Third Time’s a Charm – Getting home during the pandemic

For the third time now, we have tickets to home.

On a flight to Miami via Eastern Air scheduled for April 18. 

It is not a repatriation flight which means we are not prohibited from boarding, but when we land we may have to show proof that we have onward tickets to Canada. No problem, because we also have American Airlines tickets from Miami to Toronto, scheduled for the next morning. Don’t know for sure, but we assume we have to overnight in the airport. We will see when we get there.

Being close to the International airport at Hostel Nagual, we can hear planes landing and taking off, the larger ones rattling our bedroom window. But craning necks as we do, we rarely see a plane. And the tracker app doesn’t match with the timing of the planes we hear. For the most part they are likely cargo flights to neighbouring countries like Chile and Brazil. But I always wonder. Where are they going? Who is on there?

Greenery sprouts from everywhere, Hostel Nagual, Argentina

Since the Canadian repatriation flight on April 5, there have been a few flights to countries in Europe. On April 8 there was a flight to France that flew half empty because although there are many French wanting to fly home, they couldn’t get to Buenos Aires. Repatriation flights are scheduled to Germany this Friday, and possibly Australia next week. Interestingly Americans and Brits complain that they’ve had no government organized flights out of Argentina.

Big rack for a little guy, we saw a herd of these fenced deer on the way to the store, Tristan Suárez, Argentina

Argentina’s reported Covid deaths are low. Possibly because regulations have been strict from the beginning. First, foreigners were required to quarantine for 14 days from time of arrival. Shortly after, the whole country was in quarantine until March 31. That was extended to April 13, which just was extended to April 26. Unlike Canada, there is no such thing as a gathering of 10. One person can go to the store, bank, or pharmacy. That’s it, no other movement permitted, without Official permission documents.

Through WhatsApp we keep in touch with other travellers in Argentina. Many of them want to drive to BA in hopes of getting a flight home. But it’s difficult.

Beautiful tree lined streets in this community of Tristan Suárez, Argentina

Since we arrived in the capital on March 25, the regulations for driving in Argentina have become increasingly restrictive. Right now, foreigners in the provinces can only drive to BA if they have a ticket for a flight departing within 24 hours. This allows very little time to drive a few thousand kilometres, drop your vehicle in safe storage, and then get out to the airport.

For those without vehicles, there is no functioning public transportation. So they need to organize a government authorized bus. To get enough bodies to pay the bus, you need people from various countries. Which is a catch 22, because the flights for different countries could be a week or more apart. You can’t get a flight ticket if your flight home is not yet scheduled. No flight ticket means you can’t get on the bus. By the time a flight becomes available, the bus has long gone.

So on What’s app, everyone has learned how to obtain a fake ticket, which is apparently 20 bucks and an hours wait. Who knew? But it’s a risk when you have a dozen police controls to pass through.

A colourful painting on the side of the school, Tristán Suárez, Argentina
Across the road from the hostel, horses in the churchyard

None of this affects our daily life.  And like a friend noted, “we aren’t hurting”. Bob and I have been the only hostel guests for a week now. Matias makes us breakfast every morning, and his girlfriend Yamile puts Bob through a workout most days. She owns a gym in Córdoba but is stuck here since Argentinians  can’t travel home either.

Bob and Yamile using wood logs as weights, Hostel Nagual, Argentina

It was raining on Monday so Yamile set up mats in the dining/lounge and I joined in the class. Cardio, core, stretching. Best was that while Bob went for a run, she gave me a massage. Excellent.

Yamile and me at the end of exercise class. Hostel Nagual, Argentina
Wearing masks, waiting in line at the store, Tristan Suárez, Argentina
Fall color, Tristán Suárez, Argentina

Some days we walk to the store by ourselves. Yesterday we went together. It’s a tranquil walk along roads full of fresh autumn air, crisp and woodsy. Leaves are falling, some changing to yellows and reds. Yet, flowers still bloom and bright crimson berries blanket lengths of dark green hedge.

Fall color, Tristán Suárez, Argentina
Small green parakeets enjoying the red berries on this hedge, Tristan Suárez, Argentina

Birds are abundant, providing constant chirps, whistles and chatter. Some we recognize like parakeets, hawks, hummingbirds, doves, blackbirds, a version of robin, but also many other songbirds we don’t know.

Colourful parakeet in the trees, Matias says it’s a Cotorra Argentina.

One day, two horses clip clopped up behind me on the road, and walked along beside for a ways. Like friends. They weren’t too chatty, but nevertheless were good company.

My walk to the store, accompanied by friends
A lot of signage for the size of the store! The handwritten signs on the door say “Only one person at a time” and “Store hours are from 8-1:30 and 5-8 pm. Closed Tuesday’s” , Tristan Suárez, Argentina

On Easter Sunday, my sister Eileen organized a family Zoom meeting with 17 joining in from across Canada. And us. Plus 3 cats. It worked well, and so great to actually see faces and hear voices.

Then on Monday, we had a Zoom Happy Hour with friends who are here in Argentina. Brits in an apartment in BA, and Kiwis camping in Zapala, near the Chilean border. Except for the hugs, zoom is almost as good as being together. Funny how it is so much easier to laugh on a face to face.

Zooming with friends for Happy Hour, Hostel Nagual, Argentina

Afterwards, I tried to explain Happy Hour to Yamile, but she had a hard time believing that we would have it BEFORE dinner.  Then she asked, “Like when Bob has a beer while he cooks?”  “No, not like that……with amigos….and jokes.” The concept went adrift, kerbobbled by culture, muddled by translation.

Yamile and Matias, Hostel Nagual, Argentina

6 Replies to “Third Time’s a Charm – Getting home during the pandemic”

  1. Crossing my fingers and toes that your flights go smoothly and as planned. How are you managing to store Vanna in Uruguay and get to the aeropuerto? Or have you made alternate arrangements for the vehicle. Look forward to hearing more of your plans. Saludo y buen viaje!

  2. Being optimistic hoping third try is the charm. I’ll feel better about it when you 2 are actually on the plane as I’m sure you will be too. The uncertainty is a b…h but you seem to be making the best of it. Stay safe. C/R

  3. Sure hope your flight home will go as planned tomorrow.
    Happy you are doing well where you are looks like a great place to
    be great pictures.
    Stay safe and take care.
    Mom.

  4. Sounds like you’ve had a wonderful trip! Here’s hoping things go well tomorrow and you get back to Brandon before long. A bittersweet time for you, I’m sure.

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