Wednesday, November 30

And It's Time to Travel to Argentina

On November 28, after several months of planning, the time has come for me to finally leave the Philippines and make a 36 hour travel to Argentina for our expedition to Mt. Aconcagua. I pass by Narita Japan via Nippon Airways, a lay over of 2 hours then travel for 11 hours to Houston, a lay over of more than 7 hours then a 10 hour plane ride via Continental Airlines to Buenos Aires. Traveling alone on such a long flight is a no joke, I wish I have a buddy around whom I can share the adventure and misadventures but I just really cannot be on the same flight with my climbing buddies on this adventure. Because I have a US visa and Continental Airways is much cheaper than Qatar Airlines, our first airline of choice, I just really cannot be with  them and they cannot fly through Continental as well due to visa issues, so I travel alone.

But one good about traveling alone I got to meet new friends. From Manila to Houston I met Jenny who travel for the first time to the US to finally reunite with her fiance. We had a long trip together, Manila Narita, Narita Houston.  And while on my way to Buenos Aires I met Nely  while at the pre-boarding area,  she lives in Buenos Aires who travel from China She was kind enough to help me with the transportation when my supposedly hotel taxi airport pick up did not show up. She wants to invite me to her place when I drop by Buenos Aires after the climb but of course I was not able to do that anymore.

Having to sit on the plane for several hours is a no joke, I just make use of what ever the plane can offer, eat the food that is served, watch movie when ever I want to, take enough sleep for as long as I can. And having to wait at the airport is a no joke either, I just explore several corners of the airport after finding out that a wifi is not available and my phone's international roaming is not activated, only to find out later my other phone will not work on a develop country like US and Argentina.  And because I am really saving what ever amount of money I have on this trip, I decided to bring food from the Philippines, unfortunately most of it is on my supposedly carry on luggage that I check in after the counter told me I am allowed one more luggage for check in (making it 2 check in luggage). I made sure my 4 bread talk corned beef bun will keep me nourished until I board the plane going to Buenos Aires.

Boarding the last leg of my flight shows that I am now going to a different continent or rather even before boarding the plane. While waiting at the pre-boarding area, Latino looking and speaking passengers are already everywhere, I very much look different to them, and I think I am the only Asian looking person on that flight.

Arriving Buenos Aires on November 29 is a mixed feeling of relief that my long flight is finally over, excitement because so much adventure is in-store for me  on this big country and at the same time a bit scared, I really do not know what will happen to me on my almost a month stay here. It took me more than an hour to pass through immigration, the line is just really too long and so many tourists passengers  like me.  I thank Nely for waiting for me at the baggage area. After passing through customs, Ezeiza airport will be more an hour drive to the city where my hostel is located. It's still 10:30 in the morning.

As we leave the airport, my eyes are all around the place, looking at the places we pass by while talking to Nely who happens to speak very little English and I happen to speak nor understand very little Spanish. But we managed to converse. I drop her off first before I proceed to my hostel, Hostel Colonial. And to my surprise, our hostel is at the second floor of a commercial establishment, what makes it more surprising is that the door of the hostel leads to a long stairway to the second floor. It is where the hostel reception is located without elevator. A super good luck to me, how will I be able to carry my 24 kilos XL duffel in order for me to reach the reception area, if only this is a backpack, I  know I will be able to manage to carry it. After several minutes of thinking I thank one guy from the second floor offer a help, he is one of the guest in the hostel.

I check in, settle on my bed on a room packed with 4 double decks without aircon  unit. The lady opened the door from the terrace for a cooler ventilation. Ok, probably this is how things are here, the room does not have windows but big doors. The room is really crowded but I think this will just be for the night, this is going to be ok. After eating a late lunch from the food that I bring from the Philippines (canned tuna paella, sachet of swift corned beef and red ribbon  ensaymada bread) I decided to take a nap. I am just too tired to even take a bath. I noticed it gets dark late so I take a light dinner from my food again that I bring from PH, I am just so scared to explore the place alone on the evening. My climb buddies Zenon and Ramon arrive 11:00pm. And finally we are complete.

Tips on what to bring on a more than 36 hour trip:
1. Toothbrush and toothpaste. It feels good after a meal in the plane to at least brush my teeth before going back to sleep.
2. Comb and other toiletries. I totally forget to bring mine on the carry on luggage, not even a comb. So I just hide my hair on a baseball cap that I wear.
3. Panty Liner. After several times of going to the lavatory, it just feels great to feel fresh by changing the liner.
4. First Aid Kit with Meds. My allergic rhinitis got triggered by the cold temperature, and I am just glad I brought meds with me.
5. Food, many of it and substantial one. While on long lay over on several airports and while on tipid (save) mode, it's best to bring food, not just candies and cookies but substantial one like bread or even rice and viand.
6. Enough warm clothes. It gets so cold on the plane and on the airport.

Facts about the trip:
Stayed at Hostel Colonial in Buenos Aires for $48.00AR (PhP480.00)
Taxi from the airport $150.00AR   (PhP1,500.00)
Upon arrival at Ezeiza airport, change at least USD$100.00 at the bank right after you exit the airport after passing through customs. The exchange rate is not so good but you will need AR to pay for the ride to the city and upon check-in in the hotel. At least enough money even before  one can find a money changer or bank with a good exchange rate.

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