It’s hard to describe how traveling makes me feel. It’s… liberating, I guess. All you need fit in a bag and no plans are made, you go with the flow because most of the time, you have no choice but to do just that. It’s a “back to basics” experience where only three things matter: finding shelter, food and embracing the adventure.
Our destination? Argentina.
Why? Just… because. This trip was a last-minute decision and we wanted to go back to the Southern Hemisphere where days are still long and where the weather is nice. We went to Argentina twice (2001 and 2009) and we like it. I love Latin America—it’s my second home. The trip to China was Feng’s—this one is more mine.
The adventure started at 6 p.m. at the small Ottawa Airport, where we took a short flight to Toronto. Once again, we ended up in Terminal E where you can shop for Victoria Secret underwear and play with iPad but where affordable food options are thin on the ground. We grabbed a bite at Tim Hortons and waited to board the Buenos Aires flight—only to realize our flight was actually to (or through?) Santiago, Chile. “Er… doesn’t it say ‘Buenos Aires’ on the tickets?” I asked. We shrugged. Meh. We would get there, somehow. Instead of a “chicken bus”, we had boarded an Air Canada “chicken plane” and apparently, a stop in Chile was included. Why not?
Mark is getting good at flying. He walks though security like a pro and hold onto the stroller when I ask him to, because between the backpacks and him, I don’t want to forget anything or anyone. He has his own seat now, and he proudly buckles (and unbuckles… and buckles… and unbuckles…) his belt.
“We gonna dodo in the plane, alright? The big dodo.” Mark shrugged. He loves take-off and landing but the in-flight entertainment system doesn’t keep him busy for long. It was late too, close to midnight when we boarded. Amazingly, Mark fell asleep in his seat, quietly and without a fuss.
Feng and I weren’t so lucky. We dozed on and off but we still have a cold and I kept on coughing.
We eventually landed in Santiago, Chile, around noon on the 31. We had to disembark and wait around at the airport. The air smelled of dry desert, arid mountains. Chile, for sure.
Another two-hour flight took us across the Andes, to Buenos Aires. The three of us were getting antsy and hungry during this last leg—food sucks on Air Canada flights and it had been a long trip.
Immigration process took a while, and because we had to wait for the stroller at the door, we were the last one to be fingerprinted and waved though. At least we didn’t have to wait for our bags at the carrousel, for once they were waiting for us!
We took a taxi to Buenos Aires central. There was no traffic but we quickly realized the city was dead, all the stores were closed. I was not expecting that, as in North America, the 31st is still a regular business day. Fortunately, we remembered the location of a small Carrefour City Market and rushed there to buy supplies minutes before it closed at 6 p.m.
And this was where we were as 2014 was about to end: resting in a hotel room, sweaty, hungry yet happy.
After a short nap and showers, we decided to head out. The temperature was just perfect, around 27°C. The sun had just set and we were wondering where the action would be. We checked out Puerto Madero, an upscale district by the old waterfront and confirmed there would be fireworks at midnight. It too several attempts to figure out the plans because I kept on asking random tourists for info, and they all turned out to be Brazilian and very not fluent in Spanish. Gee. I hate tourists! (just kidding, just kidding…)
Restaurants were too fancy in the area, so we walked back to Microcentro and ate the cheesiest pizza ever, with Argentinean empanadas—small turnover-style pastries stuffed with chicken, beef or ham.
We rushed back to Puerto Madero just in time for the midnight fireworks and to get soaked in champagne as people were opening bottles in the street. It was a great location for such a show, probably the second best fireworks display I’ve seen after New Year Eve in Sydney. We danced in the street, had fun and passed out in bed at 2 a.m. The last thing I remember? Mark, rolling around in the bed beside me, asking: “more planes?” “More fireworks?”