I asked the front desk to call me a ‘radio’ taxi and asked a porter to help me with my luggage. The porter, Jeremy, is someone I have come to know during my stay in Buenos Aries. He is such a kind, helpful, very tall, black gentleman with a British accent. Jeremy has helped me interpret the language many times.
I even took a picture of a protest across from where I was having lunch at the obelisk. I took it back to him to see if it was safe. He read the protest signs and said it was safe. The protest was about bringing more awareness to mental health disorders. I went back and joined the demonstration.
Jeremy and the other staff always greeted me when I arrived back at the hotel from one of my solo excursions. Most of the other conference attendees had departed two days ago. It is so much quieter now. I am so glad I took some extra time to stay and experience Buenos Aries, Tigris, and even Montevideo, Uruguay.
This trip had been such an experience in so many ways. I have learned a lot about mental health, other cultures, connecting with other peoples, and my Self. I experienced such a variety of emotions, intense fear, peace, excitement, and bewilderment. I really began to be so conscious of the now. I don’t know if it was because I was so out of place in a strange country, my experience with the fear I experienced on my first day or really reviewing and remember my events so I could continue my process of writing my blog of my experiences here. It was like I was forced to pay attention to my surroundings and intuition. At home it seems like I am always going from one activity to another.
I saw a tweet from someone who was describing what she was eating or not eating throughout the day. It was clear she was in the grips of her eating disorder. It brought me back to how life used to be when I too was consumed with the thoughts of food, weight, diets, body image or exercise.
I can now use that awareness to enter into the world of my patients. I ask about how much time they spending thinking about these things, engaging in the behaviors and recovering from the many episodes of disordered eating. I remember the journals I kept at that time. It consisted of the date, what I ate, what time, the calories, carbohydrates, and fat content of each morsel that entered my mouth. Tell me I wasn’t obsessed.
Then there were days that I binged and I would put an X through the day and record how many times I purged usually with a + sign after the number because I lost count. I went into the eating disorder world of numbness and avoided all my feelings, friends, activities and thoughts that just took too many coping tools that I did not posses. I lived a life in eating disorder behaviors or trying to avoid succumbing to the disorder. Either way the eating disorder was what made up my reality of living then.
Here in Argentina my daily meditations seemed to bring me more peace than at home. But here I can reflect and kept making that conscious contact with my God all day long. It was like I had a partner everywhere I went. Here I have time to write, to connect with my Self and be prepared for whatever my adventure would be for the day.
I hope I continue my pace and awareness when I come home to my everyday life. I believe I would have so much to offer from this place of stillness.
Before getting into the taxi I asked the doorman to take a picture of the “radio” taxi, driver and Jeremy. I wanted a picture of the right kind of taxi to get in Argentina to show my friends in contrast to the one I originally took. I need to admit that it also felt comforting to have the identity of the driver recorded on my cell phone that I could blast out to the world if things went awry again. I don’t know how that would really help but that was my insurance. I also did not want to forget the kindness I experienced from the staff at the Panamericano Hotel. I am sure I was a pain at times getting them to verify safety and translations.
As we drove away the staff waved goodbye. It is amazing how such a small gesture can mean so much. Carlos made his way to the highway through the traffic of the bustling city. It was a beautiful day. Although the seasons in Argentina are exactly the opposite time of the year than they are in the United States this was a beautiful winter day in the low 70s with a clear blue sky.
Carlos did not speak English so we were driving in silence as he listened to his music and I enjoyed the passing scenery. I could barely hear the music but I loved the melody and the beat. I pointed to the music and gestured for him to turn it up. He smiled and obliged. Half of the songs were in English and half were in Spanish. We both were tapping to the beat. I realized what a great experience this taxi ride was right now as he sang along with the Spanish songs and because the radio was very loud, I sang along to the English melodies.
Anyone who has heard me sing knows that the music needs to be very loud. As an adolescent my sister, Rhonda who sat next to me in church would whisper in my ear not to sing so loud because I was embarrassing her. I learned at an early age that singing is not one of my gifts. Sometimes I will sing even worse than normal in the car with my husband or her just to be funny.
Carlos would glance back and smile. We were both rocking out to the same tunes and we did not understand each other’s languages. Music truly is the common denominator. At the airport, as I got out of the taxi, Carlos ejected the CD he had made himself and placed it in my hand. The music would be a great reminder of Buenos Aires and a simple experience that was so memorable.
I am so glad that I did not allow the first taxi ride from the airport prevent me from having the experience that I had just had. What a beautiful gesture!
I sat on the plane reflecting on my 9 days in Argentina. I felt joy and gratefulness for the journey that I had experienced. I also really experienced a longing to write again. I had been writing because it was required of me, but I realized in that moment that the information was coming from my intellect. My recent articles were about creating awareness for eating disorders, disordered eating, food addictions and my treatment center, Rebecca’s House Eating Disorder Treatment Programs in Southern California. The writing came from a place of helping people but it was missing one key ingredient . . . me.
I had totally separated from my Self and that still small voice inside. I was listening to what others told me to write and when to write. It was beginning to feel like a chore instead of the truths that came to mind when I was following my inner direction. I know we need to cooperate with others, but I was forsaking my Self for what others were wanting from me. It was no one’s fault but my own. I hadn’t even seen it until I got some distance from my ordinary life.
It was such an honor to be able to talk to so many mental health professionals around the world in Argentina. Before I left, my husband told me to be very careful in South America. He was afraid someone would kidnap me and hold me for ransom. I think he has seen too many movies with that theme, but it did register in the back of my mind. In fact when I was in a few of these predicaments, the thought, “This could make a great movie script” did cross my mind.