Friday, November 9, 2012

2012 South America Adventures: First Impressions

My flight to Buenos Aires was probably one of the most pleasant travel days that I’ve had in the few past years while traveling.  With the exception of the 25 minute delay on the first leg to Chile and then having to dart through security to my connecting flight sweating profusely only to find out that my flight is delayed for 45 minutes (no doubt due to our flight), it was a smooth flight over.  On both flights I had an empty seat next to me (a real bonus in Economy class) and the meal on the four hour flight from Chile to Buenos Aires was really good (first time I have eaten my meal on a flight).

 
At the Buenos Airport the lines through immigration and customs were super long, but I made it through and managed to find my driver. Well, sort of.  There is this section just past the information booth outside of the baggage claim area with the names of passengers posted on this wire display.  When you see your name, you tell this 3rd party guy then he phones your driver and walks you to where your driver will pick you up.  Three escorted passengers follow this guy and we all wait our turn to be picked up by our drivers.  Aldo, my driver is very sweet and he takes me to my apartment.  He first stops to pick up Guille (my apartment manager). Guille is so nice and friendly.  We arrive at my new home away from home.  The apartment is really beautiful and it is the perfect size for me.  After getting the tour with instructions from Guille, I get a few directions from her and I set out to explore my first day here in this high octane city.

 
My first introduction has been . . . well interesting. I apparently arrived one day after a difficult time in the city.  In some places, there were no water or electricity and there are piles of smelly garbage on the streets, making it challenging in some places to walk by without making “that” face. You know the one that makes others see that there’s something wrong up ahead. J  But other than that and the unbelievable humidity here, my first impressions of Buenos Aires are Wow!  This is a big, urban, gritty and oh so colorful city.  The people here are all so nice and incredibly friendly.  And despite this country’s struggling economic challenges, I am so impressed with the heart and soul of this city and of the people who live here.  And btw, hearing of their political troubles makes me really appreciate how America made the “Right” decision to elect President Obama to his second term.  And to realize that the world was watching with great interest as well was also interesting.   Let’s say it was front page material!


 
As soon as I unpacked I went in search of my first meal….I walked toward Plaza Serrano and along the way captured some photos. There are these really cool street art around the neighborhood and people hanging out and walking around everywhere.  I found what appears to be a popular place.  It is open 24 hours a day (imagine that), it has free WiFi and a great view of the happenings around Plaza Serrano.  My meal was this very nice chicken with sweet apricot sauce on it and I think couscous with bits of onion.  Yum! (See Twitter feed for photo).

After buying some groceries and water for my apartment, I head out in search of an ATM.  This was an unbelievable experience.  I searched and searched and finally end up going to somewhere near Plaza DeMayo.  I find an ATM and successfully withdrew some cash (something I was growing in short supply of).  I find out that there is a big political demonstration about to start where approximately 35,000 Portenos are expected to attend.  Now, if I did not have so much cash on me and some jetlag about to kick in, I might have tried to stay, but I thought better and found my way back home.  J  I was not surprised that this event was being held in Plaza De Mayo, because this is where many demonstrations throughout this city's history are held.  Other than Madrid, I don’t think I’ve seen so many people all at once.  I just love when people exercise their freedom of speech.

It’s interesting, but when I talked about recyclables at the apartment, Guille told me that the City unfortunately does not place high importance on Recyclables.  I was instructed to leave out my trash bags out by the staircase where someone will pick it up for us and there are no separate bins to separate trash from the good recyclable items.  Now this is where other counties, especially Italy, are far ahead in this department.  She told me that there are people who go through the trash and pull out all the recyclables to exchange for money.  And just by chance while I was walking back to the apartment late last night I ran into a family (mother, son and young daughter) pushing these huge bound up bundles of what looked like cardboard and other stuff.  They were laughing as one of the bundles rolled back down. It was a little sad to see, but I also thought that it was good that they were making money plus saving recyclables from being dumped in the trash.   I was so tempted to ask to take their photo, but it just didn’t seem right so I didn’t.  I just smiled and said hola.  What beautiful smiles they had though. 

Well, today I woke up late!  Jet lag at its finest. It's supposed to rain today and I haven't yet decided what I want to do.  One of the joys to slow traveling....you have time to pause and go hmmm.  Maybe I want to do this. Maybe I want to do that. Or just maybe I want to chill because I have plenty of time to get all of my must see's in. Ha ha!  

Thanks again to everyone for reading my blog and thanks so much Annie & Sandra for your comments. I hope to catch up with my comments soon.
 
I'll end this long first post with some images of my first day.
 
 


 
 
Isn't it nice that this shop owner has a colorful bench and bowl for their four legged shoppers...
 

 And finally, one of the best ice creams I've tasted.  It's right up there with Italy's Gelato!
 
 
And just as I'm ending my post and getting ready to head out, the wind begins to thunder about, causing car alarms to go off, heavy rain is pouring down and the likelihood of me running around seems unappealing at the moment. :)  The wind (and car alarms) has suddenly died down just as suddenly as it had started but the rain continues to fall.  I unwisely did not pack my travel umbrella with me but I do have my rain jacket which is just as effective as it has a hood.   I guess I could catch a Taxi to maybe Teatro Colon? What to do?
 
Day to saga to be continued . . . .
 

4 comments:

  1. Wow, Kathy, you're in South America already -- and blogging from there!!! Was expecting blog entries of your vacation only after your return home! :D

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  2. What wonderful first impressions, Kathy! I'm so glad to hear that you arrived safely, after a smooth trip, and that you're settled in your apartment. Sounds like you're off to an exciting start! (and that ice cream looks wonderful!)

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  3. So glad you are there safe and sound! I love when the airplane gods give me an empty seat - feels so lucky. I love all your colorful photos - very cool to see Obama in their paper. And that ice cream looks fantastic!

    Hope the weather clears up soon. Look forward to reading more. Have fun!

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  4. Sounds like a great arrival - looking forward to seeing and hearing more about the Paris of South America

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It's me Trekcapri (aka Kathy). Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment.