So I’ve up and gone to Argentina, and boy has it been an awesome/weird/embarrassing trip already, as I’ve come to expect when I’m alone. I’ve already been here 3 days, and I want to remember as much as I can from this trip – hence, el blog. So let’s start this off with the 22 hours of travel it takes to get from Little Rock to Rosario.
My plane leaving Little Rock was scheduled for 3. My mom walked with me into the airport and we immediately hit a bump in the road. Already. I’d tried multiple times the night before to check-in to my flight, but it wasn’t allowing me to do so, so it was an old school check in for me. The lady asks for the normal things, passport, confirmation that I’d paid the reciprocity fee for Argentina, etc. But then she mentions something about a travel visa for Brazil, in which would be my last connecting flight that would land in Rosario. Honest to God it felt as if the world stopped spinning for a second. I can really draw out this part of the story because I was on a time limit and this felt like this was taking hours to work out, but I’ll make this quick: you need a travel visa if you’re going to be in a country for more than 7 hours (which I was not), so I merely had to prove that I had no plans to stay in Brazil and was trying to go on my happy way onto Argentina. Sounds simple, but this took FOR-EV-ER. There was another hiccup in Little Rock, for which I will claim 99% of the responsibility, but I remembered that I forgot to pay my reciprocity fee only seconds after setting foot in the airport. That wasn’t the hard part, I was able to whip out my computer and to take care of it. The hard part came when I needed to print this confirmation. Now, I may be optimistic here, but I figured there would be some place in the largest airport in Arkansas – I realize this isn’t saying much – that one could pay to print if necessary. WRONG WRONG WRONG. I’m still angry about this. Not for the simple fact that there isn’t some kind of business center for travelers to use (maybe a little upset about that), but because when I* asked the man at the customer service desk if there was any way I could pay to print, all he said was no. No explanation to follow, only a shoulder shrug and a no. Why did this make me so angry? He’s sitting at a computer next to an effing printer. HE IS THE 1% TO BLAME. You’re on my list old man.
Obviously, this was also resolved. Some asking around sent my mom and I to the administrative offices where we begged this nice lady at the front desk to print one sheet of paper for us. God bless khubbard at the Clinton Airport, it’s because of her I was able to even begin this journey.
I know that might not seem like the short-hand version of that story, but it is, and I still have a lot of feelings about it.
All of this ate up about an hour and a half of time. No I’m not joking and yes I wish I were. But I was able to say goodbye to my angel of a mother, walk through security, down the terminal, and straight onto the plane. So if you’re asking how close all those mishaps put me, that close, my friends.
Now is a good time to present the layout of this travel plan. What I was looking at was a 1 hour flight from LR to Houston, 3-4 hour layover in Houston, a 10 hour flight from Houston to Sao Paulo, Brazil, another 3 hour layover, then a final 3 hour stretch that would finally spit me out at my final destination.
LR to Houston: Easy. Even the 10 hour stretch from TX to Sao Paulo wasn’t bad (United had some kickass movie choices, I’d planned to sleep during that flight, but only ended up snoozing 2ish hours because I’m the worst at travel sleeping and I had a case of middle-seat misfortune.) Moving on. My second round of problems really started as soon as I landed in Brazil. And I shall now make an orderly list to explain my difficulties are entirely all my own fault:
- I had no idea if they were actually going to let me in the country (see travel visa above).
- While skilled in English and proficient in Spanish, I know absolutely no Portuguese. Not hello, not goodbye, not “where do I need to go to find my frickin plane,” the basics. I was in for a rude awakening when everyone and their mom tried to talk to me during that 3 hour layover.
- I discovered I have a 5-10 second delay of intelligence when it comes to hearing the difference between Spanish and Portuguese. I’m never quite sure if it’s actually Portuguese, or some Spanish accent that I should be able to understand but my Spanish isn’t at the level it should be. I’ll never know which happened more, but I got very good at the smile and shrug.
- I did finally find my gate, it was in a room with a million people (more likely a couple hundred) and a glass wall where all I could see was a line of buses. Of course my stupid brain’s first thought was, “Oh I thought I had a plane ticket, not a bus ticket.” In my defense, I was recovering from that 10 hour, middle seat flight, but I’m still an idiot. So I made it to my gate, but then….
- … I had a feeling I was forgetting something. I remembered that I needed to check in at the front gate or some simple task like that, but in that moment of panic I chose to instead sit perfectly still and pretend I didn’t exist for the next hour and a half, all the while airport personnel are on the intercom slinging Portuguese like there’s no tomorrow. Then I recognize something that’s said. I listen closer, and I can vaguely hear what sounds like “Anna Hi Heis.” Somehow that sent off alarms in my head, so I start going counter to counter trying to figure out what it is that I need to do and eventually I find an English speaker and get all checked in and what not.
- Remember those buses? Well I put my faith into following other people and luckily the bus took me to a plane that I was hoping would end up in Rosario, fingers crossed.
As luck would have it, that plane did take me where I needed to go, but not before I got to experience three more hours practicing my smile and shrug with the adorable older couple from Brazil that insisted on speaking Portu-nish to me for most of the flight. I can’t really complain though, they were really cute.
So I finally arrive and fumble my way through customs, which seems to be guaranteed awkward encounter when there’s even somewhat of a language barrier. I’m not ashamed to admit my Spanish was beyond rusty, but it’s already gotten better even in the last few days. Thus was the end of the 22 hour journey. I was excited, intimidated, exhausted, and a thousand other feelings, but I’m finally here and having the time of my life.
Until next time
*This was not actually me asking, because I have this unbearable habit of uncontrollable frustration tears, and the only way to ward them off is to not open my mouth and speak. S/o again to my superhero mom for picking up my slack (like always).