Monthly Archives: May 2013

You Have Got to Be Kidding

My new lady friend and I were seated next to each other in the front row (fear not, there was no first class on this flight). We were seated across from the flight attendant in her jump seat so my new friend and her had a lively conversation and I could pick up a little bit so I could nod where appropriate.

The welcome message was in Spanish followed by an English version that was more Spanglish — and more on the Span. I understood her but in the chaos of an emergency, probably not.

The flight attendant did drink service and the flight was bumpy but pretty uneventful. It was definitely dark when we left and I was relieved I had a place to tell a taxi upon arriving in Mendoza.

About halfway into the flight, the flight attendant got a call from the pilots. She made an announcement in Spanish and I paid no attention thinking it would come in English any second.

She never said it in English. But my new friend turned to me and did the translation.

She told me we are turning around.

I thought she was joking. Her face told me she was not.

I said es verdad, es verdad? Is that true?

Apparently the weather was not cooperating — there was too much lightning — and landing would be very dangerous. Cordoba was still the closest airport so we had to turn back. I thought it would have been cool if there was another airport, to see another city, as my itinerary was quite flexible.

I know it was good they were playing it safe but all I could think about was the guy at the hotel telling me about the crash a few months prior.

At this point, everything else was secondary. I just only wanted to get back on the ground. Even if it was back where we had started.


Tick Tock

My flight still said on time for a 5.40pm departure but I went to the gate agent and he confirmed it was delayed. No surprise there.

The gate agent told me the flight was now delayed until 7.30pm. I was getting concerned with no accommodation reservation since it would be dark when I arrived.

Since there were limited flights, your odds of meeting someone on your flight were pretty good. I met an Argentine woman and we got to chatting. I told her my situation (no place to stay and now we were sure to arrive after dark) and she offered to help me pick a place. I pulled out my Lonely Planet. Now I am just going off the Lonely Planet — no cross checking on TripAdvisor — so I narrowed down the descriptions I liked and then she picked one with a good location.

Now I needed a phone to make a call. Skype had been my lifeline in this situations prior but without WiFi, I was without a phone. I figured I could wait a bit in case the plane would take off soon and then make the call in the Mendoza airport. She was adamant that I had a place booked before I landed.

She also told me the rules in Argentina and that if a plane is delayed more than four hours they would have to provide dinner and a hotel. Because of this, airlines are incentivized to take off on time. I looked at her quizzically, this was Argentina, and she was confident we would board before the four hours were up.

Tick tock.

Finally, she told me to come with her. We went to the gate agent and she told him my situation (solo female traveler, she can’t speak quickly, no reservation in Mendoza — I’m certain I looked like a winner). I basically stood there like her sidekick picking up words here and there. I still had no idea what she said in Spanish but after a lot of arguing and him head nodding (as in ‘no’) he finally handed over his cell phone to me. She told me to call and make a reservation with his phone.

And then we waited some more.

We met the others on our flight. Two men who were returning from a vacation in Brazil were trying to return home to Mendoza were also on our flight. I was practicing my Spanish since one spoke very good English and the other only Spanish. It was frustrating to everyone because they wanted to get home. I hardly had a plan but I knew I wanted out of the Cordoba airport.

This is what the airport looked like when we boarded at 9pm — just shy of four hours delayed.

cordoba airport

But little did we know that our adventure, and our friendship, was just beginning.


Security or Not?

After my Cordoba adventures, I went back to the hotel, grabbed my stuff and took a taxi to the airport.

I went through what could have been a doorway, but I went through security with my shoes on, a bottle of water in my hand. I stopped to ask about the water and my shoes and instead before I got the words out, was just waved through. There was no line when I got to ‘security’ and there was no line after. It was as if I went through a doorway. There was no concern. I was through in a matter of seconds.

I got to the terminal — which was the terminal for the whole airport and realized I would have an hour to kill before boarding.

I took out my laptop to see if I could figure out where I could stay and no WiFi. I took a seat and nearby I hear English. Lots of it.

About eight burly men were returning to Buenos Aires. They were on a hunting trip and returning home to various places in the Midwest, Idaho and Montana. We chatted for nearly an hour, and then they left to board.

I realized I should have been boarding for my flight to Mendoza around the same time too.