I’ve been really lucky with traveling since I moved to Hawaii, and I travel A LOT, considering the nearest land mass is 6 hours away. Aside from a few minor delays here and there, I haven’t had much to complain about. I fly United every time too. I thought I would have been punched in the face at least once. After the first leg of travel to Argentina, I now see what was going on. The universe was saving an avalanche of bad karma and decided to unleash it all at once. On my first trip to South America. As if I wasn’t stressed out already. Fuck you, Universe.
The two days of flights didn’t feel like a normal journey through airports. It felt like a hole opened up in the Earth and we traveled through 7 layers of hell, into Satan’s mouth, through his digestive track, and out of his butthole. Eventually arriving in Buenos Aires.
Originally, our itinerary had us going from Honolulu to LAX to Mexico to Peru to Santiago then finally to Punta Arenas where we were going to rent a car and drive to Patagonia. Total travel time 31 hours. Sure we save money but Jesus Christ, what were we thinking?
Thankfully, the LATAM employees in Chile graciously started protesting their working hours and wages, canceling our flights to Punta Arenas. After speaking (furiously yelling) with an Indian Expedia employee who called himself “Tom” for 2 hours, he rebooked our flights, and our new itinerary went from Honolulu to LAX to Miami to Santiago to Buenos Aires. Starting at 8:00 AM Saturday and landing at 3 PM Sunday.
Our flight from Honolulu to LAX was nice (shout out Hawaiian Airlines), we drank two massive bloody marys and I passed out for most of the flight.
Me and Xtina naively thinking this will be a smooth journey
We landed and stayed with Xtina’s extremely hospitable gay uncle and his partner at their place in Santa Clarita for the night. I’m surprised they let us stay since, being the anxious, clumsy idiot that I am, the first thing I did was spill red wine on their beautiful new carpet. They were mortified but understanding. They also treated us to Chinese food and (more) red wine and could not have been more gracious hosts. Her uncle also drove us to LAX, something I wouldn’t do for my best friends or closest relatives.
Let me back up slightly. While in Santa Clarita, I booked our new flights from Santiago to Buenos Aires since Patagonia was now a full-blown dumpster fire. In my infinite wisdom I chose the flights on the 22nd (while we were flying) instead of the 23rd(when we landed). This is where things started to go wrong.
One of the engines in our plane out of LAX wouldn’t start, which delayed us about an hour and a half. Considering we had a 1 hr. 48-minute layover in the Miami Airport, my mind was consumed with anxiety for the duration of the 5-hour flight. Thankfully, our gate was 15 ft. from where we landed and we were able to catch our flight right as it was boarding. No exaggeration, we ran off our flight and onto our plane to Chile, getting a whole 45 seconds to decompress and stretch our legs before being shoved back into uncomfortable tiny seats. Luckily, I was in the middle seat between two giant men and spent the 8 hour flight wondering what I did to deserve this.
Remember when I said I booked the wrong flight? When we went to check in at Santiago for our slight to Buenos Aires, the unhelpful, some would say cunty, gate agents at Air Canada told us our flight had left the day before. Thank God Air Canada has one flight every day from Santiago to Buenos Aires. We caught the 1:00 PM flight and only paid $100 each for the change fee. I wanted to strangle somebody even though it was completely my fault. But I’m not going to take the blame so it’s Air Canada’s fault. Those pricks.
The Santiago, Chile Airport.
This is my nightmare. We had just been through almost 2 hours of customs, our international cell phone service didn’t work, we couldn’t rebook our flights, the gate agents were completely worthless in helping, I had to poop desperately, my left eye was watering uncontrollably from the stress of the situation or the fact that I didn’t change my contacts in 2 days, I was a sweaty mess of anger and anxiety.
The stress was at a fever pitch. If there was a meter to measure it the needle would have broken through the glass and caught fire. It almost exploded into a YouTube-worthy outburst. Thankfully, one of the gate agents for Air Canada ended up saving the day, getting us on the new flight, and laughing at how bad I was freaking out. I forget his name but I love that man. “here are your new tickets” were the most beautiful words I had ever heard.
How beat down were we? We decided to eat some traditional Chilean cuisine at Ruby Tuesdays. The oasis for desperate broke souls who have given up on life.
Once we were on our flight to Buenos Aires and the plane didn’t immediately burst into flames we finally started to relax. I wanted to sleep in the airport bathroom, I had nothing left in the tank. The pessimistic attitude the first leg of the trip left me with had me dreading what our AirBnB would be like. Would we both be raped? Murdered? Both?
We caught a taxi from the airport that amazingly didn’t crash and arrived at a cozy bed and breakfast in the Banfield neighborhood of Buenos Aires. As we entered the place, we found a light at the end of the tunnel. The homeowners, Laura and Jorge, completely changed the trajectory of our day. More on them later.
We ate at the corner restaurant that served pizza, pasta, empanadas, sandwiches, and pretty much anything else you can think of, including the traditional Argentinian dish Milanese. Milanese is basically chicken fried steak with random shit on top. Mine had peas, uncooked bacon, and a single red pepper. I don’t understand it and it wasn’t very good but I’ll wait to reserve judgment until we try it at a nicer spot. We started eating at 7 PM like a couple of tourists (most people here eat at 10 PM) then wandered around the town like a couple of tourists. OH MY GOD THEY HAVE DELIS AND BAKERIES HERE? Every stupid little thing was amazing to us.
It reminds me of when I see people in Hawaii on vacation walking around Kahala Mall or Ala Moana. To them it’s really cool, to us it’s a waste of time. It’s all about perspective I guess.
When we returned, we got to know Jorge, Laura, and their son Guido (lol) who offered us beer, wine, grappa, dulce de leche, and a wealth of information on Buenos Aires, their traditions, food, culture, and invaluable tips for our upcoming trip to Mendoza. There was an awkward language barrier as Jorge doesn’t speak much English, but Laura does, and acted as the translator between me/Xtina and Jorge. I forgot to get a photo with them before we left because I’m the worst but they invited us to a BBQ next week so we’re going to stay with them again when we return. They blessed us with a wealth of knowledge that we weren’t expecting and desperately needed.
Not only that, but Jorge helped us navigate the Banfield bus station which was impossible for me and Christina with our extremely limited Spanish. I tried to learn Spanish before we left, I really did, but apparently 30 minutes of Duolingo per day with absolutely no supplemental practice doesn’t cut it.
I’m writing this from the overnight bus, we have wine, Will is alive and found us, and we’re about to ride bikes around the gorgeous countryside, act sophisticated, and drink like alcoholics for 6 straight days. Pray for our collective livers.