Day 111: December 3, 2007 BA to Río Gallegos
Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
202Trip End Mar 01, 2008
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I got up at 7:30 and showered. The desk gave me the phone number for the US Embassy so I inquired if it would be possible to get more pages in my passport since I was about to run out of space for new visas and still have seven years before this passport expires. The guy insured me I could so Elise and I took a cab over to the Embassy at Colómbia and Libertador in Palermo. We stood in the wrong line outside the embassy, in the blazing sun, for about 10 minutes before a guy informed me that I could go right in to the consulate office and go to Window 15.
We walked in and I had an immediate feeling of déjà vu of every DMV Office I had ever been in. Fortunately, the line at Window 15 was short so I got everything set in motion quickly. Elise went back to the hotel after an hour and a half of waiting. I got my amended passport a half an hour later and returned to the hotel at 11:30.
The hotel was in a state of renovation so their depósito was closed, making it impossible for us to store our extra luggage there during the 2-week Patagonia trip. I called the Fulbright Commission but they will be closed on the day that the women return to Buenos Aires so leaving the bags there was not an option. Finally, I walked around the corner and made a reservation at the Crystal Suites Hotel, on Uruguay, and left the bags with them. They were very friendly and most accommodating. I hated to cancel on the 8 de Octubre but really didn't see any other option.
Once that was taken care of, Elise, Elena, and I got a light lunch while Shirl guarded our traveling bags. Once we returned, we took two cabs over to Aeroparque and entered the airport. Momentos Argentinos began to appear, almost by the minute. As usual, Aerolineas Argentinas was complete chaos. We got our boarding passes but the gate wasn't posted until boarding time. We strode out the tube to the plane and walked down the stairs to get on to the waiting bus which took us out to the plane. The plane was stifling as we entered. The steward announced they were having trouble with the air conditioning--duh. Tensions mounted with the temperature to near riot conditions over the next half hour before they finally let us off the plane and took us back to the terminal while they tried to fix the problem. We sat there for an hour before reboarding. Nothing had improved on board but this time, they got us airborne fairly quickly so that air conditioning was not really a problem. Once in the air, things were much better and we had a smooth, easy flight to Río Gallegos.
We landed in the newly renovated airport and took a remis into town under a fairly stiff wind as the sun set, around 9:30. The driver convinced me to contract his company to take us to the Cabo Virgenes pinguinera (penguin rookery) the following day. He dropped us off at the Apart Hotel Austral where we got an nice, and interesting two-floor, quadruple suite with a kitchen.
The hotel recommended the Restaurante El Roco, three blocks up the street. Shirl and I had lamb while the girls had salmon. The food was great! It was almost midnight as we approached the hotel. Elena, Elise, and I went to an internet place until 1:00 while my mother turned in. I was beat when I got back and had no trouble falling asleep.