A friend of mine sent me a message through Facebook the other day, “You are so brave… I completely admire you doing this.”
She literally put into print what I was thinking. I thought it was just me who felt the nerves. And when I booked this trip, I really had to do some harsh self-talk to get myself to push the button.
I’ve traveled quite a bit on my own in the last few years but to places in North America and the Caribbean – countries that speak my language (in the very great majority of the cases).
Saturday, as I sat in Pearson International Airport in Toronto awaiting my long flight to carry me to Buenos Aires, it really hit me – OMG, how am I going to make out in a predominantly Spanish country? I have my little Lonely Planet South American Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary handy but really, I’m sure it’ll take me more time to look things up than play charades to get what I need.
The first person I encountered at the airport was the customs gal, (it was a domestic – not Buenos Aires’ international airport) who spoke very little English. That was certainly fun when she was asking me where I was staying among a bunch of other things I just shrugged at. Pretty pleased with myself, I had my condo address and a map to it printed on a piece of paper so I could give it to her.
Thankfully, she was happy with that and waved me on my way.
Whew, one challenge passed.
Then, after gathering my luggage from the whirling conveyor belt, I made my way to exit the area but nope, you have to go through scanners – I mean not you but all your luggage and handbags. Awesome. I’m a girl and I’m going away for a whole month. Bet you can guess that my luggage isn’t overly easy to lift up and put down again and again. And then the customs woman there asked me a question. Oh gawd, I have no idea what she’s saying to me. I said, “Parlez vous Ingles?” Yup, I did it again – mixed French and Spanish together to well, I guess… make up my own language!
Exasperated with me, she waved me on. I was free to go.
Yipee, challenge number two won.
Then, I passed through the security doors that separate the arrivals from all the happy greeters and there were about 10 kiosks for taxis. I went to the first one. “It’ll be 20 – 25 minutes,” he said (hey – he spoke English!). I said, “That’s fine. I can wait. I need one regardless.” To that he replied, “No. Go next door.” So, I went to the next kiosk. Same thing – a wait, move on lady. Threes a charm they often say, and after I paid $285 pesos (yup – they use the dollar sign too, just to confuse us foreigners) I was asked to wait to the side and the taxi driver would come inside to collect me. Well, he was there in less than five minutes and took over my heaviest bag, pushing it through the crowded airport a short distance until we arrived at his car.
He spoke no English.
But, remember I came prepared with that piece of paper with the address of my condo, along with the map. No problema! In less than 30 minutes, I was helped with my luggage and the nice taxi driver even pushed the buzzer and waited until I was let safely into the building.
He got a big smile and a nice tip.
I was let into the building by the manager, Jose, who led me up to the office to sign the necessary paperwork and to give me the key. He took a copy of my passport, slid three pages over the desk and asked me to sign. I read them over, pretty standard stuff: Don’t lose the key; it’ll cost you $25US to replace it, the dates of my stay, etc. All seemed to be in order. I signed it, got the key and he helped me up to what will be my home for the next month.
It’s a perfect condo.
Located within walking distance of everything I need (groceries, Diet Coke, restaurants, the office, etc.), nice and bright and clean, and the king-size bed is very comfy. I’m set!
So, here I’m going to wrap it up for this post but I’ll pop back in here often and let you know of my adventures here in beautiful South America.
Hope you’re enjoying your day wherever you are!
Hey – before I go… have you ever been to Buenos Aires, or even Argentina in general? Would love your recommendations for things to do, places to eat, cool shops you may have found. Let me know in the comments below. Thx!