One of the highlights of my South America trip, so far, was my opportunity to take my first mini retirement and live in Buenos Aires for 6 weeks. I have done a lot of traveling over the past 5 years, but I have never settled into one city for longer than a couple weeks.
I was inspired to do this after reading the 4-Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferris. He promotes the idea of taking mini retirements, throughout life, instead of waiting until the end of our lives to take one final retirement.
A mini retirement is different than taking a vacation, which is typically a short-term trip where people tend to be in a touristic mind set. It differs from a sabbatical, which is usually a one-time event. It’s also different than typical backpacking, which usually involves moving fairly quickly from place to place.
Mini-retirements involve living in one location long term (1-6 months) and are reoccurring frequently throughout life. This allows us to participate and immerse ourselves in the new environment and culture. It gives us time to slow down, reflect and take the time to build new skills and habits that we want to work on.
I was Skyping with one of my best friends yesterday and he mentioned that the Vancouver Museum has a new popular exhibition called “The Happiness Show” which is meant to inspire happiness in life. One of the topics that it promotes is mini retirements. It discusses how mini retirements allow us to draw on new knowledge and experiences that we can use to create a better life for ourselves and others.
By taking these mini retirements we gain new perspectives on life, find clarity and return home full of energy and new intentions. The exhibition argues that it doesn’t make any sense to wait until the end of our lives for this. It makes much more sense to experience this throughout life, so that we can actually integrate what we learn and experience into the rest of our life.
I would much rather take many mini retirements throughout my life than wait until I am 65 to take one permanent one. First of all, I plan on building businesses that I am passionate about and on making a positive difference in the world, doing what I love, so I don’t think I will have any desire to retire until I physically cannot work any longer.
Secondly, traveling and living abroad in our 20’s is different than in our 40’s, which is different than in our 60’s. I’m not saying that one is better than the other, just that they are all different. I want to experience all of them.
It seems that many people are looking forward to this magical time of their life called retirement at the end of their career. If this is you then ask yourself, does it really make sense to save the “best” for last?
My Mini Retirement:
Originally, I thought I would spend a couple months in Buenos Aires, but because I spent 11 days in Ushuaia waiting for my Antarctica cruise and then an additional 11 days in Antarctica, I was a few weeks behind where I thought I would be. Looking back, 6 weeks was the perfect amount of time for me.
When I first arrived in Buenos Aires, after returning from my 10-day silent meditation retreat, I spent a few days exploring the city to figure out where I wanted to live. In the end I decided that I wanted to live in Palermo, which is the trendiest area in Buenos Aires, full of restaurants, bars and entertainment. I found a really nice studio apartment for rent, which was close to all forms of transportation and walking distance to several parks. I took it!
Here are some of my highlights from my time in Buenos Aires…
I initially started writing detailed descriptions of all of the attractions I visited and realized I find no enjoyment in writing destination descriptions. That’s not why I write. You can find plenty of detailed information on these attractions using Google if you want to learn more.
La Bomba De Tiempo:
I spent one of my first nights in Buenos Aires at the La Bomba De Tiempo drum show at Konex Cultural Centre. I was joined with some of the Antarctica crew that had made their way up to Buenos Aires. The band consists of 17 drummers and the entire show is supposedly improvised. I enjoyed it so much that I returned again a month later.
I spent a day by the river, in Tigre, with my friend, Ivana. She is one of the girls I met back in Bariloche at the Irish bar when I was stuck drinking two of the worst beers I have ever tasted. She is from Buenos Aires, so she was able to show me around as my “tour guide” for the day.
The Ecological Reserve:
I toured around Puerto Madero and through the Ecological Reserve, with another Argentinian friend, Melisa. I really love how you can feel like you are completely surrounded by nature in the Eco Reserve, when in reality, you are still inside the massive city of Buenos Aires.
I partied hard for the weekend at Lollapolooza Music Festival.
This is one of the parks that was right beside my apartment.
San Miguel And My Buenos Aires Family:
I bet I am one of the only tourists who’s visited San Miguel three times during their time in Buenos Aires. It wasn’t to see any specific sights, or because I enjoyed the one hour train ride to the outskirts of the city. No, it was for the people that were there.
Travelers talk about how Argentinian people can be a bit stand offish and cold. Maybe this is the case when you first meet them, but once they get to know you, it couldn’t be further from the truth. The Argentinian’s that I got to know well were so welcoming and warm to me.
The group of people in the photos below, welcomed me into their family and some of my best memories of my time in Buenos Aires are from when I visited them in San Miguel.
Hanging out with the four amazing little girls in the photo below, made me, for the first time in my life, really start to love kids. I have always known that I do want to have kids, but I was always looking forward to raising a boy. After spending a few hours with the eldest girl, Camila, I realized how much fun it will be to have a daughter as well.
Tango Show and City Tour:
By the time my final week in Buenos Aires was approaching, I realized that I hadn’t really done much touristy stuff. I decided it was time to attend a Tango Show and take a City Tour. The highlight of the tour, was the Recoleta Cemetary. It is massive. It is like a mini city within Buenos Aires.
I finished off my time in Buenos Aires by treating myself to a Boca Jr’s football (soccer) game the evening before leaving the city. This was something I had been looking forward to for a long time. I wouldn’t call myself a soccer fan, or even a sports fan anymore.
However, I do really enjoy attending high energy events. It’s the same reason I go to music festivals. I don’t typically go for the music. I go for the fun, high energy environment. I had been told that Boca Jr fans were as wild as they get and that there was no stadium in the world, including Europe, where I could experience something like I would at a Boca Jr’s game.
Unfortunately, it was a 0-0 game, with no red cards, so I think the crows was a bit more tame then normal. It was still a great experience and a lot of fun.
There are so many other people that I met during my time here that I am grateful to have met. However, I don’t have photos from our time together so you didn’t make my blog. Sorry!
As I mentioned above, taking a mini retirement offers a great chance to build habits and learn new skills. In my first post I said that one of my intentions is to become fluent in Spanish before leaving Latin America. Buenos Aires was where this process was to begin. Attending daily private Spanish lessons was my biggest commitment, during my stay.
I found a great Spanish school to study with called “N De Espanol.” Not only was the price very reasonable and much cheaper than the big commercial schools, but the quality of the lessons was far better than I ever expected. I was taught by three different professors during my 6 weeks with them, and all three of them were wonderful. Therefore, I feel completely confident in recommending them to anyone who plans on learning Spanish in Buenos Aires.
Additionally, I used my free time to work on other habits and weaknesses that I wanted to improve. I will described in a future post, the systems that I use for building habits, which in turn lead to dramatic positive improvements in life.
When my time in Buenos Aires was coming to an end, I experienced a bit of an emotional low and I talked to a couple of my close friends about this. I was a little frustrated that I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted.
For example, I had wanted to learn and practice yoga several times a week and I only went one time during my stay. I wanted to be fluent in Spanish in 6 weeks and I still wasn’t there yet. I wanted to be consistently dating girls while living their, but this didn’t happen either. I took a few Salsa lessons, but I didn’t attend 3 classes per week as planned. I wasn’t sticking to several other daily habits that I was trying to integrate into my life.
I was focusing on all of the negatives of my stay, so I decided to reflect on my experience and realized just how much I had accomplished during the past 6 weeks.
- I learned an entirely new language (I may not be fluent, but I’ve come a long way)
- I’ve come a long way with fixing my body language and learned a lot about non verbal communication
- I learned how to meditate
- I started a blog and learned that I love to write
- I went a month without drinking alcohol
- I ate healthy the entire time I was there
- I realized that I love kids
- I met some amazing people and had some great times
- I experienced my first mini retirement and learned what works and what doesn’t, so that my next one will be much more efficient
- I fell in love with the city and plan on returning some day
After stepping back and putting my overall experience into perspective, I realize now that I may have been trying to do too much. I remember how my life coach taught me to stop trying to work on so many things at the same time.
He told me to set one big goal in each area of my life and to work on a few things with laser focus, instead of trying to work on a hundred things with a scattered mind. It only takes about 3 weeks to build a habit to the point that it has a really good chance of sticking and then we can move onto the next one.
Once I realized that I wasn’t happy with how things were going, I was able to adjust and implement some of the systems that I used to use with my life coach. This made a huge difference in both my attitude and my results.
Looking at the list above, I am really proud of what I accomplished in 6 weeks and I am really grateful to have experienced my first mini retirement. I will be repeating the process in Columbia in July.
If you have never heard of the concept of mini retirements before or if you have heard about it and haven’t taken action on the idea, I would highly recommend giving it a try.
I personally plan on integrating this concept into my lifestyle moving forward for the rest of my life. It makes sense to me. If it makes sense to you too, I really hope that you take action and experience your own first mini retirement soon!