Comfortably Numb

Plane travel can put you into a state of suspended reality, where you’re inured from both your origin and your destination. I find this can sometimes be a distinct advantage. Any doubts about what I was doing (or why!) were on hold as I sat, dazed and unthinking, in my rarified capsule at the start of my six month sabbatical in South America. I unknowingly crossed into the southern hemisphere in a restless half-drowse of plastic cutlery and unmemorable movies. And then as we hit the runway at Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza airport, the Argentinian cliches began to emerge thick and fast, as if they’d been hammering at the ice-encrusted plastic portholes the entire journey. Stocky cows mooched in a field at the edge of the airstrip, and a man in front stood up and pulled on a green blouson jacket, with the name of his polo team etched on the back.

In the taxi, the radio declared it was el primer dia del primavera, the first day of spring. It was cold and rainy. And if anything could jolt me out of my flight-induced stupor, it was the taxi driver pointing out, in a grim grey underpass, a memorial to the 30 million people who disappeared between 1976 and 1983. Looking at the rain-lashed cobbles in the old town’s Plaza Dorrego an hour or so later, I felt they could equally be in Paris or Amsterdam. But this place has a history all its own. And I was getting eager to immerse myself in it. This was just the beginning. Who knew what adventures might be waiting round the corner?

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3 thoughts on “Comfortably Numb

  1. Liz, be careful of the zeros when you are buying things. The entire population of Argentina in 1976 was about 26 million so if your taxi driver was right there must have been a hell of a disappearing act, followed by massive birth rate to get the population back up to the current 40 million or so.

  2. Robin, you´re right! I was sure the taxi man said 30 million, but maybe he was exaggerating for effect, or maybe I misunderstood. I´ve done a bit of googling and the actual figure is somewhere between 9000 and 30,000. Thanks for picking up on that! Still pretty shocking though.

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