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