Wandering Cort #2 - Getting to Argentina
Travel to Argentina was the typical airline experience in these days of cutbacks. Steve picked me up at 5:30 AM to bring me to his house to meet his friend, who drove us to the Portland airport for our American Airline flight. The drive was uneventful. Lynn traveled out of Bend on United.
At check-in the American Airlines clerk asked us if we wanted to take an earlier flight to DFW that had been delayed. Our connection at DFW was rather short, so getting to Dallas earlier seemed like a good idea. I had a 1st Class seat because that was the only seat I could get with my Alaska Airlines miles. Steve paid for his flights and was happy to get aisle seats. This "earlier flight" left about the time our original flight was supposed to depart. Our original flight left some time after that. Glad we changed.
At DFW there was a sports bar across from our gate. Steve wanted to eat, since there would not be dinner in economy class. I wanted to watch the beginning of the Duck game against USC. This was a high profile Game Day event pitting two top ten teams against each other. Our server tried to find the game for me on ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC. Every channel had a Texas game. I guess the folks in Texas do not care what happens outside their little empire.
Time ran out for me and I had to board the plane. I was sitting in 1st class, so asked the flight attendant if she could get the game on my screen. She checked with the captain. He could not get the game, but he promised to find the score for me. When I woke up the next morning, just before landing in Buenos Aires, the flight attendant told me that the Ducks won the game. I knew that we had a good team, but I worried about the USC game. Great news to wake up to.
At the airport, I exchanged money in the baggage claim area. I got 331 Argentine Pesos for $100. I found out later that Lynn walked 20 feet further and got nearly 400 pesos for $100. Experience pays.
My American flight landed at the International airport in BA. Our flight to Ushuaia was scheduled to fly from the domestic airport, so Steve & I took a taxi for the 45 minute drive to the domestic airport. We could not check in because our flight did not leave for 4 hours. An hour later we checked in and got our boarding passes, but we did not know what gate to go to because it was not posted yet. Finally about 2 hours before the flight it showed up on the display with "See Agent" instead of a gate number.
During this 2 hours of waiting for our flight, I birded out the window, since the airport is along a river. Another traveler saw me looking out the window with my binoculars. He was a birder, who had traveled extensively in South America. He helped me identify several species. Every bird except one that I saw was a new life bird for me, since I had never birded in South America before. The one familiar bird was the ever present House Sparrow.
We returned to the Aerolineas Argentinas counter and learned that our plane had been diverted to the International airport. We were instructed to go to baggage claim to retrieve our luggage, then wait in line for a bus to take us back to the International airport. We found Lynn on our way to baggage claim.
Baggage claim is in a secure area but the security guard let us go in the exit to look for our bags. We found them and walked away with them without being questioned or asked to prove the luggage was ours. Fake security.
I enjoyed the scenery and even identified a couple more birds at 50 mph from the bus window.
Back at the Intl Airport, we discovered that our flight was delayed by a couple of hours, so we found a place to eat. The security for our domestic flight from the Intl airport was minimal. Our carry-on luggage was x-rayed, but the belt ran so fast, I doubt that the security agent would have caught anything.
Most of Argentina south of BA looked dry and desolate. We stopped briefly in Calafate. There was no visible town, just an airport. Most of the people getting off the plane looked like rugged outdoor adventurers headed for climbing and ski mountaineering in Patagonia and the southern Andes. (I found out later that Calafate is a major tourist destination for trips to Los Glaciares National Park and the mountains Cerro Chalten and Cerro Torre. I met some people on the Ocean Nova, who spent a few days exploring the Calafate area. The highlight of their visit to Calafate was seeing Perito Moreno Glacier calve, while on a boat tour of Lago Argentino.)
Lynn, Steve, & I took a taxi to the Los Nires Hotel. We arrived around 9:30 PM and headed to the bar for a night cap before retiring for the night. While waiting for our drinks, we looked at the menu and realized that we were hungry. We ordered some food and wine and ended up getting to bed around midnight.