living free”. I sit here at my computer trying to figure out what that means and I’m reminded of a time in my life that my brain had this same idea. It was 2004. I had just broken up with my boyfriend of 3 years and was ready for something different. So, I chose to move to the great city of St. Louis and start over. The day before I left, I had this uncontrollable urge to pee myself every 5 minutes. It was something new, something different. I was no longer bounded by something. Well, if you know the story, you know that it did not work out for me. But, I am glad to this day that I did it. It gave me confidence, experience, and the cool funny feeling in my stomach that now I can handle with ease as I move to my new journey overseas.
So what does this blog intend to do. Waste time? Maybe. But also to share a new journey. To teach people that it’s okay to fulfill a dream, and also that life doesn’t have to end where it wants to end. You have the initiative to change your life.
Also I think you’ll learn something interesting things about Argentina :)