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Living the South American Dream

24 hours of torment.

ARGENTINA | Sunday, 28 February 2010 | Views [480]

Where to begin? The last 24 hours (well 36 or thereabouts) have been up and down and all around. I’m starting to think if the rest of the trip is going to be anything like this I will run out of time to record everything.

First of all I arrived in Sydney international airport at the correct time on Friday morning for a 12:45pm flight. What a surprise when I checked in I was informed that the flight with Aerolineas Argentinas to Auckland (stopover on its way to Buenos Aires) was delayed 1 hour. Furthermore, I would be spending the night in Auckland. Crap! That’s ok, an opportunity to see Auckland? No such Luck. 3 hours of delays later we were told we would not be going to Auckland today because a faulty navigation light prevented the plane from landing in Auckland at night. Ok so they say they will put us up for the night. Yay! Free hotel.  Wrong again.

“Ladies and Gentlemen su attencion por favour (your attention please). Due to the docking of 2 cruise ships and Mardi Gras this weekend Aerolineas Argentinas was able to only find 116 available rooms in Sydney”.

Riiight. So with 300 passengers without a flight where do we all go? Ok so back I went to my friends place in Sydney and more or less spent the night waiting for the morning, 6:30am check in.

Got to airport, checked in late and had to run to board on time missing out on the opportunity to cash in my complimentary meal ticket. Damn it!

We were in the air!!! Finally, I had half expected a resounding cheer to erupt from the passengers when we were airborne. Flight was fine and over quicker than I hoped. I also had the pleasure of sitting next to a lovely Colombiana called Ingrid and we chatted for half the flight.

Anyway. When we touched down in Buenos Aires I was ecstatic. Finally in South America. Until I realised something was wrong. When we disembarked and waited for our bags we were told no flights were going into or out of Santiago (in Spanish of course). I made out one word that I understood “Terremoto” (earthquake).

I was terrified for Andres and to make matters worse no one was speaking in English (my Spanish is ok but I have a lot of trouble listening and understanding). Thankfully James (another aussie who speaks English and Spanish) stuck by my side and we got on brilliantly. Phew! Cleared immigration in Argentina and waited and waited and waited for our bags.

30 of us were then told Aerolineas would cover our stay at The Savoy in Buenos Aires until we could fly back to Santiago. I was desperate (and still am) to get to Andres but the hotel is exquisite. Crystal chandeliers, large plinth chairs, a life size porcelain horse in the entrance and a grand, winding staircase. Opulent and dramatic the hotel is delightful and has full amenities (excluding gym and pool, both of which I am desperate for after the airline food). I have subsequently been adopted by several of “Las Madres” (the mothers) in the group who take great delight in challenging my Spanish and affectionately patting my arm during broken conversation as I vainly attempt to fully understand their fluent and rapid Spanish.

We have two nights here (maybe three if the airport remains closed, we will request Aerolineas to pay for a third night if that is the case) and I intend to make the most of it. Early morning stroll revealed a distinctly European influenced city with grand, gilded edifices and elegant and beautiful buildings constructed next to practical and modern designs. A little on the dirty side and with the distinct odour of motor vehicle pollution pervading the olfactory senses, my first venture outdoors (alone) revealed more or less what I had expected for the city. Incidentally there is a MacDonald’s 2 doors down from the hotel lol.

Oh and no jet lag!!!! I have already acclimatised more or less and feel fantastic. Spanish is improving exponentially in the first 24 hours. All I need now is my heart and soul back by my side and I will be ready to begin the trip J


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