Argentina – (Part 1) It Was a Trip

I’ve been remiss in reporting about my Argentina trip.

Upon my return, a friend, S, (who also does an annual ASR trip) asked me how it was. I replied, “Good, but not relaxing.”

She responded, “It’s an ASR trip. It’s not really the point for it to be relaxing.”

Her response made me think.

Other people had asked the same question, and I had been giving versions the same answer, “Good, but not relaxing,” a touch humorously, maybe a tinge apologetically— as if the expectation would be that if I went on this big trip, I should return rested and renewed. Or healed in some way. And since I couldn’t say that, I felt my answer was low-key disappointing. This expectation was, of course, something I projected on the people who asked. The only person I can say with certainty might have actually felt that way… is me. But when S said what she did, I quickly recognized there had been a gap in my thinking—

— because a “trip” and a “vacation” are different things. Maybe because we take “vacation time” from normal work to travel, “taking a vacation” has certain connotations. Like a good, successful vacation should be relaxing and fun and easy. I’ve never taken a luxury cruise, or been to an all inclusive resort, but these might seem like the ideal that other people with less time and resources should aspire to match—a complete escape from one’s daily life and freedom from the worries and decisions. And maybe you also learn about other cultures secondarily, but it’s not the primary impetus.

“Traveling” on the other hand, is like living your life in a different place. Though we always hope for life to easy, I don’t know that we generally expect it to be, and of course maybe it’s better for ones growth as a person to deal with some things that are hard. Maybe a main point of traveling is discovery; to learn about where and how other people live and navigate the unfamiliar, and then maybe, to imagine what one’s life would be in this different place, once the unfamiliar things had become familiar. Maybe the point of taking a trip—and maybe particular an ASR trip —is to be forced (or given the opportunity) to examine ones perspective. Such examination often leads to change, I guess. And change, as they say, it hard.

So Argentina was trip. It was traveling. Some plans fell through. Some plans came scarily close to falling through, but then didn’t. There were logistical issues, language mishaps, a minor injury. But having come out on the other side of things, I look back and feel like like dealing with those things was ultimately rewarding—an important reminder that I am always learning and can and will deal with whatever comes my way.

Why I’m Writing This on a Plane to Argentina

Dec 5, 2021

Wait, you’re probably thinking, Is she “literally” on a plan to Argentina, or is this going to be one of those posts where “flying to Argentina” is some weird metaphor? The answer is I am typing this on an American Airlines flight that just took off from Dallas Fort Worth, and in nine and a half hours will land in Buenos Aires.

The plane is full, it’s dimly lit. Some folks —including my traveling companion—have already taken their in-flight drugs and are sleeping, chins to chests. Glowing screens on the walls show our flight path, and more glowing screens on the seat backs silently play commercials, episodes of Ted Lasso, and movies with car chases and fight scenes. One contented baby is sleeping in the seat in front of me, while one discontented (and incredibly strong-lunged) baby cries across the aisle. It’s okay. I’m wearing earplugs.

But you don’t care about any of this – you’re wondering why I don’t get to the point and tell you why I’m on my way to Argentina. I’m procrastinating because the answer is a little embarrassing.

It’s because an astrologist told me to.

Some background:

A few years ago, a friend (who’d been having some good luck in love, career, etc,) told Paul that she had been consulting an astrologist, K, who specialized in Solar Returns. The idea has something to do with looking at the position of the stars when and where you were born and somehow using that information to calculate where your “best stars” are for any given year. The astrologist then recommends where on the globe you should spend her birthday, in order to mitigate transits that might be unlucky, and optimize what can be optimized.

That was the first year that, for our anniversary, Paul got us readings from K. I can’t say I exactly believe in the astrology, but I do believe in affirmations, and it seemed like taking a trip with one’s goals in mind is a strong affirming action. And it could also be fun. At the same time, it always feels a little “out there” to spend a lot of time effort and resources on an astrology trip… at least for me, if something feels too frivolous it becomes more stressful than fun. Paul is someone who takes big swings more in stride. He sometimes enjoys something more because it verges on the ridiculous!

For the last few years, things worked out in terms of our personalities. The first year I had the option of making a road trip to Eureka, California, while Paul went to Japan. The next year, I took a two hour flight on Southwest to Loreto, Mexico, while Paul journeyed to a small town in Italy. Last year, because of the pandemic, we told the astrologist to just give her best shot within driving distance. I got Goleta, California (near Santa Barbara) while Paul took a longer trip to Arizona.

But this year, when our recommendations arrived, the tables had turned. K noted that that even if Paul stayed in Los Angeles, it would be “neutral,” though he might improve his horoscope with a fairly easy trip to Hawaii.

But after that she said:

For Barrington the choice is much more difficult. She will have very bad transit trends for health this year (Saturn for about 4 months puts health at risk), so we need to do ASR possibly very protective for health and without dangerous values! In view of the heavy transits, I would like to offer you the best possible horoscope for health protection and throughout the US there are NO places that are completely safe! This means that I could NEVER make the positive prediction with birthday 2021 in the US (too bad stars).

Then she offered up my BEST options, which she said would be “VERY protective for health, with success in all kinds of projects and extraordinary benefits for human relationships and love, money and carrier.”

They were specific cities in:

Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina and Guyana.

The second best choice was in Barbados, which she said was protective for health, projects and relationships but with some stress for money with extra expenses throughout the year, (apparently because of Mars in the 2nd House—something astrologers will understand but not me). A third option was Guam. Lastly, she included Boston, although she described this as “NOT a completely safe horoscope. I can only propose it as a ‘less worse’ emergency solution.”

None of these were the kind of easy, inexpensive trip I was hoping for. Distracted by other things happening that evening— like watching our Creepshow episode for the first time and doing fun prep for a morning colonoscopy—I put it out of my mind.

Until, twelve hours later, I received the completely-out-of-the-blue cancer diagnosis.

Which certainly felt like a coincidence right after the big health warning. In several years, K has never been quite so specific or adamant about health. I figured it couldn’t hurt to explore the options. And, of course, planning a trip is more fun than planning a cancer journey…

Our friend Brazil didn’t have time for a road trip to the recommended city of Curitiba, and said he wouldn’t recommend trying to drive there from Sao Paulo during monsoon season.

Guyana—just a hop from Miami—was the closest and cheapest, but it had big red travel advisories for both Covid and a huge recent crime surge.

But then my friend, A, said, “I’ve been thinking about going to Argentina.” She speaks much better Spanish than me, and has a friend in Argentina who wants to show us around his city, which is midway between Buenos Aires and my “magic birthday destination” of Bahia Blanca. We’ve been friends for a long time, but have never traveled together and the idea started to seem more fun. Clearly, I’m at a place where the future is feeling uncertain, so… why not?

I’ll say again that I probably don’t believe in astrology, specifically. But from experience, I have to acknowledge that sometimes the universe gives you enough little pushes.

And that’s why I’m writing this post on a plane to Argentina!