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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Traveling Blues


Coming through Buenos Aires on our way home from Antarctica, my big green travel duffel did not come down the chute with everything else. It’s actually the stuff nightmares are made of because if I lost a bag in the hinterlands of South America, I’d probably never see it again. How do I know? Because it’s happened to me before.

Anyway, I left Bob guarding the luggage we did have (except I kept my backpack) and I trudged down to the Aerolingas Argentinas luggage department. It must have been half a mile. I showed them the bag claim ticket for this missing bag, described it in my fractured Spanish, and they called this grizzled old dude over, who had zip in the way of airport ID hanging from his neck like everyone else. Jose did not make eye contact with me (never a good sign) and shuffled out the doors, presumably in search of my bag. I trotted back to tell Bob what was up, made my way back to the luggage department and stood around waiting. In the meantime, Argentineans are “kiss happy.” They kiss everybody on both cheeks. Strangers grabbed me up and planted kisses on my cheeks just because I happened to be standing there.  

 Buenos Aires has TWO airports. We still had to take a bus (90 minute ride) across town to the other airport, which was where our flight to Atlanta was departing from. I had the bus tickets, but I didn’t want to leave without my bag. Thank God we had a seven hour layover. Anyway, after about forty minutes, I wandered back to the counter and told them I had to get to the other airport, so I needed a firm yay or nay about my bag so I could fill out their forms for lost luggage. That seemed to galvanize the crew in maƱana land. Someone raised Jose on the walkie-talkie and about ten minutes later he shuffled back in with my duffel. I could have hugged him! There are no skyways at that airport. We walked down steps to get off the plane and took a bus to the terminal. I’m guessing they were sloppy unloading the luggage and my duffel fell off the open cart on its way to bag claim.

All’s well that ends well. We got to the international airport with two hours to spare and had pizza and Starbucks while we waited for our flight to Atlanta.