I’m Julie, and I’m an Expat | A Day in the Life of a Buenos Aires, Argentina documentary/lifestyle photographer

Hi! I’m Julie. I am a documentary/lifestyle photographer expat, living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I made some new friends recently; and it was brought to my attention that my life is not as mundane as it seems to me. We got word we were moving to Argentina, packed up and shipped out  a quarter of our stuff and put the rest in storage, dropped our animals at my parents house, and four weeks later we are boarding a plane with 8 suitcases, 4 carry-ons, a car seat and a Bob stroller to Buenos Aires.

But that has been pretty typical of the last 5 years.  In that time, my husband and I have moved twice, and will continue to move every few years for the foreseeable future. Albeit not usually to foreign countries and on such short notice - we only get one more of those.  And between each packing and unpacking, I have juggled running my photography business, updating my photography portfolio, being a mom to a rambunctious toddler, and running all things household related.

To me, my days aren’t exciting. I wake up. I drink too much coffee. I make breakfast. Then I rush my three year old son to his Spanish-speaking preschool where I am THAT mom, who never has a clue because my Spanish is mierda.

While my son is at school, I have 3 blissful, lonely hours to myself. Then I pick him up and the rest of the day is kind of fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants. Normal, boring, nothing exciting.

But, this “boring” life is sprinkled with adventure.  Sometimes it’s REALLY frustrating adventures and sometimes it’s pretty badass. But most of my stories are about what it’s like trying to adapt and survive in a foreign country where I only sort of speak the language.

Before I delve into all those nuggets from our first 12 months living in BA (Buenos Aires people, get used to the abbreviation now), let me introduce you to myself and my family.  

I present to you, A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE MCGREGORS!  Full of action and adventure and surprises.

Our Saturday started off as usual. Billy (handsome husband) and Ian (also handsome, 3 year old) got out of bed first, because mom REALLY loves sleeping. Since my husband is an angel sent to me from heaven, he nine times out of ten puts the coffee on for me. Have you guys seen those memes about the woman who is a beast before her coffee?  Those memes were pretty much made for me.

Anywho, after I get up, I stumble into the bathroom and immediately turn on the hot water, because it takes approximately 10 minutes and 47 seconds to get hot. Fast forward 11 minutes, still, cold water. And it stayed cold. I stood there for a few more minutes repeatedly sticking my hand in the frigid water trying to convince myself that maybe it was warming up a little. But it wasn’t.

We live on the 5th floor of a 27-story high rise building amidst a sea of high rises. We get notes under our back door ALL THE TIME, and ALL IN SPANISH.  Sometimes I whip out the Google translate camera and decipher the notes, sometimes it’s just not worth the effort.

I had only glanced at the note we received yesterday.  I saw that something was happening at 2000 (most things here are in 24 hour time format), then didn’t bother reading the rest. That something that was happening was the management turning off gas in the building until medio dÍa the next day.

Shit like this happens ALL THE TIME. No water, no power, no gas… they are being turned off all the time for one reason or another.  Not having water, power, or gas isn’t the end of the world, and it’s usually not for extended periods of time. It’s just a pain in the ass, but also something we’ve grown very used to.

Legit Donuts in Buenos Aires!?

So since cooking on our gas stove wasn’t an option, we headed out for the next best thing --Donuts.  The American craze over donuts had not yet hit Argentina, until about four weeks ago.

An Argentinian couple, who had enjoyed some donuts on a recent trip to the U.S., opened up shop down here called Donut Therapy. The first time I went to this shop was during their 2nd week in business. They got hit so hard with customers, that they were almost totally sold out of their fried creations. But today we decided to give them another shot.

It’s about a 15 minute walk, so there and back is just enough to burn off exactly two donuts. Yes, two donuts. Don’t ask me for the research behind this fact, it’s all in my head and much too complicated to explain, you are just going to have to trust me on this one.  

The short walk between our house and the donut shop is filled with street art. I didn’t grab many pictures today on our walk, perhaps I’ll post more on the street art another time.   

As we arrived to the shop, there was a line out the door. But, fist pump! They have their production line nailed down!!!  One additional bonus for expats is that most of the staff at Donut Therapy speak perfect English. I never thought I’d look forward to having a little chitty chat with strangers.  This is something I didn’t even realize I cared so much about until it was gone… That seemingly pointless small talk with random people throughout your day. But that’s another story.

Buenos Aires has all the parks.

While my son ate his donut in the stroller, we headed to parque de las ciencias, a cool little playground set up for kids, all themed around science. There are little signs sprinkled around the park.  I have never stopped to actually read the signs, since I am usually trying to keep track of my child, who is chasing pigeons and screaming, “GET OFF MY CASTLE,  BIRD!!!”. So unfortunately, I can’t tell you about any of the cool science play equipment -- I blame it on the pigeons. Lo siento.   

The weather today was freakishly hot and humid so we didn’t stay long.  Yesterday was the first day of spring here, and it has been cold gloomy winter here for months and months.  Then today out of nowhere, bam. It was hot as balls.
So we strapped the kid back in the stroller and headed across the street to Distrito Arcos, a cool little outdoor mall where stores are built under the arches of the train tracks.  We were on a mission to find some mittens for our trip next week to El Calafate.  I found some Roxy mittens at one of the few American stores here, but Billy and Ian remain mitten-less for now.  After my mitten conquest, we head home to put up our feet and cool off before heading out to Recoleta to hunt for penguins.

Recoleta Weekend Market

Penguins, you say? A pingüino!  Here in Argentina, the pingüino, a little penguin shaped decanter is traditionally used to serve wine. They make a great gift!  

Where do you find these penguins?  Well, every weekend there is a street market in Recoleta, right next to the cultural center and Recoleta Cemetery.  So the entire place is always jam packed with shoppers, street performers, and tourists.  It’s full of eclectic gifts and very local products. It’s great.

I didn’t end up finding my pingüino, but Ian did find a few trees to climb.

We finished our day with dinner at one of our usual spots, Bueller.  A thunderstorm was rolling in just as we were leaving the restaurant and we barely made it to our car. The hot day left us all feeling sticky and exhausted.  

And because I know you were concerned, yes.  When we returned home, gas had been restored and there were hot showers all around.

Julie McGregor