Crash Landing in BsAs

Itś Friday, July 30. My momś birthday-Happy Birthday, Mom! I will celebrate your birthday by going to a milonga-my first real outing into the BsAs tango world-tonight with Theresa, from Germany and one other gal here at Lunallena in BsAs. I have almost recovered from the trauma of landing here after a very long journey-noon on Tuesday until 5 p.m. on Wednesday-up and down four times — fighting some bug that was plaguing my throat and general sense of well being. I arrived safely- managed all the ins and outs of immigration, paying my hefty reciprocal fee to enter AR-$150, but good for 10 yrs, they said! Ha! Don lose your stamp-they put in the passport-even if your passport is replaced-bring the old one with the stamp and we will honor. Ha! Great idea if you can hold onto that passport, which of course, I assumed I would . . . .but in just a couple of hours hence, it would be gone!
Nico, the AR taxi guy related to Lunallena, my hotel, came to fetch me. I was not surprised he was late, as the plane out of LAX was delayed 2 hrs! So a 5 hr layover there instead of a 3 hr layover. I waited for Nico in the pickup place for almost 30 min-thatś a weird feeling–what would I do if he didnt come eventually? -finally he appeared with the sign bearing my name!  Hurrah! I couldnt wait to get to the hotel and sleep!
I had one large and two small cases stacked on the cart with my computer case tucked in the slot under the push handle. It had my computer, passport, personal papers, books and cameras . . .both the flip video camera and my digital 35mm camera. Nico offered to push the cart and I was ready to be relieved. We made our way to the parking lot and his taxi. He pushed the cart to the back of his taxi and then unlocked the passenger door for me. I took the cue and gladly sat down to rest my weary bones. Nico unloaded into the trunk and we were off, enjoying a chatty ride into the city, winding to Palermo, Palermo Sojo and finally Palermo Hollywood. It was a long nearly and hour trip worth $34. American. Nico unloaded the trunk and it was then I discovered my computer case missing. He was unable to comprehend. I entered panic zone. Wild efforts at communicating this horrible reality ensued. Finally I was able to make him understand that there was an important missing item. We tucked the cases inside, greeted waiting Ricarda, the owner, and headed back to the airport. Nico tried to help me as we went, telling me how much longer, how much longer. I just prayed and reflected on how things can spiral so quickly into a nightmare. Finally we were there again in the airport parking lot.  Nico found the spot and what he thought was the very same cart . . .empty! We spoke to a guard in a nearby tower who directed us to the inside office. We made our way there, thru the airport lobby, making one false stop at another police office. When we arrived it took forever to get someone to help us, and forever again to file the report once we were told my case had not been turned in. I was not surprised. I had to make a list of the contents. I knew I had more than two books but the only titles that came to me were Bad Times in Buenos Aires and Culture Shock Argentina. The irony was so thick! I smiled at it in spite of myself.  I figured I could do without those now as I was living out those realities!
They told us to call the next day . . . .perhaps something will show up. We returned to the taxi and . .the long, sad journey again, back to Lunallena, which now seemed musty and dark and not nearly as charming as the pictures.  Nevertheless, I was happy to get to bed even without dinner.   I didnt sleep well, not that night or the next.  Well, I had been sad not to have lost more weight before my trip . . .now at least, I was lighter!
Next day-Thursday-I made my way via taxi, to Rayuela, the language school I had chosen and my apt with the director of studies who turns out to be the owner, manager, Alejandro. Heś 52, has a girlfriend and a son, age 10. Alejandro was most sympathetic re: my crisis and offered to call the police at the airport.  He made several attempts and finally succeeded. He learned my case had been turned in, sans all electronics. BUT the passport was there!  So was everything else, save the computer and cameras.  I needed to go soon as after 24 hrs the police sent the found items to another office, so if I didnt want to spend more time chasing about I had to go again to the airport asap.  Alejandro called Pepe, who sometimes drives for the school.  Pepe is closer to my age . . .60 something and cute in a rustic kinda way. No English, but we taught each other some words.  He especially liked: traffic jam! We encountered plenty of those on our trip. Pepe stayed with me thru the process. He was great. We had to wait of course. It had been 90 min the night before, now we waited maybe 30 min to get help, maybe an hour in all.  Finally they brought out my bag. I identified it, they looked at my drivers license and were satisfied. BUT, hereś a cute bump: I had to sign a paper saying I was satisfied with the contents, in order to be allowed to take my case etc. If I wanted the police to continue to look for my lost items(read stolen) I would be required to leave everything with the police!  Hmm. I did smell a rat there!  Nevertheless, I signed. I wasń’t giving up my passport again!
There were two young women from Columbia there in the police “lost and found” when we arrived.  They spoke to Pepe in Spanish but finally one spoke English to me.  I was so relieved.  Itś an amazing relief to be able to speak and understand.   It is much harder than I imagined to be here and not really function in Spanish.  Claudia, who had graduated from college and was returning home from a year in Australia, was sitting with Anna, a college girl returning home after six months in Australia.  Both had been working on their English and had met on the airplane.  They commended Australia for its beautiful beaches and safety.  They were in the airport for just a few hrs before returning to Columbia.  They had gone to the internet cafe to talk with family.  Someone snatched Annaś wallet with all her credit cards, id, health cards and money.  She was as distraught as I had felt the night before. “Only five minutes and it was gone,” she sighed.  Finally seeing her head hanging low, I went to sit by Anna.  I asked if her passport was safe. Yes. Ticket? Yes.  So, don’t worry about the credit cards, you won’t be liable.  You just have to cancel.  She had already called her father in Columbia to do this.  The id and health cards are an issue.  They take maybe one year to replace in her country.  Do you have any money? No, it was all in my wallet.  How much do you need to get home?  Before she could answer I pulled a 100 peso note from my wallet and handed it to her.  No, no too much.  No, I insist. You’ll feel better and you won’t worry so much.  She smiled her first smile of the evening, hugged me and thanked me for my unexpected generosity.  Itś nothing, I said.  I am happy to help.  Then Claudia was smiling too and hugged me, and I turned and I saw Pepe had a big smile and was nodding his head in approval.
Good times in Buenos Aires.  Gracias por Dios!


About tangobunny

Pastor Bunny went on sabbatical leave to Argentina July 28-November 4, 2010, funded by a pastoral renewal grant from the Lily Foundation. It was her second visit to AR. Since then she's been back three more times and toured the country. She loves the Argentine people as much as the tango and calls Argentina her other home.
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