People ask me, “Ken, why are you going to Argentina?”
It’s actually a two-part question. 1) Why are you going? And 2) Argentina? Let’s look at the questions separately.
First, why an I going to South America for six months? I am almost 50 years old and have never been out of the country. I didn’t even have a passport until this summer. I figured it was about time. Also, I teach English at a college. In my line of work, if we are fortunate enough to work for a really good, well-funded college, we can apply for sabbatical. A sabbatical is a chance to do something other than teach for half-a-year, at full pay. The proposal has to indicate how it will benefit both me and the college. In my case, I pointed out that we are having a large increase in our Latino student population, yet few of us can speak Spanish. The College agreed and funded my sabbatical.
Next, is my “list.” I didn't even make my list until I was 40. It was about that age I started feeling mortal. This is the “List of things I want to do before I die.”
Here is the list with current progress noted.
1. Run a marathon (completed in 1997 at age 40; I have since run 17)
2. Get a doctorate (accomplished that at 46)
3. Get a book published (I am possibly close to signing a contract)
4. Become fluent in another language (currently taking classes)
5. Live for an extended period of time in another country (going to Argentina in December 2006)
6. Own a racehorse--hopefully a winning one (maybe I can afford it after my book is published)
7. Build a house, maybe a vacation place, with my own hands
8. Learn to play the tuba or other brass bass.
9. Get elected to a political office.
10. Meet a president, not just a handshake, really meet him or her.
11. Set foot on every continent--no, spend the night and eat a meal at least.
The clever part is that I can accomplish both #4 and #5 with this 6-month trip. I can also chip away at #11.
Question #2: Why Argentina.
I have spent the past 18months preparing for this trip. My wife is coming with me so moving out to some small village in Guatemala is out-of-the-question. I also wanted to go someplace warm and escape the East Coast winter. As I have to continue to pay my US mortgage and other bills, I had limited money. After looking, and looking, and looking . . . I found Buenos Aires.
Argentina has a stable government, a 3:1 exchange rate (so my money can go 3X farther). Buenos Aires is a large city—about the size of Chicago—with beautiful architecture, varied culture, rich history, thoroughbred horseracing, really good beef and wine, and some of the most wonderful people in the world.
So I leave in 43 days.