It's been 10 days since I returned. My bacterial friends that I brought back with me have, as far as I can tell, left me for good. I feel better everyday. Hence, I now am beginning to look back upon my trip fondly rather than just focuses on why that cheese and salami sandwich made me feel so bad. I thought of eating salami still disgusts me. Intellectually, I know that the sickness and the salami are not related, but emotionally, I may be scarred for some time.
I left for Patagonia back on Feb 9. Nice 7am flight from SFO. A 6 hours layover in Miami. The Miami airport is a dump. Could not wait to get out of there. My seat assignment got screwed up and they would not let me on the plane. I stood in the line watching bumped passengers get booked on other flights, while they kept announcing that everyone should be on board. Eventually, they called me by name and that spurred them to actually help me rather than just announce that I should be on the plane repeated. Seat got fixed and I, quite grateful, left for Buenos Aires.
First day is always terrible. Nothing fun happens; just bad. Leave my girlfriend for 5 weeks. Not a fun departure. Then have nothing else to think about for hours on the flight, hours on the ground in Miami, and more hours on the flight to BA. I call all my family from Miami. Seemed like a good idea before I left, but I really did not feel like talking to anyone once I got there. But I said that I would, so I did. And it did kill an hour or so.
This trip has me more wigged out than others that I have taken. The only theory for that is that it's a spanish speaking country and mi espanol no es bueno. But this is a nonsense theory as I have wondered about Spain without speaking any Spanish without any difficulty. All I know for sure is that I'll be a lot more comfortable once I have been in country a day or so and have figured out how find food and housing and how to get around.
I don't recall much from either flight. I read a lot. I had brought a particularly heavy book and wanted to finish it during my flights. I did. I slept for 3 hours from Miami to BA. Better than nothing, but surely to be tired on day.
Day 2- Bariloche
Things start to go better once in BA. Clear immigration and customs without saying a word. There is a secluded area in the arrival area that has a few vendors. I want to book my shuttle to Aeroparque, the local airport across town, but I do not have Argentine money and there is no ATM in the arrival area. But luck is with me and the shuttle takes credit cards. I could have exchange some US$, but my plan is to use those for emergencies only and use ATMs to all my Peso needs. Once clear of the arrival area, I spot an ATM. Still lucky, the ATM spits out some pesos. And right in front of me is the phone center. Hop inside and call my hostel, who wants to cancel my reservation if I do not call from inside the country. Also call Sharyl and wake her up. All things told, a perfect arrival.
Then it's out to catch my shuttle. I have a few hours and could conceivably do some things in BA, but I want the least risk in jeopardizing my flight to Bariloche, so I go straight to el aeroparque. BA appears to be mile after mile of dilapitated apartment buildings. Shuttle stops downtown, but I do not have to get off. It's just a couple of miles from there to el aeroparque. Check in is a circus. But this works out for me as I spot on empty line. Lady forgets to tag my bag; no telling where it would have ended up. I suggest that she do so and she does. 22kg (48#) for my backpack. This is for 4 days of food, no water and my top pouch not counted. This allows me to pay an extra baggage fee. 28 wampum, or US$7. Once I clear security, el aeroparque is quite the nice airport. 3 hours to kill. I eat my first Argentinian meal. My meal costs "veinte cinco - twenty-five." I cannot quite express it in writing, but 7 weeks later I'm still hearing it.
Seats on the flight are knee busting tight. Thankfully, the plane is really empty (dispite the travel agent rushing me to book because the flights were "filling up fast" 8 weeks early), so I get a row to myself. Sleep a bit. Read a lot. Land.
My cookies set off the Perkin-Elmer organic detector, so I get a hand inspection. Sharyl always wants to bake me cookies for my trips, which is really nice, but these cookies cannot stand up to travel and I end up eating them with a spoon. Inspection lady spots my Sidney Sheldon book and this gets us talking, which permits me to ask here about the city bus from the airport. 4:10 and costs 2 pesos. Not sure how I would have figured this out otherwise. Probably would have taken a cab. Bus is okay, but it's a guessing game where to get off. Bariloche is not huge, but the wrong stop could have me walking 4 km. I do better than that and only have to walk 1km to my hostel.