Tag Archives: Argentina

And it all comes tumbling down

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I arrived in Argentina full of fire and passion; ready to take the country by storm. I had my immigration forms filled out and checked, and I had double-checked my CouchSurfing host while I was at the hostel that morning. With my notebook full of phone numbers and directions to her house I had boarded the plane with a feeling of invulnerability which lasted exactly up until I realized that I was fucked, completely and totally.

I walked into the immigration section of the airport, adjusted my bag, threw my jacked over my shoulder and walked into the line. Then, I reached for my passport and the immigration forms I had filled out earlier. Reached for, but didn’t grab. I had put them between my jacket and my bag, theoretically to keep them safe from being bent but in reality so that they could fall out without me noticing.

Yep, thats right. I was in a foreign country, not even past immigration, with no passport. Now, that doesn’t seem so bad on the onset, and I wasn’t too worried at first, assuming that it was on the bus or the pavement outside. I checked, not on the pavement. I checked the entryway, not in the entryway. I asked the guys nearby if they could call the bus back to check it, they checked and none of the buses had seen anything. Well… maybe its on the airplane? Nope, though the cleaning crews HAD gone through already, but they’d never throw out a passport. What they would throw out, however, was the folder that I had my immigration papers inside of. The folder that I also had my passport in. The folder that was now gone.

I knew that a passport was an important document, quite possibly my MOST important document, but what I didn’t know was that a passport is, in the eyes of officials, the only thing that can enter a country. The person is merely the vessel that carries the passport, and no other form of “identification” can substitute. After none of the folks who had helped me search for the missing document were able to help, I was assigned a rep from LAN airlines, the outfit that had flown me in. When I first met her I knew I was in trouble; she didn’t speak more than a few dozen words of English, and did not seem at all inclined to listen to me or try to help. Her only job, from the moment she met me, was to make me go away and leave them alone.

It turns out the solution to my stubborn existence was waiting on the tarmac, fueled and prepped to go and fly me away. My liason, excitement etched into her features, told me that she had finally contacted the main office, and they had set everything up for me; I was going to be flown back to Boston via Sao Paulo, the airport that I had just come from, and the airport that a plane was just not about to leave on. They handed me my checked luggage, put a tag on it, and the maintenance crews stowed it away while I got onto the flight. My liason even gave me a kiss on the cheek for good luck.

The flight back to Sao Paulo was actually the best flight I’ve had so far, thanks to one simple phone call I made while we were still on the tarmac. I had been keeping my mom up-to-date via text, so now that I was set I gave her a ring and told her the whole story, ending the call after a good 10min of talking and complaining about everything. I had been seated next to a fairly amazingly hot latina woman and the guy I thought to be her boyfriend, and he quickly asked me what had happened, apologizing for having overheard my rant. We then launched into a full-on chatting session, telling each other all about our trips so far.

  • They’re from Portugal, and speak extremely good English
  • They’re a newlywed couple on their honeymoon, taking two months off work to travel South America (a present from multiple family members)
  • Bolivia is awesome, and they had pictures to prove it
  • Europeans favor boring and simple wedding bands, unlike crazy-cool ones from the States
  • Buenos Aires can be more dangerous than I thought, but the key is to be smart; Camera’s are the primary thing stolen on the street, from what they said
  • Life without a passport sucks

After the first few hours of chatting we all sat back and chilled out; I spent some time reading and dozing off while they read some magazines and played what looked to be a rather epic game of sudoku. We finally landed in Sao Paulo and I was ready to face the world again; from what the LAN rep in Buenos Aires had told me there would be a person waiting for me as soon as I got out of the plane.

And, for once, everything went to plan. While there wasn’t anyone directly outside, I did find some people right outside the gate who were more than willing to help me out, though it did take a while since they were also boarding another plane at the time. After the boarding was done their supervisor came to talk to me, and we finally got down to the brass tacks of getting me back into the trip. He looked some stuff over, called Buenos Aires, and generally seemed to be laying it out and getting shit done. He asked if I had any ID on me, and if I had any information about my future flights, and I gave them to him on the assumption that he’d be looking them over and giving them back. And when I handed those over, I quite possibly made the worst mistake of the day, second only to not putting my passport back into my pocket. Welcome to my life in the airport.

Traveling from Venezuela to Argentina

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I got up on Monday ready to take on the day; I had woken up early and had my stuff packed up pretty quick, so I spent the rest of the morning grabbing some quick breakfast, wandering around the area, and reading in the hostels library.

Ana and I met up around 1:00, packed the rest of my gear up and stashed it in the hostels saferoom, and then took a walk around the city to see a few last sights before I headed off to the airport. We ate some Cochabas for lunch, and I immediately fell in love with them. Seriously amazing. See the recipe below. After eating we headed into the main city to explore for a bit, going to see the nicer portions that I had missed before. Ana left me for a bit to put an hour or two in at her job, and I spent the time wandering around the financial district of Caracas; marveling at how shining skyscrapers could stand directly next to a cold-war era building that looked like it had been shelled out. Its honestly impressive, and does wonders for making the shiny skyscrapers look even better

While waiting for Ana the skies decided that I CLEARLY wasn’t wet enough, and decided to help me cool down with a quick shower. Luckily I was right near the enteraence to the main mall, so I ducked in and spent the rest of the hour reading from my kindle (stealthily hidden in one of my other books, so I just looked like another Venezuelan dude chilling out with a tattered notebook).

After a bit Ana finished up and we headed back to the Hostel to get my bag. The rest of the evening was pretty standard-issue, though I did get a nice surprise when I went to pay my “exiting fee” from Venezuela: my outbound ticket had already covered it in the price. Nice, don’t need to burn an extra $50, I am not complaining. I got into the airport with just enough time to pick up some food (yay Burger King! I don’t know which is worse: that I ate my first Whopper in Venezuela, or that I paid $9.50 to do so) and make a quick skype call to my mom to let her know that I was fine and boarding successfully. And then we were airborn, heading south to the connector in Brazil.

Side Note: The city lights of the Barrio’s outside Caracas are amazing, and I’m really glad I flew out at Night so I could see them now that I know what they are.

I woke up with a start when the wheels touched the ground; I had slept clean through all the warnings about landing and everything. Impressive. I de-planed, found my gate (where I’d be boarding in 6 hours), and set myself up for a nice internetting session. Not to let life be easy, Sao Paulo’s WiFi is deceptively cheap at $1 an hour or so, but impossible to access unless you’re quite fluent in Portuguese. They even have a language tab that only has one setting: “not a language you speak, sucker!” I tried to bumble my way through it, but in the end contented myself with saved videos and some more reading. Maybe a bit of music too.

My flight boarded smoothly, and I slept through again; both times I had a window seat with the middle empty, so I was feeling pretty good and relaxed once we touched down in Buenos Aires. I had woken up a bit early so that I could fill out the immigration paperwork, thinking I’d be saving myself some time in the lines. Instead, I was carefully and meticulously filling out the form that would herald the destruction of this part of my trip…

 

Yay cliff-hangers! And recipes!

 

Cochabas Recipe (for one person)

  • Cornbread batter (go a bit heavy on the corn though)
  • Butter
  • Cheese (thick white cheese)
  • Ham slices, thin

 

Prep:

  • cook the cornbread batter on a hot skillet exactly as you would a pancake; layer it just as thick
  • once its pretty much done spread some butter on it and let it head butter-side down for a few seconds
  • Put the cheese on half of the “pancake”, and layer the ham on top of it
  • Fold like an omlet
  • let it heat for a bit, flipping it twice or so. Make sure the cheese is nice and gooey.
  • Cut it in half (so its quarters of a circle), and serve!