BUENOS AIRES — I promised myself that I would never become one of those people who, as he gets older, can’t handle change, who becomes, metaphorically anyway, a “Get off my lawn” kind of old dude.
Under trying circumstances, that can be a hard vow to live up to, I have found this week.
I had an even harder time with all that, I think, which was surprising to me because I have been here before and have traveled a lot, and I usually am a good traveler. This time in Argentina, though, I am five years older and the adjustment has been much harder. While I am in better physical condition than probably 95 percent of men 55 years old, I barely dragged myself through the first few days here.
I was tired, physically and mentally, I missed the quiet, rural life at home and I missed my family. I was tired of being here, but I’d just arrived and I had another four weeks to go. My body and mind were wracked and I just wanted to go home.
I wanted to get back to my routine. I wanted to rest. I wanted to watch the basketball and hockey playoffs.
Then, while still lacking a good night’s sleep since arriving here, I found my stride. Yes, I was tired, but I came to grips with getting around in the local, charming-if-scruffy Palermo neighborhood and found a couple reliable, amiable places to eat and buy supplies. I figured out how the various contraptions work in the tiny apartment that had been rented for me, and I generally figured out how to get into my email accounts and set up WiFi so I could access personal messages and work-related information I needed.
I found the people I am working with here at the student travel service are helpful and engaging and nice, which helped put my mind at ease because I have to keep tabs on 17 young people who are in a city known for its good times and its great pickpockets.
One of the things that I forgot is how a guy who looks like I do fits in here. In Argentina there are many people who are blue-eyed and blond — and I am still one of those, anyway — and when I walk down the street I don’t get many if any double-takes. When I open my mouth, though, the locals figure out that I am not one of their own. They generally tell me my Spanish is mediocre and Mexican-accented, whereas at home my Spanish is frequently referred to as mediocre and gringo-accented.
I didn’t find the hockey playoffs here on the television — although you can find soccer or soccer highlights or soccer interviews or soccer discussion or soccer bloopers on about 17 of the 70 channels on the cable service in my apartment at any given time — but I did find the NBA playoffs, and while they are on late for an old guy like I am, I’m trying to adjust.
And I’m getting there. My mind has reached a comfort level where I know I can function well here.
Now it’s just a matter of my tired old body catching up.
Bret Kofford teaches writing at San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus. His opinions don’t necessarily reflect those of SDSU or its employees. He can be reached, if his WiFi is working in Buenos Aires, at Kofford@roadrunner.com