I’ve been in Buenos Aires for five days now, long enough to have run (and nearly perished during) an 8k race in 30 degree heat, acted a fool on New Year’s Eve (the 8k made me an absurdly cheap date), visited far-flung suburbs, and made new friends. The Spanish is beginning to flow more naturally now, which was the main objective of this trip; the Argentine idioms and ‘Y’s-voiced-as-‘J’s have worked their way in. Now, speaking of work…

Yeah. Back to that.

This was never intended to be a full vacation for me, and the freelance assignments continue to exist. Today marks my return to something resembling a disciplined work schedule, which is tricky given  Argentine proclivities toward staying out until sunrise, not to mention my travel partner’s total holiday state of mind. No complaints, though; better to be here than not. Though, as I’ve hinted before, I appreciate being forced to keep one foot grounded in Toronto.

For some of us–maybe most of us–travel is an unnatural state. I’ve come across a number of serial wanderers in my lifetime, those shaggy-haired creatures who’ve long abandoned the idea of a permanent home base, can ask for directions in a dozen different languages and sport the distinctive curve of backpack scoliosis. While I admire their perpetual curiosity and adventure-seeking, I don’t identify with it. It may even be fair to say that being away from familiar faces and routines throws me into a state of existential turmoil. Surprise. But, really, so much of what defines us is what we’re tied to; away from all that, who are we? Here, I’m just an interchangeable Canadian tourist. That’s my label, and the nuances don’t matter.

That said, it’s affirming to feel stripped-down. Important to feel unimportant, maybe. I don’t feel at ease, say,  stepping into a dance club where I don’t speak the slang or look the part, but that’s arguably all the more reason to take that particular plunge. We all owe it to ourselves to step outside of our cultural comfort zones, both at home and abroad. It’s like a ceremonial bullshit cleanse. So, I say: here’s to more of that in the year to come.

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