Decisions were made, travel route were planned, credit cards were used.
Time to move on.
We had several options for our next steps but we faced the Carnival issue: massive price hikes, hotels booked solid and thousands of Brazilians partying all over the country. Feng and I were in Brazil for Carnival twice, in 2002 and in 2009. We will be back in Brazil soon, in February… but after the long party.
So what now? Español, por favor! Dulce de leche, parillas, mate de coca, Maradona y mucho más. Argentina, here we come… again!
That Sunday, Curitiba was dead quiet but for a feria (open air market) we stumbled upon. We walked around, enjoying the city until it was time to leave.
Taxi, airport. We know the routine now. We checked in and I held my breath: Argentina charges Canadians (and other nationalities) a reciprocity tax. Once you pay it, it’s valid for ten years. We paid it last year but Mark got a new passport and of course, the number on the payment receipt and his passport didn’t match. I did some research online and apparently, you didn’t have to pay it again but still, I wasn’t sure. The airline employee checked our documents and approved them. Phew.
“Boarding time is 2:30 p.m.”, I told Feng since I had been the one chatting in Portuguese.
“What? That’s early! The flight is only at 4:02 p.m.!”
I shrugged. We didn’t have anything better to do so we went through security and waited at the gate. We sat Mark in front of the tablet and I managed to connect to the airport’s Wi-Fi. Fifteen minutes later, boarding started. I kept on writing my emails, expecting the usual long process but this was a speedy one: by 3:10 p.m. we were all on board. Amazing. The plane was very small, but still!
We were flying Austral, a blue propeller. We took off before our scheduled time and arrived ahead of schedule as well, even with the one-hour time change. I have never seen that. We were also fed Argentinian food (sandwiches de miga) and there was on-board entertainment. The only small issue was that the flight was very bumpy and we didn’t land smoothly, we crash-landed and sped on the tarmac for what seemed a long time. Mark found it hilarious. I was one of these passengers who clap hands when the plane finally stops safely. I’m getting old.
I was sitting beside Mark and I was expecting him to nap during the flight but he decided to chat non stop. It’s not that he isn’t a great conversation partner, but I wanted to sleep. “Don’t sleep now, mommy,” he warned me. “You don’t sleep in a plane! You sleep at the hotel-home!” (That’s how we call each hotel we go to)
It was hot in Buenos Aires, much hotter than in Curitiba. We went through the migración, had our pictures and fingerprints taken, then stepped into the arrival hall. The trip had been much more efficient and quicker than our last flight from Natal to Curitiba.
We stood there, for a few minutes, processing that we had just landed in a new country.
I heard drums in the arrival hall and broke the silence. “Carnival, already?”
Nope. A demonstration in the airport. Welcome to Argentina! I smiled.
Then we tried to withdraw money and of course, all the ATMs were empty. Yep, Argentina.
Yet I was much more excited to be here than I thought I would. Everything felt familiar, welcoming, easy after Brazil. I could understand everything, I knew where we were going, I was looking forward to grab my favourite foods.
Argentina… here we come!