Some travel notes.
January 1, 2012
(From JFK, on a layover, after 29 hours of travel from Buenos Aires.)
We’re getting old!! It’s been 4 years since I’ve done this sort of travel. K and I were the oldest ones in the hostels. We traded up for comfort over novelty. Our ankles swelled.
Men’s fashion ranged from Gaucho-Punk to that expensive looking suit that’s always impeccable no matter the heat. The teenage-college male hipsters all sport a seemingly modest crop, until they turn around to reveal the back which ranges from wispy rat-tail to a nest of short, well-seasoned dread locks. The women and girls are elegantly plain.
Our ability to speak Spanish would come and go and was highly dependent on either urgency or comfort level with the patience of those around us. Most of the time we were saved by situational context, like when, in Iguazu, K yelled in Spanish “Sir, We need to climb the bus!”. The driver was probably all too happy to stop and let us off. Otherwise, we’d make friends and banter in Spanglish over another glass of Malbec without a care in the world.
…..And then, the 85 year old man who insisted on getting us a second bottle of wine and groped K’s breast, offered her 100 pesos (25$) for reasons unknown but easily surmised. Meanwhile, he keeps offering me ice, and the Tango dancers are lovely. Our waiter laughs lightheartedly and openly at us from across the room, before having the manager tactfully move us to another table out of the old man’s reach.
Whether it be a quick flight from BA to Mendoza or an 18 hour bus ride from Iguazu back to BA, we could always count on one thing for sustenance: Ham Flavored Crackers. Oh. Yeah.
As we get off the bus in the middle of nowhere at the base of Mt. Aconcagua, 5 hours outside the city of Mendoza, it becomes immediately apparent that the “refugio” that our very kind and very unhelpful tourist agent allegedly made a reservation for us at simply does not exist. The military man with the big machine gun finds us on the road moments later, takes our bags, and brings us inside. They do not speak English. They have heavily accented Spanish and a lot of guns. They make phone calls and shrug when we ask questions, like “where are we?”, and “do you know where we can stay”? Eventually we walk next door, give them our passports and some pesos, and they show us to a dorm in their military base. We hired Juan and his girlfriend as guides for a short hike. I fell just a little bit in love with David. We brought beer and wine back after a very strange dinner at the restaurant next door with mules tied up outside in place of cars. We learned to communicate effectively, we developed some inside jokes, and had we stayed for more than 1 night, I may have stayed forever.
Boarding for Boston now, the last leg of the very long journey home. I bought a new comfy sweater at the airport, and I’ve been upgraded to first class. There’s nothing I love more than travel, but its been a while, and I forgot how much I also enjoy coming home.