When days break sunny and warm, I’m eager to go for a walk. But I need someone to push my wheelchair: sidewalks are bumpy or cracked, making it impossible for me to wheel myself, let alone travel over the irregular ramps at the intersections. When I asked a friend if coffee shops had refitted their bathrooms to make them wheelchair-accessible, he said he didn’t know – Argentineans have gradually become aware of the needs of people with physical disabilities, but awareness has not been followed by government policies and laws or by their enforcement. But so far, I’ve been too tired to go out of my mother’s home. Even the idea of riding a bus with someone coming along with me is scary – the memory of my youth in Buenos Aires where I was riding buses that were unprepared for people with disabilities is enough to discourage me.
So, regardless of the kindness of porteños, who offer their help right away when they see me in a wheelchair, and the willingness of my nurse aids and my mother’s maids to come to my aid at all times, being in Buenos Aires turns my bed and wheelchair into unsurpassable borders – the carpet and the sidewalks look like endless expanses challenging me to cross them.