We are back!
On Tuesday night we arrived in Buenas Aires. It has been 3 years since we left here, making our way home at the start of the pandemic in 2020.
It was a 24 hour journey. Our flights were Calgary – Vancouver- Mexico City – Buenas Aires. The first flight left late due to de icing, leaving us to run through the Vancouver airport to get our gate on time. We left Vancouver late also and arrived in Mexico City with only 2 hours to our next flight. To our dismay we disembarked on the tarmac and had to board a bus and wait for it to fill, before driving slowly to the terminal. We anxiously looked at our watches.
Running through Vancouver airport was not too difficult. Running through the ginormous Mexico City airport on fat aging legs was torture. Checkpoint after checkpoint and then a stop for new boarding passes, then the baggage check, the body check with arms up, arms down, turn around and you get spit out. Still 40 more gates to go. Fortunately that flight was delayed by an hour and we arrived in time to board. Unfortunately, I happened to check my phone and discovered that our expected pick up in Buenas Aires had been cancelled. Cristian who has taken care of Vanna all of this time, said he could not find a driver and it would be a dangerous drive that late at night.
So it was alarming that we were now set to arrive in Buenos Aires near midnight, with no one picking us up and no hotel booked. Bob had to run to the bathroom. So as the boarding line moved forward, I held my phone and credit card in one hand, typed with the other and shuffle kicked my suitcase forward, frantically searching for a hotel near the airport. The reservation whirled around and around, then went through just before we boarded. Thank you booking.com!
Cristian’s response also made us question our late arrival time and we worried that maybe the airport closed at midnight. Is taking a taxi at midnight unsafe? But then, get a grip. Look around. With 9 seats across, there are hundreds of people on this plane. They are all arriving in BA at midnight too. And many of them have to be taking taxis to somewhere.
As we flew I remembered the last time we were in the Buenos Aires airport. It’s a haunting picture in my mind, of a dimly lit building, mostly vacant roped off spaces. No shops. No music. No seats. No lounge chairs. Just one line of people, wearing home sewn face masks, quietly staring at nothing, waiting to board the only outgoing flight that day.
But when we arrived Tuesday night that picture changed. The airport was vibrant, full of families and friends, beautiful shops, lots of lighting, lively restaurants, and lovely lounge areas. Like an airport should be. I am so glad we returned just to replace those memories.
We took an official airport taxi to our hotel. It was a crazy high speed ride, at times with no hands on the wheel. No surprise there. Our room was plain but clean and spacious with air conditioning so we had a comfortable night. In the morning we walked down the quaint indoor outdoor strip mall to a breakfast buffet included in our room price. It was nice just to relax.
Vanna has been stored at a place called Andean Roads. They provide van storage, camping spots, and motor home rentals. To get there, the hotel desk clerk found us a taxi. Just as we were leaving our room Bob accidentally dropped his wallet into the garbage bin. The newly acquired Argentinian money fluttered everywhere. He hastily retrieved it and we set off.
Too late, Bob realized that his debit card had also fallen in the waste basket and he hadn’t noticed it while gathering up the bills. Bye bye debit card. He is pretty bummed now because he may not be able to access his bank account online. No worries, we will be fine.
It was a long taxi ride to Andean Roads. Buenos Aires is immense. We passed through areas of old industrial buildings, then apartments, then stretches of nothing but grass. And that rotation of buildings and then nothing kept repeating. Possibly we were skirting the perimeter. Eventually we arrived at Andean Roads. It’s in a park like setting behind a brick wall with a thick iron gate. We immediately reunited with Vanna. It felt good to finally see her. Last week Cristian had the Mecanico wash her and do a start up. For $90 US. She looks fantastic.
As we stood looking at Vanna, the guys told us that one day an American came and said this was his van. So they let him look through it. Que? But he went away and presumably left empty handed. Also weirdly, when the doors first opened, a paper bag bundle caught my eye. It looked very strange and turned out to be a wrapped up pair of ladies sandals two sizes too big for me. Que whose are they? No idea.
So in the blazing heat of 38 C, the Mecanico jump started Vanna, and she roared with enthusiasm. Bob drove her out of the parking area and into a shaded camp spot. Here we will stay until all paperwork and van maintenance has been completed. We got plugged in, a fan going, and made a trip to the tienda for vegetables, coffee, bread and water. Oh yes, and a few cervecas.
We have a solar panel on Vanna’s roof which powers a separate battery that sits behind the drivers seat. This battery keeps our fridge running at 4 degrees C. It’s a nice treat in hot weather. Of course it has been disconnected over the 3 years. Intending to charge up that battery Bob momentarily forgot the voltage difference. It’s 220 here while North American stuff is wired for 120. So the battery charger was plugged into 220. It immediately blew up. Sparks flew, smoke erupted. Bye bye battery charger.
Turns out we are not back to full speed on this travelling stuff.
Our big worry the past 3 years has been the interruption (interdiction) of the vehicle permit. We had requested one but never had a response. Without it, the permit expires and expiration equals trouble. Big fines or confiscation. So we did not know if the interdiction had ever been completed. We had a pleasant surprise when Sebastian pulled out a file in the office. It held our completed interdiction. Yay! With this paper, everything should go well at the Aduana.
Emphasis on should.
Next up is a trip to the Aduana, a new battery for Vanna and some fresh gasoline. And everything in the van has to be washed and resorted.
No rest for the wicked.