Traveling is always an adventure so why should my visit to Argentina be any different? I was feeling relaxed on the flight from Los Angeles to Lima, Peru. All stretched out from head to toe and watching a documentary on Vinicius de Moraes, the passionate poet from Brazil nicknamed O Poetinha (the little poet). He wrote the lyrics to Girl from Ipanema, inspired by a girl who daily walked the seaside in the southern region of Rio De Jeneiro, Brazil. Every artist has their muse. After 14 or so hours in the air we were meant to touch down in Buenos Aires, my first destination. The captain announces we can’t land due to volcanic ash and our plane heads for Cordoba. I’m still smiling thinking I have an adventure in store and we do. We land in Cordoba, where I’m destined to be in 2 weeks. I later learn that the ash from the Puyehue Volcano in Chile is hovering all around B.A. and all flights are cancelled for the next few days. Fascinating that a volcano eruption from Chile, one of the most volcanic countries on earth, with more than 3000 volcanos dotted along its length, could affect air travel in Argentina.
The entire flight is put on about a dozen buses as we make our way to B.A. It’s a simple 8-10 hour ride. I made sure Marta, a kind older woman sat next to me. She was promptly concerned about my feet not being covered. The oh so pretty new summer sandals I was wearing on the plane were quickly replaced by a pair of bulky black socks from the LAN Airlines bag of goodies handed out that I didn’t think to take. Marta did, she’s a mother and a grandmother and is always thinking about such things as who may need what. To me, it looked like a bunch of jody clutter stuff.
The safe bet when you’re in a truck stop somewhere between Cordoba and Buenos Aires around 11:30 PM is empanadas. Realizing my usual preference of vegetarian eating is not going to be easy in a country that loves its meat, I order the jamon y queso and pollo variety. It’s yummy although the photo doesn’t quite depict that. I dine with Monica, an Australian who comes back and forth to visit her daughter in Lima and recently widowed mother. She stopped in Lima and was on our flight to head back to Australia, where she wouldn’t be going anytime soon. Norma, originally from Mexico, who was making her way to Canada and Marta, the woman who has taken to being kind to me.
We get back into our bus and as the snoaring gets louder from a man across the aisle from me, I simply turn up the volume of my iPod nano and thank G-d for mantra music, a conscious method of directing the mind, which slowly takes me out of my head into a deep sleep. I am zombie-like when I awaken thinking the plane is going to land on the runway soon, as I’m chanting the mantra of protection, when in fact, I’m on a bus heading down the road.
Marta insists that her husband drop me at my hotel. I don’t argue about taking help from a stranger because I’m exhausted and it’s around 3-4 am when we arrive into Buenos Aires. Even I have the sense not to try to find a cab at that hour when I have no idea where I am. Especially after two different Argentinos have told me not to take cabs unless I make sure they are fetched by calling a legitimate company. I have found the Spanish people in every part of the world from Spain to Peru to Guatemala to be the kindest, warmest people. I called Marta today and she said “lo que necesitas, llamame”. “Whatever you need, call me.” The warmth of the Spanish never fails to surprise me.
In the morning, I eat a yummy breakfast of jugo de naranga, orange juice, jamon y juevos, ham and eggs. Okay, what’s a Jewish girl to do with her cravings?Next stop is Le Recoleta Cemetary.That will be the next story.
My dear friend told me she liked that I didn’t have an itinerary scheduled. She was right, as usual, as I would not have met Marta, had it not been for the bus ride in the dark. We plan and G-d laughs.
Every Spanish speaking country has a phrase they use that I love. In Guatemala it’s “que le vaya bien.” Or may you be well or may G-d be with you. After asking many questions to strangers, what I hear is “suerte” which means luck. I love that. Not bueno suerte, good luck, but just suerte. Little did I know how much I would need it in a day or two.
Oh, and here is my first birthday cake ever from Hansen’s. I landed in Buenos Aires on my birthday & was treated to this fun & yummy cake 2 days before I flew out of LAX.