Time to say goodbye to Patagonia – An extract from my diary.
We left very early this morning for El Calafate. It was still dark when we took the bus from the bus terminal. On our way we witnessed the most amazing sunrise. You know the moments when people go “Ooh” and “Aah”, well we had one of those . We asked the driver to make a quick stop for pictures. He didn`t mind!
Another quick bathroom stop in La Leona a small little town. A lot of machinery leveling mounts were standing around and I also saw a stray cat.
We continued our journey and arrived in El Calafate. We went straight to the airport. I still needed to buy a ticket back to Buenos Aires! The only airline on duty was Aerolineas Argentinas. I have flown with LAN CHILE but not with Aerolineas Argentinas.
They swiped my credit card with one of those very old credit machines that still uses paper. You know the once they use in the olden days where you have to phone for authorization. Behind me a large cue was lining up. The check-in counter and the counter where you purchase the ticket was exactly the same. They couldn’t get authorization from South Africa so I needed to find an ATM.
Luckily there is one on the premises. I dashed to the bank, withdrew the money and to my amazement the man waited for me! The cue of people was patiently waiting for me to buy my ticket and to check in. I was amazed! Andrey and I went to the restaurant area and waited for my time to board. Unfortunately Andrey bought his ticket a while ago and because the flight was fully booked he couldn`t change it and fly with me.
My flight arrived, I said goodbye to Andrey and we discussed our meet up for tomorrow. I will be in Buenos Aires for 1 more day before I fly back to Johannesburg. I gave him 2 possible names of Hotels where I was planning on staying. I left with a very heavy heart. Not only was I saying goodbye to Andrey but I was also saying goodbye to Patagonia.
We made a quick stop in Bariloche, refuelled and left for Buenos Aires.
The flight got very bumpy and scary. Now this part was very funny and I will always remember my flight back to Buenos Aires. We landed. I got ready to get up and go when I noticed that something strange was going on. An announcement came in Spanish, which I didn’t understand, and people started to react very differently. Some laughed, some took out their cell phones and phoned and other people talked to each other. Another announcement and people were not leaving. What the heck was happening? I tried to speak to the man next to me but he didn’t speak English. I waited a little longer and then called the air hostess.
She also didn’t speak English and told me to wait she will call someone else. I waited and here comes the Pilot! He introduced himself and told me that we landed in Uruguay due to a very bad storm in Buenos Aires. They were unable to land and we don’t have permission to get off the aeroplane because it is a domestic aeroplane that landed at an International Airport. We will have to wait until they get confirmation to take off. I started to laugh and then people around me laughed because I finally understood what happened! We waited for 1 ½ hours and then we took off for Buenos Aires domestic airport.
By the time I got into the city Andrey was already home and fast asleep. I was exhausted! It was 3 am and I was still walking to find a place to sleep. I went to the first hotel where I planned to sleep and they were full. I went to a second hotel and they were also full. The third hotel helped me. I was so tired I only asked for 1 night (by the show of fingers). They understood me and showed me to my room. I asked if I should pay now and they told me “tomorrow”. Ok, I was dog tired!
One small, little problem. Andrey did not know where I was staying!
Where: El Chalten, El Calafate, Bariloche, Montevideo, Buenos Aires
When: 22 March 2007