Hola de Argentina
Trip Start Aug 03, 2008
23Trip End ??? ??, 2008
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I'll start off by apologizing for the length of this. I just have a lot to say right now, and don't have any friends here to say them to.
My flight from MSP to ATL went swimmingly. I sat next to a woman who was either: a) really interesting, or b) a compulsive liar. She recently broke her ankle climbing Kilimanjaro, her sister just bought Nicole Kidman's old house, used to own a camel (2-humped, they're way better) and she's the national operations manager for a billion dollar accounting firm. Why she was flying coach is beyond me. She was really nice though, definitely good for conversation even if her half of it was all b.s.
The flight from Atlanta to Santiago went fairly well. I got my first taste of the language barrier, as I sat in silence for 9 hours and 8 minutes next to a Chilean man. He also seemed to be nice though. There was some bad turbulence, and when I was kind of half out of it I thought for a second the plane was going to rip open and everybody would get sucked out like in the movies, but thankfully this was not the case.
At the airport in Santiago, I was a bit peeved that nobody could tell me how I was going to get my boarding pass. Luckily I found another guy from George Washington U who was also going to Buenos Aires through my program and was also having the same problem. It's funny that even the people at the help desks wouldn't offer help. So we just went to the gate that popped up on the TV and waited. Then the gate and departure time changed, so we went to that gate. Then it changed again. And so on and so forth.
During the wait, I did get to order my first food in Spanish from Dunkin Donuts. "Coffee Koolatte, por favor". It was difficult, but I persevered.
I ended up sitting next to the guy, Josh, from my program on the plane from Chile to Argentina, so that was lucky. It was a little and crappy plane, but it didn't clunk out.
After thinking that my luggage had been lost, we got a bus ticket more into the center of Buenos Aires. There, we had the option to pay 35 pesos ($12) for them to get us a cab, or to go out on the street to hail one by ourselves. Even though it was cold (low 50's) and raining, we decided to be adventurous, and hail.
The first taxi we got wasn't big enough for both of us so I told Josh to take it and I'd easily find another one. I got a cab to stop about a minute later, but as soon as I told him where I was going, he sped off, saying something in Spanish like, "I'm not taking you and all that shit to Recoleta!"
Anyway, I found a guy who would take 'me and all my shit' about 2 minutes later, so it was no big deal.
Now, on to the driving. You've heard about it, you've read about it, but nothing can compare to actually experiencing the thrill of riding in a car in Buenos Aires. I'm not exaggerating when I say the lines are given NO attention whatsoever. We came within an inch of clipping at least a dozen vehicles. That takes skill. Another cab driver was crowding mine... So what did my guy do? Naturally, pulls out a fire-extinguisher, and aims it at the other cab's windshield. This intimidation (I hope that's all it was) tactic worked. I traveled a solid distance to my host mom's apartment for only 15 pesos (5 dollars) but the cab driver then allegedly only had enough change to give me 20 back from a 50, meaning I saved about a dollar through this whole excursion.
My host mom, Mary Murphy, seems very nice. Her 6th floor apartment is beautiful and impeccable, so that's a little intimidating. I'll take pictures of it all sometime when she's not home. My room is nice and big. She has four grown kids in their 20's and 30's, and I think she's probably in her late 50's (I didn't ask). I've also seen no evidence nor heard any mention of a husband (again, I didn't ask).
Alright, I'm dead after a solid 22 hours of travel. Goodnight.