I’ve got just a few weeks until D-Day arrives (knock on wood). Until then, I’ll be engaged in a mad rush to gather up all of the necessary supplies, tie up the loose ends, and watch as many episodes of Sportscenter as humanly possible. It’s hard to believe that what started out as a crazy idea back in February – born in large part, probably, by total disillusionment with *the job search* – has almost come to fruition. Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve got.
Cell Phone. Thanks to the generosity of Liffer’s brother, who was doing Med School work down in Buenos Aires for 4 months, I have a cool, fully-working phone with text messaging. This is great. It’s also kind of ironic that I don’t have a cell phone that works in North America…
Internet Bank Account.
Living in a foreign country, I won’t have access to ATMs of my local bank – which matters because if I try to take money from the ATM, not only will I be charged by my bank for withdrawing money outside of the network, but I could be subject to those nasty surcharges tacked on by the ATM itself. Remember, I’m a poor broke bastard OK! Although Citibank has some ATMs in the city, and apparently, even a few branches in Buenos Aires, it seems to be alot easier to have my money in an internet bank account. There are a few advantges of the particular one I chose, USAA. Of course I haven’t actually used this bank yet, so I can’t speak for certain that it actually does it all it says it does, but here’s the idea: no ATM withdrawal surcharges; reimbursement of ATM-issued surcharges; no monthly fee; free checking/checkbook; 100% protection; instant internet transfers; incredibly competent customer service, blah blah blah.
Lucky for me there are daily nonstop, direct flights from Washington DC (Dulles) to Buenos Aires on United. The best part is, I was able to use my parents’ long-accumulated and never used USAir miles for this flight (thanks Mom and Dad), because USAir is partnered with United. Not a bad deal at all. As far as I know, only DC, Miami, New York, Chicago, and Atlanta (hmm…that’s funny, I think I know people in all of THOSE cities…) have direct nonstops to Argentina, so I lucked out on this.
Another issue is that I’ll be arriving in Argentina on a 3-month tourist visa, even though my plan is stay for 10 months to a year. How am I planning to do this, you may ask – short of bribing the customs agent, what is a poor gringo to do? (In my filthiest, New Jersey-Italian accent): well, I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do. To renew your tourist visa for another 3 months you can either pay a fee, or exit and re-enter the country within the 3-month period. From what I gather, the more popular option is the latter – Uruguay is just across the river from Buenos Aires, so you can take a boat to Uruguay and return to Buenos Aires for a tourist visa renewal all within a day. While you could also do the exit-re-entry thing through one of the other neighboring countries, it’s not as easy. The Chilean border is at least a 14 hour bus ride/1 1/2 hour plane ride away…To enter Brazil Americans need a special visa, which has to be pre-approved and costs about $150 USD…The same deal applies for Paraguay (special visa for Americans, plus a fee), not to mention it’s many hours away from Buenos Aires. Guess I’ll be seeing alot of the fine country of Uruguay.