Sunday, June 12, 2011

Walking the Uneven Streets of Buenos Aires

I recently vacationed in Buenos Aires, my first trip abroad since my MS diagnosis! I had good days and bad days during our two-week stay and sometimes found myself getting stressed and anxious just simply walking down the streets of Buenos Aires since they are uneven with cobblestones and very crowded.  Allow me to share the state of my psyche one morning as we walked from our apartment to the subway station:

The uneven streets of Buenos Aires lurk below

[Christie] Another beautiful and sunny morning in Buenos Aires!  My legs feel wonky this morning, burning and unsteady with every step, so I feel like a drunk and it is not left over from the Malbec we drank last night.  These cobblestones will be tricky.  It’s a good thing I don’t wear high heals because I would fall constantly.  Instead I wear Keens, the most stable and comfortable shoes in the world.  They really handle the cobblestones and make me steady and ready to walk these uneven streets of Buenos Aires.  I like that I have two pairs.  One brown. One black. Squish!  What am I stepping in?  It’s just a little poo, which seems to be everywhere.  There are a lot of dogs in the uneven streets of Buenos Aires usually accompanied by a dog walker and leashed with thirteen other dogs. That’s potentially a lot of poo and this makes me wonder why I haven’t stepped in more. My sweetie tells me, reading from the guidebook, ‘it’s against the law in Buenos Aires if you walk more than sixteen dogs at a time.’ Hearing this makes me ponder how something like this would be regulated.  Maybe Buenos Aires has a special Dog Walkers Unit, DWU, counting the number of dogs per walker.  I imagine the DWU officer asking a dog walker ‘is that little terrier with you, the one peeing on the tree?’  It’s time to cross the street and we wait for the green figure to appear and tell us when it is it safe to go.  In the meanwhile, I notice the enormous piles of trash on the street corner.  And I ask, ‘don’t they have trash collectors in this city?’ I am suddenly reminded that the garbage workers are on strike.  No wonder there is so much trash on every street corner of Buenos Aires. It smells and I stress and I realize that I have more obstacles to maneuver: cobblestones, poo and now piles of garbage and my legs still feel wonky, burning and unsteady with every step. Green light!  We cross.  Oh god.  I freak, ‘why are there so many Argentines coming at me?’  My left eye is whacked, compromised, de-saturated and blurry, and I cannot rely on it to keep me on the straight and narrow. These Argentines are really moving fast! Suddenly, I am forced to use only my left eye since my right eye is now blocked by the figure of an Argentine as we cross the street together. My heart beats harder and my pace quickens. Shadows appear on the cross walk, from the nearby buildings and trees, and the anxiety builds up as I continue walking, in the dark now, refusing to take off my sunglasses because they’re prescription and I am near sighted. As I walk in the dark with these fast moving Argentines I try to figure out, ‘is that one person or three people coming towards me right now?’  Once across the street, I throw out my right hand, drag it along the graffiti stoned walls of Buenos Aires, to keep me steady and ready on these uneven streets. I really don’t want to fall down.  It’ll hurt. I remember what my good friend Mel always says when walking, ‘look ahead. Plan.’ I now look ahead.  Construction coming up! Big Hole! I walk around, quickly and carefully as I try not to fall in.  That would be embarrassing if I actually fell in.  I imagine my loved ones asking me as I recover in the hospital, ‘Christie, how did you manage to fall into the underground of Buenos Aires?’  And I think about how many bruises I’d likely get!  I have enough bruises from all the things I’ve already bumped into:  subway doors and turnstiles, café chairs, and the door handles of the apartment.  I do not need more. It’s not pretty. So in order to avoid more I focus and I plan.  I look ahead for the dangers that lurk on the uneven streets of Buenos Aires.  Cobbestones, poo, garbage and big holes in the streets.  We head to the subway (Subte) and the entrance is wicked intimidating: steep, very steep steps leading into a dark hole. I put my hand out, on the railing and start walking down the stairs. I tell myself, ‘don’t think about the germs and toxins that are caked on the railing.  Just focus and plan on getting down these steps safely’. My hand glides along the railing. Eww!  Germs and toxins.  Good grief.  But, I make it!  We are in the Subte station yet the train we want disappears into the dark tunnels of Buenos Aires. Shit. So we wait on the platform for the next.  I look around and notice that there are a lot of people down and around here.  A lot of Argentines take the Subte.  I begin to niggle.  I hope this crowd doesn’t knock me down.  I am not stable today.  Next train arrives.  Holy Crap!  It’s jammed pack.  How are we going to squeeze on board?  I watch the young man in front of us try first but he gets cut off by three other Argentines the last of whom gets his butt cheeks caught in-between the closing Subte doors as he tries to squeeze onto the already over crowded train.  He gets in, cheeks and all, yet the coat tails of his jacket stick out in-between the Subte doors as the train pulls away into the dark tunnels of Buenos Aires. Decidedly, I’m not squeezing these cheeks on a crowded Subte train.  That’ll feel weird.  Besides, my butt is much larger than his and I’m likely to cause an uproar if the doors try to close which will likely lead to a protest in the streets of Buenos Aires as these Argentines like to protest.  We board the next train which is just as crowded as the other and I smoosh in-between swarms of Argentines who hold me up with their arms, legs, bellies, butts and shoulders and I ask myself, ‘am I even touching the ground?’  All I can do is giggle.  Really giggle. I am the only one giggling on this train, aside from my sweetie, and this makes me giggle more.  The Argentines are not finding this the least bit funny. Suddenly I have to pee.  I hope there is a bathroom at the Evita museum.  Instead.I. Just. Hold. It and silently thank the Argentines who do not laugh for holding up today because I needed some support.  
After walking the uneven streets of Buenos Aries, we squeeze onto the crowded Subte
Despite all this niggling, it has not tainted my wanderlust and I can't wait to see more of this world! How about you? What have your travel experiences been like since your diagnosis (or for your MSer)? I'd love to hear from you!

Best always,


  1. For someone who lived in Bs As (in my preMS days), this post brought back lots of memories. Believe it not, strikes and whatnot, it is still a great city. I keep saying one of these days I will go back to visit, but MS body and finances so far have gotten in the way. Thanks for making me think of the city.

    I also wanted to let you know why I am commenting as Anonymous. Blogger has made a change and many of your readers will not be able to comment or will only be able to do it as anonymous unless you do the following.

    Go your dashboard, hit settings >comments > comment form placement >pop-up window.
    Hope this helps.

    Peace Be With You blog

  2. Ah! Thanks for the tip! I absolutely LOVED Buenos Aires and would go back in a heart beat! It's a beautiful city filled with wonderful people! Thanks for stopping by Judy!

  3. Aaahhhhh.....sweet BA! Great post! Makes you feel like you are right there!

  4. I "travel" via my son who has the wanderlust gene. He just got back from Spain last night. He met one of my online friends and I'm anxious to see what he has to say about him! I've know him and his family for over 10 years. He's been to Denmark, Norway, Canada, UK, Maui, but says next year he's doing the west coast of the USA.

    I have no money. He gets to go because he's in SCHOOL. Pooey...

  5. Travelling around - such a great thing to do! We usually take the wheelchair with us and I use it whenever I need to. As little as possible :-)

    Next Thursday I'll be giving myself a challenge: I'm going to London for 2 nights - on my own and without the chair. I really want to do this: see if I can still do this on my own. Feels exciting!

  6. Sherry: thanks for stopping by! It's nice to have wanderlust through someone you love. Spain is amazing and I am glad he got a chance to hang out in this beautiful country. Best, Christie

  7. Dag Isle! Good luck in London - I think you can do it! Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Very exciting! Tot ziens, Christie

  8. Courageous and hilarious. Mwah! XOXOX!

  9. What a funny way you have to tell stories. The capital of Argentina can be very stressful at times and downtown is not for everybody. You need to have 6 eyes! Still I love it. I have never met people like the people I met in Argentina. I stayed for 3 months in this apartment in buenos aires and I made friends with very different and exciting lives. BA is a cosmopolitan city and offers a night that noone in Latinamerica does!

  10. Hi Kimberly. Thanks for stopping by. I absolutely loved Buenos Aires and look forward to returning one day. It's great that you spent 3 months there! Jealous. Best, Christie

  11. A quick perusal of your blog has piqued my interest. I started blogging about recipes ( as a starter blog. I have been told over and over to write about David and me (my hubbie with MS) and I am trying to formulate what and where to go with it. Your blog is entertaining and winsome-- loved what I saw so far.
    Keep on keepin on!

    1. Thanks so much Arlene! I think it's a great idea to write about you and David and I look forward to seeing what you come up with! Keep us posted. Best, Christie


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