I didn’t cry when we left Santiago. I thought I would, but I didn’t. Still, after getting our boarding passes and checking in the bags, I stepped out of the airport one last time. I stood there, looking at the green “Santiago” sign pointing to the freeway, and I admired the perfect setting as if I needed to engrave it in my memory, as if I didn’t have enough pictures already.
Mountains. Blue sky. Sunshine. Dry weather. Dust.
Then I stepped back inside the airport and went through the motions. We were flying the Amsterdam-bound KLM flight that stopped in Buenos Aires. It was the cheapest ticket available and I thought of it as a “chicken plane”, like this Central America buses that stop everywhere along the way. Of course, this time, our “chicken plane” was a huge blue aircraft full of very tall Dutch passengers. The last time I flew KLM, I was just a couple of months pregnant, going to Nantes to be with my mum who had just undergone a major surgery. I was confused and anxious, worried about the unborn baby I was carrying and about my mum. It’s funny to look back almost exactly four years later and to realize that everything turned out okay.
KLM had a great on-board entertainment system so the three of us put headphones on and watched movies for an hour and a half, munching on the free Dutch stroopwafels.
Immigration, customs. The officer laughed when he saw my passport, full of Argentinean exit-and-entry stamps.
In the taxi, Mark asked the right question: “What’s the name of this city?” We will spend a few days in Buenos Aires, it’s just too expensive and difficult to spend the carnival in Brazil. “We are in the city that has the Obelisk. Do you remember it?” Mark nodded gravely.
Traveling is like stumbling on a new movie set every few days, except that you weren’t given the script and you aren’t sure what part you’re playing. You have to figure out who the actors are, who are the good guys, the bad guys, what the story is about..
On this side of the Andes, everything was subtly different. The weather—hot and humid instead of hot and dry. The currency. The people. Even though we know Argentina pretty well, it always takes us a bit us time to remember the local quirks, perks and annoyances. Oh, the ATMs are empty again! Yay, back to the land of facturas, these delicious bite-size pastries. Phew, no hot dogs here. Damn, Argentinian elevators are often very small and old. So, pizza or pasta tonight? Ah, shit, there was a wider yogurt selection in Chile, in Argentina it’s often vanilla or strawberry. Eh, we don’t need to hurry, restaurants open until late at night here. Watch out though, supermarkets close earlier than in Chile.
Alright, Buenos Aires. Be kind to us. We like you.