On Difficult Decisions: I flew back to the US from Argentina during the coronavirus pandemic, but I wasn’t sure I made the right decision

Having lived abroad for the past five years, switching realities between the US and Argentina once or twice a year, I’ve noticed that my soul will often take a little while to catch up with my physical body. My physical body travels thousands of miles on jets and goes through customs crossing borders but my soul, my spirit, stays behind in the same people and daily routines. That’s where I am now. My soul is a bit in-between two worlds.

Physically I am in drizzly gray Rhode Island checking out sublet ads at my mother’s house because that seems easier than furnishing a place during a pandemic, but my soul is still back in Argentina attentive to what is happening in my other home.

I left Argentina to come back to the United States as the coronavirus crisis progressed and borders shut down, but I didn’t know if I was making the right call. It’s still hard to know.

While I was still in Argentina, I sat on the couch of my apartment watching the new Argentine president Alberto Fernandez take proactive, decisive national measures to protect the health of the Argentine people against the spread of the coronavirus. He said many times in many ways that the health of the people was his priority.

“We must slow the economy to slow the spread of the virus,” he said.

I still remember that feeling of calm settle into my body as I watched the Argentine president talk about reasonable and caring steps to protect the whole of society. That feeling was so unfamiliar to me: feeling calm watching a political leader. The whole idea that you could have a responsible, caring, rational president: wow.

Since then, Fernandez has drawn praise for his handling of the crisis with an approach that sharply differs from the madness currently happening in the US, Mexico, and Brazil.

As of this writing (Thursday, April 2), Argentina has 1,133 cases (2.5 per 100,000 people). The US has 214,461 (65.6 per 100,000). Argentina clearly was able to keep their numbers so low (compared to neighbor Brazil too) because Argentina  imposed a coordinated national quarantine when the pandemic was in early stages and only a few hundred people had tested positive for the virus  (versus the patchwork craziness of states making their own decisions in the States without help from the federal government). Guatamela and El Salvador imposed strict national quarantines days after Argentina.

This was all rather ironic given that Argentines often say their country is disorganized compared to the US. The contrast in how the Argentine government is handling the coronavirus crisis couldn’t be clearer compared to the US’ response.

Oh, how I wish more countries took decisive action based on the advice of scientific experts rather than their gut instincts. And on a desire to save lives.

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I planned to fly back to the US on April 16, but on March 12, I posted on Facebook “I am dazed.” That was the day the president of Argentina announced the country was blocking flights between Argentina, and countries considered high-risk at that time: China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, US and all of Europe. That ban wiped out my original flight because American Airlines cancelled all travel to Buenos Aires until May or June. American Airlines would only take calls from people who had flights in the next three days, so information was impossible.

The morning after I recovered from the shock of that announcement I realized here were still ways of getting home through Panama, Brazil, or Chile. So the decision had not been taken out of my hands then. (Somehow life is easier when we don’t have to make decisions!)

But then one by one more countries’ borders started to close.

I didn’t know what to do.

My friend Chris thought I should go quickly if I was going to come to avoid getting trapped in Panama or Brazil. (Brazil might be the worst place to be after the US, as Bolsonaro, their president, is out-Trumping Trump still shaking hands with people at rallies in the middle of a pandemic.)

Jenny thought it was safer to stay put.

Both friends live in dense, large U.S. cities and were grappling with their own stay-or-go decisions. Tough choices are everywhere.

I thought it was safer to stay put too. I felt safe in that little apartment in Buenos Aires, and as a writer, I treasure having my own space. I had bought plenty of food for the cuarantena that had just been announced: lots of meat, vegetables, coconut oil, the food for the keto diet I had just started. I had gotten myself into a routine of yoga and a calming meditation in the morning, then writing most of the day when I wasn’t doing coaching calls. I have a memoir to finish so the solitude didn’t seem terrible: it would be an enforced writing retreat with no distractions. I had Netflix to watch from a comfy couch. I had my computer and a printer. I had more interaction on screens than I needed. I kind of liked all that alone time.

Meanwhile in Buenos Aires people started daily cheers at 9 pm for healthcare workers.

But of course I didn’t know if day after day, week after week of alone time would feel so good. I was afraid of being unable to get home if  my parents got sick. I was also afraid of infecting my mother if I got the virus on the plane rides. And I wasn’t sure it was such a great idea to run home to quarantine for an indefinite amount of time with my mother. (Just because you love your mother doesn’t mean it is a good idea to live together in quarantine.)

When I was in the middle of trying to decide, I walked into the bathroom, not because I had to go to the bathroom but just to go somewhere. I looked at the toilet with its modern flush button installed in the wall above the toilet. There was no reason to think the toilet would break but you know, Murphy’s Law.

I stared at the toilet flusher button. What if that toilet broke while I was in strict quarantine and there was no other bathroom to use? That question terrified me. In a flash I imagined the ocean in Rhode Island and thought of how much I wanted to plunge in the sea. Like many I was dreaming of the beach. If I didn’t go then I might not be able to go for many months. What about my family?

Decisions can be so excruciating. I’ve made a lot of scary decisions in my life, like the original decision to come to Buenos Aires on my own. As a life coach I encourage clients to make decisions based on desire and not fear. But with the coronavirus, there seemed to be no good decisions, only less bad options.

I walked into the bathroom and saw that toilet button again. The fear of a broken toilet in quarantine struck at my most primitive fears.

I walked back to the couch, sat down, clicked buy on the new ticket, and cancelled the other one. It was Friday. I needed to travel immediately to avoid the risk of being stuck in Panama indefinitely because Panama’s borders closed that Sunday night at midnight.

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In a matter of seven hours I packed everything—two suitcases to take with me, and two to leave my with my taxi driver friend Gustavo for whenever I could return to Argentina—to rush back to the United States through Panama.

There were so many things to figure out. How to get the keys to the apartment owners. How to get to the airport. Argentina was in its second day of total national quarantine with cops patrolling the streets for offenders. The normally bustling, creative, chaotic streets of Buenos Aires were totally empty. I couldn’t tell if taxis were allowed to drive on the streets. I left a comment on the US Embassy Facebook page. They said taxis could circulate with a valid reason. (For the record, the US Embassy was not as helpful as they should have been.)

I messaged Gustavo, my taxi-driver friend. We arranged for him to come to my apartment at 11 pm for a 1:39 am flight.

My friend Tan wanted me to come over to say goodbye on the way to the airport but I couldn’t because then I would burst into tears. All I could do was go, go, go.

Just before leaving the apartment at 10:30 I seriously considered not going. I didn’t know how I would manage not touching my face to wipe away sweat while wheeling fat suitcases. Not touching one’s face takes incredible concentration. I was already so exhausted.

I called my friend Jenny, cried, and she listened. Sometimes all I need is for someone to be in my presence when I’m crying.

I kept packing the last things, leaving behind toiletries and all that precious coconut oil.

++

We drove to the airport in deserted streets, me in the backseat with the windows open. Windows open was the rule for cabs in Buenos Aires in the last days before the national quarantine was called. I still wasn’t sure I had made the right decision but there is a moment when there is no turning back. That moment came about ten blocks into the drive.

When he dropped me off, Gustavo and I hugged each other with the soft look in our eyes. We said later we had given each other a socially distanced hug through our eyes. This is something I treasure about Argentina: the affection. Gustavo is part of my tango business team, he’s a friend. He comes to my birthday.

Gustavo also took the airbnb key to give to the owner, the two big bags I could not manage, and some cash to pay my Tango Adventure assistant.

++

At the airport a man in full-body light blue protective gown took my temperature by putting the thermometer on my forehead. I also needed to show a plane ticket to enter. Argentina’s airport was he most strictly controlled of any that day. In so many ways Argentina took the pandemic seriously before other countries in North or South America did.

After checking in, I walked to security past dozens of people sacked out on the ground. The airport looked like it had been converted into a homeless encampment of people sleeping on the floor or camping mats. The airport was otherwise empty and quiet.

So began an odyssey that would take about 24 hours from Buenos Aires to Panama to Miami to Boston. Buenos Aires’ airport was quiet by then but Panama’s was bustling and so was Miami’s. Outside of Argentina the airports were business as usual. All the flights were full.  None of the airlines instructed us to follow social distancing.

On the first flight—the longest one overnight from Buenos Aires to Panama—I sat in a window seat (researchers say window seats are the safest) with a masked couple sitting next to me. During the flight the woman in the couple leaned on my shoulder as she slept.

Should I gently shove her to the right? Honey, dear, why don’t you lean on your husband’s shoulder?

When we entered customs in Miami we used the touch-screen devices just like normal, without any wipes or anyone to wipe them down.

I could understand why the flights from Buenos Aires to Panama and Panama to Miami were full because people were trying to beat deadlines as borders closed.

But it was hard to understand why the American Airlines flight from Miami to Boston was full. Running crowded flights with cheap seats at this point (March 21) seemed immoral.

++

I spent the first week after my 24-hour dash through Panama up to Miami worried I had contracted the virus: nauseous one day, cold symptoms another, body aches initially. It’s hard to separate symptoms that come from extreme emotion and stress and those that come from the dreaded virus.

Nine days later I am doing fine. My mother is doing fine too, thank Goddess.

In the end, I don’t think I had coronavirus. All the obsessive hand-washing and use of hand sanitizers, not to mention wiping down the trays and seats in the airplanes, protected me, or I just got lucky. (Or I’m aysmptomatic! I hope not–I don’t want to be a carrier.) In a world without testing you just never know. When are we going to get those tests?!???! Today in Rhode Island the state is ramping up to test 1,000 a day. I’m lucky to be from the state currently rated second most aggressive in its response to coronavirus by wallethub.com. Our governor Gina Raimondo clearly has the same fierce commitment to saving lives as the president of Argentina, but she could go even further with measures if she followed his lead.

A Buenos Aires friend told me over Skype it would take me three weeks for my body to settle. I think he was right. I’m practicing patience. I’m sleeping again. It’s been twelve days since that 24-hour period of travel. I’m almost through my 14-day quarantine. So far, so good.

Now that I am home, I wonder, did I make the right choice? I suppose I did because even though none of this is easy, none of this is easy for anyone, and it’s better to be close to family just in case. I am sad because I won’t be able to go back to Argentina for a long time–maybe not for a year or longer. I am sad I didn’t say goodbye to any of my friends other than Gustavo. Foreigners are banned at the moment, and even Argentines can’t leave. I don’t think Argentina will open up their borders until there is a vaccine, a treatment, or at least widespread testing.  My transformative tango program the Tango Adventure of course is on pause for a long time too.

I am enraged by the political situation in the US. I fantasize about having a president like Argentina’s who would actually take care of our country.

This US is poised to have the the most deaths in the world as a result of the coronavirus crisis. It twists my stomach to write that sentence.

The Argentines in my life never quite understood how fucked-up the US has become because the image of the US, like the image of Trump, is so Teflon–nothing bad sticks. My Turkish friend totally got it because Turkey is living the same nightmare, only they are ahead of us in the dictatorial timeline. Ojala (I hope!) we get off that timeline in November.

The pandemic has laid that “organized” image bare and will show the rest of the world how brutal American society is with our lack of accessible, affordable healthcare and leaders who clearly do not care about our welfare. Trump wasted two months he could have used preparing us calling this nothing more than a flu.  More sickening, prominent Republicans have suggested it would be OK for millions of people to die to sacrifice for the sake of the economy (aka the stock market). Why not do what European countries are doing and pay businesses to continue paying their workers?

But I am here in my native country that outrages me so, and with all these doubts shared, I am glad. I will choose to be glad here because this is what I have chosen. I couldn’t say that before because I was too jostled after suddenly swapping one life for another. With time my soul is arriving to meet my body.

Decisions are hard, but once you make a decision, you’re on a path. The more time you live with a decision, the less you regret it. Because you start living it, feeling into what’s good about that path.

That’s how I felt walking through this park in Providence yesterday. Spring is on the way finally in New England, and if nothing else, there are beautiful walks. There will be more good things too. I just don’t know what they are yet. The magic will come. It always does.

Walking the path of life in Providence, Rhode Island, early spring, the green of life will come soon

Before I left I posted on Facebook about people in Buenos Aires clapping and shouting, “Vamos!” (“let’s go!”) out their windows nightly at 9 pm in support of health care workers. A friend in San Francisco, commented questioning if anyone in the US would engage in that kind of solidarity cheer.

The movement finally arrived here a couple weeks later. Rituals of support to express our gratitude (and amplify our life force energy) are starting to happen in the US under the hashtag #clapbecausewecare. The idea is to clap to support health care workers—and grocery workers, truck drivers, gas pumpers, food delivery people, and everyone else who is putting their lives on the line so we can stay home to stay safe.

From what I gather, the clapping happens at 7 or 8 pm in the US communities compared to 9 pm in Buenos Aires, which makes me chuckle. Everything starts later in Argentina. People in Buenos Aires are clapping nightly. Vamos norteamericanos. Let’s go!

A friend of mine in Marin just north of San Francisco says that in Mill Valley they are howling nightly at 8 pm to “collectively express thanks and connectedness” in the midst of the pandemic.

Howl, clap, bring it on.

 

Aplausos in support of medical personnel in Buenos Aires

Solidarity cheers in New York City for health care workers

Sue Aikens was here with us for a Tango Adventure!

[During Sue’s Tango Adventure, I did an interview with Sue on what drew her from northern Alaska grizzly bear country to the wilds of tango here with us in Buenos Aires. Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you get word when the video is edited. It’s a chance to discover a totally different side of Sue Aikens, a most fascinating woman.]

So guess what everybody! We had the amazing, unfathomable Susan Aikens, star of the show National Geographic documentary series “Life Below Zero” with us here in Buenos Aires for a Tango Adventure! Sue is an outdoorswoman, adventurer, survivor, hunter, angler, businesswoman, loner, and now… a new tango dancer.

Sue is a rare female star who gives women across the world an example of a woman who lives life on her own terms, way off the beaten path of modern life, with humor and a spark for life outside the comfort zone. Her native intelligence shines through on her show as Sue constructs everything she needs in the extremely remote location she lives in up in Northern Alaska. But Sue is also very sociable and curious about the world and people. You can see the hilarious parts of Sue here:

You can see the tough parts of Sue on display here:

So what’s the scoop? If you are like me, and never watched “Life Below Zero,” Sue lives in isolation 500 miles from Fairbanks and just a few miles from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at Kavik River Camp, an exploration camp she has created to enable people to explore nature in the area. You have to take a plane to get to Kavik. Sue built her own runway! (And many other things.) The show depicts the daily battles to survive in a harsh climate. Sue has become one of the favorites on the show (check out the passion of her fans’ reviews on this page) with many women and men fans who revere an independent woman. Fans of the show have followed Sue’s challenges with recovering from a bear attack (the bear had her head in its mouth but she escaped) and a snowmobiling accident.

Sue told Men’s Journal, “I had to sew my own head together, and my arm, and before my hips popped out, I went across the river, found the bear, shot him, called the trooper, and there I lay for 10 days.”  According to the story, she was “finally taken to Fairbanks for treatment, and later to the Lower 48 for hip and spinal surgery.”

Clearly Sue is fierce. A survivor with a verve for life. But she is more than just an Alaskan survivalist. She also loves exploring cultures. She wanted to explore following in close-embrace tango and her own unique feminine side. Sue came to Buenos Aires with our Tango Adventure team to explore Argentine tango. She was very clear she did not want ballroom tango. She wanted the original: the energetic connection that is uniquely created in the tango embrace. For a woman who lives in isolation battling to survive in the most remote parts of Alaska, the choice to explore the culture of tango in Buenos Aires is….well, in a word…remarkable! All we do is hug people all day long.  There are no words for this! Sue often talks about living outside the comfort zone. I love this quote she gave in an interview, “You’re never more alive than when you’re on the edge.”

What I’ve discovered about Sue is that she is very funny, caring and thoughtful–she is quite the woman. The more I get to know her, the more blown away I am. She shows us the possibility of transformation, for sure, and the many experiences we can live in one lifetime, as you can see in the photos below.

Many online say Sue has more balls than a man, but I would say she has ovaries. Why is courage associated with balls? Come on, let’s find some more body parts to associate with bravery, ladies!

Here are some snaps and one video clip of Sue dancing from Sue’s Tango Adventure with us . . .what’s truly remarkable is that Sue came to us a total beginner. After a two-week Tango Adventure she was dancing fluidly with our shining star taxi dancer Roberto. The amazing tango development was a credit to her innate capacity to learn and find balance in her body (she sure does take on physical challenges) and to the awesomeness of our Tango Adventure team, clearly!

With TFG (Tango Fairygodfather!) Kevin

Out dancing with Nico, one of our favorite taxi dancers, and TFG (Tango Fairygodmother) Wanda, both key member of our Tango Adventure team

Dancing with Gustavo, another key member of our Tango Adventure team, at Plaza Dorrego, one of the friendly milongas we take you to.

Testing out the new tango dress while shopping for tango shoes

Having merienda (afternoon snack) with Sasha, the head honcho 😉 and soul of the Tango Adventure and Solo Chica Tango Adventure Coordinator Julia who makes the magic happen

Subscribe to my YouTube channel to see the interview with Sue on why she felt drawn to Argentine tango. We talked about lots of great stuff, like living outside the comfort zone and drawing boundaries without being an asshole. Sue’s capacity to be direct and assertive while also being really nice kind of blew me away. Role model alert.

Sue is one of many, many women and men who have joined us for Tango Adventures. Every single one of our participants has been a shining star. You don’t have to battle bears to come. If you want to explore coming on your own Tango Adventure, take the first step by checking this page then entering your email address to start the dance. 

Meet three inspiring women soon to be on the loose for Solo Chica Tango Adventures in Buenos Aires

Meet three inspiring women soon to be on the loose for Solo Chica Tango Adventures in Buenos Aires

Have you ever dreamed of getting away from everyone you know and going on an adventure where you get to try on new sides of yourself and learn something new? The magic happens outside of the comfort zone. First you may need some support to step out of your comfort zone.

Solo Chica is designed to help you do just that–get on a plane, go somewhere new, and learn something new in a safe, contained way because you have our curated Itinerary and supportive program to guide you. You won’t be figuring this all out on your own.

We are super excited to officially launching the Solo Chica Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires with the stories of three women (American and British) who are soon to embark on an international growth adventure with our team.

In the contest, we asked them why we should choose them to receive extra support in a free coaching session with me (Sasha) and why we should choose them to be the new face of Solo Chica in a free three-hour Tango Goddess Photo Shoot (value $499) with a photographer who shoots for Netlix.

  • We chose Kelly as our Grand Prize winner because she wants to help us show that tango can be for every body type, and racial/ethnic background. We think that message is so important. 
  • We chose Cathy because she told us she wants to reimagine womanhood with a partner or not, and to heal regrets about not being a mother. And she is a priest! We needed to have her on board.
  • We chose Justyn because she is a two-time cancer survivor who uses all her life experiences and learnings to inspire others to use their own powers to heal themselves through the Brave Souls Project.

Two are total beginners. One is an advanced beginner. All three women are taking a leap outside their comfort zones to learn a dance in a city where they know no one–until now. Here are some of the people they are about to meet.

 

So who are these brave Solo Chicas?

Here are their stories. 

Kelly Macias, Washington, DC, Grand Prize Winner of a coaching session with Sasha and a Tango Goddess Photo Shoot (value $500)

In Kelly’s words: “I’m a writer and a consultant and my consulting practice is focused on supporting organizations to increase their racial and gender equity so that they can do social justice work in the world. I would describe myself as a dreamer—I’m much more interested in possibilities, creating and building new things and developing what could be than by feeling limited by what actually is.”

Kelly’s Tango: “I would say that I’m an advanced beginner. I’ve been having a love affair with tango since 2004 but it is currently an unrequited love because I’ve been inconsistent. I’ve taken group lessons, privates, workshops over the last 15 years but sporadically. I enjoy salsa, bachata, merengue and hip hop. If money were not an issue, I’d have given up my work long ago and moved to Buenos Aires to pursue my dream of being a tango star!”

Why should we choose you for the launch contest to receive this extra free coaching support?  “I’ve spent the last few years feeling very disconnected from my sexuality, sensuality and feminine energy, as a whole. I would the opportunity to get support in exploring it.

I would be an enthusiastic ambassador for the program and could imagine partnering with Sola Chica in some way to promote diversity (racial/ethnic, body type, career, etc). within the program. I’m already sold on what a great and transformative experience this could be and I’d want to spread the word so that folks know that tango really is for everybody and every body type!“

What would it mean for you to rediscover the Tango Goddess in you through the photo shoot? “Like many working women in their forties, I’ve been busy focusing on my career for the last several years. The stress of trying to be successful in a hectic society centered around class and patriarchy and white supremacy has taken its toll. I’m no longer as carefree or vulnerable as I used to be.

Add technology and social media to the mix, and it has meant that I spend most of my time in front of a computer screen than tending to my intimate relationships. I want to connect back to my vulnerability and sensuality and joy and think that the Tango Goddess photo shoot is a way to liberate myself from all that has been weighing me down.”

What else would you like to discover through this experience? “I want to have multiple tangasms and discover pleasure, intimacy, and connection through my lived experiences!”

We are all for it. We are excited to have Kelly in Buenos Aires for her Solo Chica Tango Adventure and for the Tango in Paradise weekend in Escobar in November…and we can’t wait to see her Tango Goddess pictures.

Check out Kelly’s website, and be sure to follow Kelly on Instagram for her Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires. 

Cathy Mark, London UK, winner of a coaching session with Sasha

Tell us more about you; “I am a menopausal priest on a journey of healing and rediscovery as I work towards accepting that I may never find ‘the one’ to settle down with and I will now never have biological children of my own. I want to rediscover love, light and laughter in a self-affirming way.”

Describe your tango experience: “Total beginner.”

What else would you like to discover through this experience: “Learn to love myself again. Learn to forgive myself. Learn to laugh again.”

Cathy will be coming from the UK. She loves traveling and her favorite destination to date is Sri Lanka. She also recently visited Finland and Morocco.

Cathy is coming in 2020. As we develop the Solo Chica program, we may develop an email list that lets people connect with other Solo Chicas who want to adventure together. We are excited to welcome Cathy and see how her adventure unfolds!

Justyn Livingston, Bend, Oregon, Winner of a coaching session with Sasha

Tell us about you: “I am an artist, painter, former professional ice-skater, and meditation teacher/coach.  I am thriving after two cancer diagnoses, and have been doing deep inner work with Dr Joe Dispenza. It is time for me to ‘take it off the mat’ and live it. Tango in Paradise and Solo Chica seem like a great place to start. ;-)” 

If you are chosen as a winner in the Launch Contest and you receive a free 1-hour coaching session with Sasha, what would you like to focus on? “Furthering my ‘feminine mojo’ (we need a new word! verve?). I have been single for a long time, and would like to shift my energy and draw a fitting partner in dance and in life. I want to integrate what many beautiful European women have and exude, which is a confident sensuality and style in all ages.”

“Our culture considers women my age to be invisible. It’s time to change that. Surgeries and cancer treatments have been difficult gifts and I intend to live beyond those perceived limitations.”

Why tango?: “I spent a few years in Eugene and Corvallis dancing Cuban Salsa with a little bit of DanzSon, and loved it. In my earlier years I studied ballet, flamenco, modern dance and jazz. I’ve taken one tango workshop and found it compelling on many levels. Specifically, the energetic lead that occurs when two people are tuned in to each other and in the present moment.”

Helping others: Justyn’s experiences on cancer’s healing path led her to create The Brave Souls Project, where she supports others on their healing journeys. BSP helps people transform their health by rewiring their responses to thoughts and emotions from fear and anxiety into healing and opportunity. She helps others in group and one-on-one sessions, using the power of guided meditation, epigenetics and neuroscience to help people shift their outlook.

Through her experience in Solo Chica, Justyn wants to “inspire other women to claim their lives, whole-heartedly. If not now, then when?”

Justyn will be at the October 18-20 Tango in Paradise weekend with us an hour outside the city at the start of her curated Solo Chica Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires. We are really excited to be part of her story.

Be sure to follow her Solo Chica Adventure on the Brave Souls Project Instagram.

PS Everyone who comes on a Solo Chica Tango Adventure gets a Tango Fairygodmother or father to accompany them in the milongas to dance, meet people, and discover the three transformational elements in the Solo Chica Tango program: the look, the embrace, and the walk. Justyn is so excited about meeting her Tango Fairygodfather Kevin she shouted it out on Instagram. 

Here’s a video where you can see the Solo Chica Adventure that awaits these three ladies–and possibly you … 

Are you a Solo Chica?

It doesn’t matter if you are single or married. Solo Chica doesn’t depend on your relationship status. Being a Solo Chica means you want to travel alone in style. 

The Solo Chica Tango Adventure is accessible and easy to do. All adventures start with one step.

Enter your email below. We will send you more information in a beautiful PDF showing you the adventure that awaits you in Buenos Aires.  

Introducing Solo Chica: Curated Transformative Travel Adventures for #femalesolotravelers 35+

Have you thought about traveling alone for your next vacation, but you are afraid that solo travel could be a bit lonely? Not with Solo Chica! Today I am excited to announce our exciting new thing–designed to make it easy for you to get on a plane for an adventure on your own. Easy. Done. Itinerary in hand.

Solo Chica is all about helping women 35+ travel alone with carefully curated Itineraries for transformative learning experiences. With Solo Chica, you can travel to off-the-beaten-path worlds in a local culture without having to figure this all out alone. You’ll be immediately connected with local people when you land who will guide you on a course of personal transformation–through a dance, a photo shoot, or who knows what…Solo Chica-style!

Women who are under 35 can be Solo Chicas too–so can men! We designed Solo Chica for 35+ solo travelers in mind because we want to support women to travel alone. Younger women and men have more built-in support for traveling alone through hostels.

Doesn’t it seem more “normal” for younger people to travel solo? After a certain age, the message gets drummed into us that we are support to travel with a partner, family, or friends. At Solo Chica, we support you to travel solo or with whoever you want. There is something sublime about solo travel. Solo travel stretches you, showing you new parts of yourself as you meet more people and take risks in a place where no one knows you.

 Give us your week of vacation. Solo Chica will turn your trip into a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

What’s a Solo Chica™ Adventure? 

Solo Chica is a new kind of solo travel adventure designed by Quirkyalone author and life coach Sasha Cagen (moi!) to make it easy for you to get on the plane for a curated 7-day transformative vacation. Easy. Done. Itinerary in hand.

Solo Chica is designed for busy women who want adventure. With every Solo Chica Adventure, you get an Itinerary that has been created by local insiders to give you a travel experience that’s fulfilling, easy, authentic, and safe.

Every Solo Chica Itinerary includes contacts for the people to guide you on a transformative experience. 

Because Solo Chica not a group tour, you will have the freedom to come when you want and to move according to your own choices and desires. You’ll be open for serendipity when you travel while also having structure and support. (Goodbye annoying prepackaged tours that schedule every moment tiring you out.)

The future is Solo Chica

Interest in female solo travel is skyrocketing. Not only are more people single today than ever more married and partnered women want to go on soul-fulfilling trips on their own. My coaching clients want to talk about how to travel solo without feeling lonely. I’ve also heard from married women, I want to go on a Solo Chica Adventure! You can!

However, there are still a lot of questions and frustrations for older solo female travelers: 

  • Where to stay if you want to meet people but don’t want to stay at a twentysomething party hostel? 
  • How do you handle going out alone at night? 
  • Where to go so you are not surrounded by couples and families, talking to no one, and feeling terribly lonely? (Been there, done that!)
  • What to do if you are concerned about safety or loneliness but you are not a group tour person? 

Solo Chica was created as one answer to these questions. 

You want to get off the tourist bus and deep into the culture wherever you go. 

You like to travel with purpose and meet new people.

You want to get back in your body and reconnect with the parts of you that are fun, sensual and exude joie de vivre. 

But you work a lot … You don’t have time to plan.

We have something for you!

Why are we focused on the chicas?

We call it Solo Chica because our focus is empowering women to travel alone for transformative learning experiences.

We are open to the cool, self-aware men too! 

Solo Chica fits in with the overall mission here at sashacagen.com. Much of my work with Quirkyalone, my life coaching work, and online courses have been about helping you to reduce your fear being single so that you can hold out for the kind of relationship you really want. When you aren’t afraid of being alone, you won’t settle

Traveling alone is part of this equation. You want to feel free to live your dreams whether you are single or in partnership. 

If not now, when?

Don’ t waste your life hiding in comfort zones. Come on a Solo Chica Adventure!

Our First Solo Chica Itinerary is the Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires. Watch this video to see the Adventure that awaits Solo Chicas in Buenos Aires…

 

Every Solo Chica Itinerary will get you out of your head and back into your body.

Why the body focus? Because the tech industry got us good. We are all hopelessly addicted to our screens and thinking way too much! We need to reconnect with our flesh.

In the social media era, tango is the perfect first Solo Chica Adventure. Tango allows us to be in the present moment with another person we can see, touch, feel, and enjoy connecting with. Tango also helps us to reconnect with our masculinity, femininity, sensuality and confidence. 

In the Solo Chica Tango Adventure Itinerary, we give you 7 days of carefully curated tango bliss from morning to night in Buenos Aires, where tango was born.

Solo Chica is not only a vacation. It’s a personal growth adventure designed to help you:

  • Reconnect to your sensuality. Rediscover parts of you that you that have been lost or suppressed when you reconnect your sensual self through tango.
  • Become more physically confident in ways you can draw on for dating, flirting, and work/leadership whether you are a woman or a man. For women, hello pussywalking!
  • Discover what tango has to teach you about yourself, life, and relationships…with a high probability of tangasms! Every person on our carefully curated Solo Chica Buenos Aires team was chosen for their warmth, excellence, and their ability to show you the tangasmic path of tango.

Your Tango Fairygodmother (or father) will show you the way to your look, your walk, and your tangasm. Yes, your Tango Fairygodmother. You can read all the details about the role your Tango Fairygodmother or father will take in your Adventure here. 

Stay tuned for Solo Chica Launch Contest Winners! 

As we were developing Solo Chica, we ran a contest earlier this year asking the women and men who told us they wanted to come on a Tango Adventure why we should give them extra support in a free coaching session and with a free Tango Goddess Photo Shoot (one of the amazing things you can do as part of your Solo Chica Adventure as insider pricing.)

Later this week we will announce the winners of the Solo Chica Launch Contest. They are all brave, inspiring women who will soon arrive in Buenos Aires for their curated Solo Chica Adventures.

Be sure you are signed up to the newsletter to get the post. 

Here are some of the amazing people waiting for you in Buenos Aires!

We are waiting for you!

Are you a Solo Chica?

It doesn’t matter if you are single or married. Solo Chica doesn’t depend on your relationship status. Being a Solo Chica means you want to travel alone in style. 

The Solo Chica Tango Adventure is accessible and easy to do. All adventures start with one step.

Enter your email below. We will send you more information in a beautiful PDF showing you the adventure that awaits you in Buenos Aires.  

Reviving Sensuality in the Digital Age. An interview with Kaamna Live

What is sensuality and why does it matter? Our culture is obsessed with sex. Sex matters of course. But we rarely talk about sensuality. I want to talk about reviving sensuality in the digital age when we are all too often burying our heads in screens.

In this video with Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan on her new Internet talk show Kaamna Live I made sensuality a priority in my life by leaving Silicon Valley for Brazil back in 2010. In this interview I explain why I made sensuality so important for me at a time when my life was going downhill in many ways.

That move led me to Buenos Aires and tango. The search for sensuality continues because as I see it I need sensual fulfillment to be happy, healthy, and in touch with what I want and don’t want. Being in touch with my sensuality actually helps me make decisions and feel more worthy and whole. We get a lot of valuable information from our bodies but we can only feel those pulses of information if we are in touch with our senses.

In this interview we talk about why reviving your sensuality matters for your health and well-being, which celebrities are sensual and which are not, and how you can make playing golf a more sensual experience. Ha. And we should not miss the obvious point: giving focus to sensuality will make you a better lover. As Kaamna so wisely points out in the video: Men, take note!

Does sensuality matter for you? How do you trigger yourself to get out of your head, off the computer or your phone and back into your body? Where do you find sensual delight?

Let us know in the comments.

Five years of Tango Adventuring in Buenos Aires – and new directions with Solo Chica . . .

Our first group in 2014! Meeting at Poesia, a Bar Notable in San Telmo to talk about tango

With this blog post I show you ten of the Tango Adventure groups that have come together in Buenos Aires to learn tango and tango’s lessons for life and relationships.

These pictures don’t represent everyone either! There were more intrepid adventurers who came on their own — these are just the groups.

Since starting the Tango Adventure in 2014 I have worked with such great people on my teams and met such amazing women and men who have courageously joined us for a transformative travel experience through tango. I have watched many women’s (and men’s) faces light up with joy through dance and the profound revelations tango sparks. That was my own personal story — and it’s one I’m telling in my memoir. It’s been a joy to spread tango as a transformative path.

The Tango Adventure is without a doubt one of the best things I have done in my career (I don’t really see myself as having a career – more a series of creative projects). This project has had my heart.

We have one more group adventure scheduled for May 4-10 and then the group Tango Adventure will be on pause while I focus on my next book.

Meanwhile we will have the Solo Chica Tango Adventure which I will tell you more about soon … Solo Chica allows you to come for an immersion when it works for you and it’s without a doubt the best way to come to Buenos Aires for three, seven, or ten days to immerse yourself for a transformative tango experience – and to dance, dance, dance!

We have one spot open for the May adventure supergroup.

This group is going to be fantastic – we have a harpist, a single dad who has done development work in Brazil and Africa, a woman who married herself and is coming on her honeymoon, a Silicon Valley startup advisor, and an Australian writer.

If this unique learning international adventure is calling you go to this page to enter your email address. You’ll then get a questionnaire to fill out so we can learn more about you and see if this is a good fit for you.

If those dates don’t work then you should definitely consider Solo Chica which is an incredible alternative for your transformative tango vacation in Buenos Aires.

Here are some of our other supergroups. . .

NEXT STEPS FOR TANGUERAS OR TANGUERAS TO BE!

Want to have your own personal honeymoon in Buenos Aires?

a self-marriage photo with my bridesmaids back in 2014

I married myself here in Buenos Aires in the Japanese Gardens as an act of self-love back in 2014. I wanted to marry the light and dark in me, the parts I like and the parts I don’t like as much. I can say though no marriage is ever completely smooth this self-marriage with myself has gone well. We are still together. Of course others have entered the relationship. Those who self-marry are generally bigamists who carry on relationships with others too!

I’ve been following this trend since 2003 since I wrote about self-marriage in Quirkyalone. You can read my interview in Vogue on self-marriage here and see me on ABC/Nightline explaining why this trend is appealing to women. (I’ve since helped both single and married women in my coaching practice write their vows and marry themselves in unique ceremonies.)

I have been especially thrilled over the years when women who have come on the group Tango Adventure  have also taken their trip to Buenos Aires as a chance to marry themselves or to celebrate their self-marriage with a honeymoon.

Two years ago I helped a coaching client marry herself by the Floralis Genérica sculpture, a giant metal flower that blooms daily in Buenos Aires. The sculpture was a gift to the city by the Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano. Catalano once said that the flower “is a synthesis of all the flowers and is both a hope that is reborn every day to open.” I couldn’t think of a more symbolically appropriate place to make vows to yourself every day to bloom anew.

See the giant metal flower here:

Now I am excited again because a woman who is coming on the May 4-10 Group Tango Adventure has already married herself and she has chosen to make coming on the Tango Adventure her honeymoon.  I asked her to send me her thoughts on why she was choosing to do her honeymoon with us in Buenos Aires and she wrote this:

Basically, my decision to marry myself in May 2016 was a gentle and gradual one. A honeymoon didn’t cross my mind at that time, but I did start thinking about how I would celebrate. In self-marriage, there isn’t an economic boost from family and friends in the same way as there often is with marriage to another person. So, this trip is the culmination of my ability to rally my own resources and dedicate myself to a long-term plan to bring myself pleasure and relief. It’s a buoying feeling to come through for myself, to make good on a long promise, and to acknowledge that committing to one’s own vitality is a serious act worthy of celebration and travel.

How beautiful is that? I love the last line about committing to one’s vitality as an act worthy of celebration.

If the idea of marrying yourself or doing your own honeymoon in Buenos Aires appeals to you, feel free to join us for that May 4-10 Tango Adventure, which is shaping up to be a great group of people. If you want to marry yourself then you will certainly have the support of two other women who have already married themselves. We also have the Solo Chica Tango Adventure for those of you keen for a honeymoon or self-wedding who can’t make those dates. You can pair Solo Chica or the Group Adventure with coaching and I will help you create your vows and your self-wedding.

Right about now is a good time to come to Argentina

Goofing around with Katrin and her beautiful artisanal tango and non-tango shoes

There’s something you all should really know. Right now is an excellent time to travel to Buenos Aires.

The currency devaluation of the peso has made everything from food to cabs to clothing to milonga entrances as much as 30% cheaper for those of us who have dollars or Euros.

A big devaluation of the Argentine peso happened in September 2018 and I didn’t scream it from the rooftops to you then because quite frankly I feel for my Argentine friends and all those who work in the local economy. It’s not easy when the purchasing power of your salary suddenly decreases by 30%.

However it’s certainly beneficial for you to know about this change if you’re thinking about visiting–and it’s also beneficial for my tango team to have more people coming to learn tango in Buenos Aires. When you come, you are supporting a local economy of people who live and breathe the passion of tango: teaching tango, organizing milongas, providing taxi dancing services to help you gain confidence on the dance floor, and selling artisanal shoes and clothing.

Now is really a great time for you to come to Argentina!

This Bloomberg story gives you an overview of how tempting Argentina has become to tourists. The Bloomberg story tells you about tourists flocking to Argentina for excellent cuts of steak and wine at great prices. The deals are also good for tango shoes, lessons, massages, and my favorite plant-based meals in Buenos Aires. From an economic perspective, it’s a great time to enjoy the many delights the city has to offer.

We will do the last group Tango Adventure for a while May 4-10, 2019 (sniff, sniff) so that’s another reason to seize the moment. If you have been thinking about joining us now is the time.

Go here to sign up to get the information for the group Tango Adventure and then you’ll be prompted to fill out a questionnaire.

And if those dates don’t work for you, the Solo Chica Tango Adventure is here for you. I’ve been working like crazy with my team over the last two months to create an exciting new way for you to have a self-guided adventure in my Buenos Aires with specially created transformative tango programs and exclusive pricing for you as my readers.

Sign up at the bottom of this page to get updates on Solo Chica so you can pounce and get access to flash sales. If you want to come to dance tango in Buenos Aires Solo Chica will be the way to do it!

 

The Outdoor Milongas of Paris

I just got back to Buenos Aires from (and Ireland, and the US!) in time for our next group Tango Adventure–starting this coming Saturday with a fantastic group from the US, Germany/Romania and Australia.

During my travels through the US and Europe, I of course visited tango scenes–especially in Paris. Learning tango has changed the way I travel. Tango came into my life around the same time I discovered I have celiac disease and both discovered changed me; being celiac pushes me to find gluten-free restaurants when I travel and dancing tango pushes me to find milongas! Tango also has given me a way to meet new people wherever I go and also to discover places off the beaten path that I would probably not find otherwise.

On this recent trip to Paris–the second in 9 months–I discovered even more beautiful outdoor milongas so at this point I thought, I just have to wrap all this beauty up in a blog post to share with you. I was inspired by this couple and many more and the creativity of Paris’ tango organizers in reclaiming public space for dance. Oh la la.

Where you dance tango or not, visiting the outdoor milongas of Paris is a treat because tango is mesmerizing to watch and the milongas takes you to these beautiful social scenes. Probably no city has a more beautiful or romantic backdrop for tango.

Here are a few photos to tell you the story of what you might find in Paris if you are as lucky as I was.


An outdoor “milonga illegale” on the Passarelle de Simone de Beauvoir in the summer months. A passarelle is a footbridge. This one was called an illegal milonga because the organizers didn’t have a permit. But there really was no illegal activity, only music, dancing, and a bit of wine.

Milonga on the Quai de Seine by Jardin Tino Rossi (metro: Jussieau). In the summer months people gather along the Seine to dance tango–and also salsa, kizomba, swing and folkloric dance. These dance circles happen every night when it’s nice out. Getting to know the Quai de Seine scene convinced me that Paris turns into an urban paradise in the summer. Again, it doesn’t even matter if you dance. You can just bring wine, cheese, bread, crackers, and sit by the Seine taking in the scene. Eventually you might get pulled into one of the dance cultures.

Similarly in the summer months, and starting in April when the first warm weather of spring begins, people gather to dance by Place Trocadéro by the Eiffel Tower to dance. There are also lots of break-dancing street performers, protests and tourists taking in the Eiffel Tower of course.

The creative milonga orgnanizers of Paris invited people to bring cardboard to this outdoor milonga by the Parc de Belleville. The milonga overlooks a park where you will find many Parisians doing “picnic”–“picnic” is the social activity of the warm months. Down below I also found a group practicing capoeira, the Brazilian martial art-dance. By the Parc de Belleville there are also lots of hipster-chic cafes and bars, including a restaurant that’s 100% gluten-free.

To give credit where credit is due, I knew about many of these beautiful gatherings because my dear Parisian tanguero friend Eric tipped me off. And so now I tip you off too!

I know about these places because my tanguero friends in Paris tip me off but you can also find out about many outdoor tango events on this website: the Argentine Tango Calendar of Paris. It’s not hard to catch one of these beautiful events when the weather is warm. For example, the milongas by the Quais de Seine (by the side of the Seine) happen every night in the summer months by Jardin Tino Rossi.

Our next group Buenos Aires Tango Adventure is May 26-June 1. Of course the outdoor and indoor milongas in Buenos Aires are a thing of beauty too. Once you learn tango with us you will feel more confident and comfortable exploring tango all over the world. Check out all the details on our next Tango Adventure here!

The Creative NYC Quirkyalone/Togethers

[end of the night at the qa/qt meetup nyc at Ten Bells]

During my travels in the U.S. I made a quick stop in New York City.

In New York I hosted a quirkyalone/together meetup at Ten Bells, a wine bar on the Lower East Side (Thanks to Melissa Banigan for the suggestion–it was the perfect place.) I’ve been doing these meetups in California, New York and New England because I want to seize the opportunity to meet more of you and also share in person some ideas that I have percolating to serve the QA community.

I’m more convinced than ever that you quirkyalone/together readers are just fantastic. I’ve always felt that when I get to know you in online courses, by working one-on-one with you and in the Tango Adventure. Now with these stateside meetups I’ve seen how great it is to meet you and have you meet each other.

I thought I would tell you about who came because it was such a creative group with everyone working on interesting projects.

Caren Lissner came out from Hoboken. She is working on various writing projects – and her funny first novel, Carrie Pilby, has a quirkyalone protagonist. The novel has a movie version that is currently on Netflix. Her websitehas writing projects, funny and serious. She’s also @carenlissner on Twitter

Phoebe Blue is in a band with her partner (the’yre both very independent so quirkyalone/together fits them well!) The band is Phoebe Blue and the Make Baleaves. Check out their latest album Wordz of Wizdumb. Phoebe is part of the antifolk scene in New York and every February 14 she plays a show and gives a shoutout to Quirkyalone Day. She convinced us all that Staten Island is the place to be in New York City and a future quirkyalone/together meetup might take place there. See Phoebe rap here in the song Baby Talk.

Maggie Buford is the Education Director at Staten Island MakerSpace, “a non-profit workshop that helps artists, craftspeople, engineers, inventors, and entrepreneurs make their ideas come to life.” You can like SI MakerSpace on Facebook. Maggie lives on Staten Island too. Phoebe turned Maggie on to Quirkyalone at a key moment in her life and they have been sharing the book with people in their Staten Island community.

Petra Hanson is a two-time Quirkyalone/together Meetuper because she was able to attend both meetups in SF and NY. Petra is a former pop star in Japan (yup!), a blogger and a fashion designer, and she’s up to something important and needed with the B-Sider, a blog and storytelling series (and a podcast to come) about reinventing yourself past 40 for the B-Side of your life. Check out the B-Sider and be sure to sign up to for the podcast to hear the inspiring stories she’s curating in the storytelling series.

Petra also responded when I asked last year if anyone wanted to get married to her or himself for national television. Watch the intrepid Petra talk about marrying herself and the expiration dates women face here on this ABC/Nightline documentary on self-marriage — you’ll see me give my perspective on self-marriage too. 

I’m still feeling the afterglow from all the spontaneous meetups in NYC, Providence and San Francisco. Stay tuned for more to come!