Why not? Live in Cafayate, Argentina. A place to celebrate the joys of family and friends.
Updated: Jun 26, 2020
Mitch, Karen and daughter Autumn and Lila arrived from the US to join Karens´ Mom and Dad who have been some of the original residents of La Estancia de Cafayate. Here they share a little of their story.
What were the deciding factors that finally caused you to make the move to Cafayate with a 4-year-old (now five) and pregnant?
Karen: As cliché as it sounds, we decided, "Why not?" I had been a stay-at-home parent since our first child was born, so I didn't have a job holding me in the States. Mitch had a job at the time, but was ready for a change, ready to explore. Our daughter was still in preschool, so it was the best time to move.
We decided this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we both felt that the pain of regret would be worse than stepping out on faith and accepting the adventure, uncertainty and all. After all, it's not permanent unless we decide for it to be.
Being pregnant was not a factor in our decision to come down. It just worked out that way. I was very aware that my care in Cafayate could and would be different than it was during my pregnancy in the States, as would be my labor and delivery experience.
However, I was pleased in general with the care I received, both in Cafayate and in Salta.
Mitch: It was a little different than when we had Autumn in the States, but it was an awesome experience! The quality of care that we received was amazing and the suite that we stayed in at the hospital also did not disappoint. The cost of her care was significantly less than it was with our first daughter.
"We decided this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we both felt that the pain of regret would be worse than stepping out on faith and accepting the adventure"
What was your experience like having your second daughter delivered in Salta?
Karen: Before we even arrived in Cafayate, we had decided that I would deliver in Salta, not Cafayate and at a private, not a public hospital.
This was based on information from a local friend of my moms who had a baby 4-5 months prior. I saw an OBGYN in Cafayate as well as in Salta. The one in Salta was the doctor present at my delivery. I went into labor 9 day early and delivered out daughter the same day. We were fortunate that a friend of my parents, who is Argentinean, was there to help us with the admissions process. Unlike in the US, I would have had to wait in the main lobby/waiting area to be seen; however, our friend was able to get me into triage relatively quickly. Which was a good thing, as I was close to being ready to deliver!
Unlike in the US, all support persons must provide their own scrubs to be present for delivery, to be purchased at the hospital before delivery. Since I delivered early, we had not done this yet and Mitch was stopped on the way to the operation/delivery room and had to purchase his scrubs right then. He came close to missing the delivery of our daughter because of this! I was given no drugs or interventions due to the speed of my labor, only a saline drip by IV which was placed after Lila was born. It was removed again when the bag was finished, a few hours later. In the US, I had an IV during my entire hospital stay, from the time I was admitted until the morning I was discharged.
We chose for me to stay in a single person suite instead of sharing a room with another person. The suite was very nice, with a private sitting/visiting room with a TV and a bathroom. My room had a flat screen HD TV, a mini refrigerator, and a nice fold out couch for Mitch to sleep on. The room was cleaned every day and a hospital staff member made and unmade Mitch's sofa bed every morning and evening. We received 3 meals plus a light tea/snack every day, and the food was very good, for hospital food. All the nurses who cared for me were wonderful and kind, and took great care of my daughter as well. There was a slight language barrier at times, but we utilized Google translate quite a bit and this helped.
Your older daughter is in school locally. What is her and your experience of this?
Autumn is enrolled in kindergarten at a local school. She really enjoys school and socializing with the other children. It seems to be a typical kindergarten curriculum. Her class participates in lots of local cultural events which include dressing in traditional clothing, and she loves this. Her Spanish is improving and she is also teaching her classmates English, which is beneficial to them as well. Overall, we are pleased with her experience.
How are you spending your days?
Karen: During the week, I teach English lessons to 3 local children for 2 hours twice a week.
On days that I don't teach, and that my parents are able to watch the baby, I go with Mitch to drop Autumn off at school and we go to the local stores and markets and grocery shop. We go to the produce stand for fresh fruits and vegetables and the butcher for fresh meat, and I feel like I am starting to have a relationship with the vendors (at least they recognize us when we arrive and the lady at the produce stand even asked about me after our daughter was born and I was still home recovering).
We pick Autumn up after school and come home and help make lunch, usually something simple like sandwiches and soup or tuna, egg, or chicken salad with crackers.
Afterwards I take a siesta for an hour or so, between feeding our younger daughter.
Sometimes all of us nap, and sometimes Mitch works on the computer. Dinner prep usually starts around 6:00, depending on what we are having. We tend to keep North American hours and eat around 7:15pm. After dinner once both girls are settled, I personally watch either American or Argentine Netflix or movies on Amazon on my laptop or prepare lessons and worksheets for my next English lesson.
Mitch: I get up before Karen and the girls do in the morning. I help get the older child ready for school, letting Karen catch up on some sleep she may have lost taking care of the baby overnight and check my email.
I take Autumn to school most days and sometimes Karen and I grocery shop for the family after dropping her off.
Between getting back to the house and going to get Autumn after school, I try to fit in a daily trip to the gym for an hour workout.
Once Autumn is home from school I also help with lunch, and then after lunch, a short siesta. Then I spend time playing with Autumn, either outside on her bike or inside watching her build with Legos or play with her other toys.
Same as what Karen said, help prep dinner, cook and eat dinner, and then bath and bedtime routines for the girls.
Once the kids are asleep, I relax and watch movies on Netflix or check my email again. I'm generally in bed before Karen, between 11-11:30pm.
What do you feel from the community as to your arrival?
Mitch: The community seemed to accept us pretty quickly.
Karen: I feel we have been warmly received by the community. We do our shopping at the local shops and eat at the local restaurants, and really make an effort to engage with the proprietors of these establishments. It's amazing how just being friendly and saying Hola can go a long way in creating relationships here.
You are both already working. How is that going?
Mitch: It’s going rather well. It took a little while to get started, but I see an expanding need for my skills in Cafayate.
Karen: I am really enjoying my job and the flexibility of setting my own schedule is great! My students are very smart and eager to learn. And they are helping me with my Spanish as well!
"I am really enjoying my job and the flexibility of setting my own schedule is great"
Is language a barrier since neither of you spoke Spanish when you arrived?
Mitch: Sometimes it can be an issue, but we are all learning. We use a translate app on our phones when we need to, but the translations are not perfect.
Karen: I spoke a little bit of Spanish prior to coming here, having studied it in school and in college, but that was Latin American Spanish, not the Northern Argentine version, and I am a bit rusty. I did some prior studying before we arrived, and have continued to study while here. Some words and phrases I have learned by asking, especially for things while shopping. I do agree with Mitch, Google translate has been great, if not perfect, especially when I don't know how to ask or express what I am trying to say.
What has surprised you the most?
Karen: Since I have been here before, not too much surprised me coming down here. I knew a lot of what to expect. But the first time I came down here, I was surprised at seeing livestock wandering in the street. I was also surprised at how small the supermarkets were compared to the big box supermarkets in the States. The selection, however, was better than I expected. They may not have everything you want, but they generally have the things you do need. Also, the late hours threw me at first, with most restaurants at that time not opening until 8:30 or later! This has changed a little since then, and we have also adapted to the culture as well.
Do you see a long-term future here?
Mitch: I do. The cost of living here is minimal compared to how much it cost in the states. Yes, it does come at a cost of conveniences, but I feel it is a great place to live and raise a family.
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