Friday I began making my way back to the states, having staged the return in two phases. In the first half, I planned to make my way from Mendoza to Sao Paulo, connecting in Buenos Aires. Overall, the travel was uneventful, though the decision to do so was prudent. Buenos Aires is served by two airports, Jorge Newbury, where most domestic flights arrive and depart, and Ezezia, where most international flights arrive and depart. Because they are on opposite sides of the city, it is necessary to travel, via bus or taxi, across the city.
I arrived tired and confused in Buenos Aires, knowing I had to arrange transportation between the two airports but not sure where to go. While waiting for my baggage, I went to one of the counters and booked a seat on a shuttle bus to take me to Ezezia for AR$63 (about US$22). With my bags in hand, I entered the terminal proper and went in search of my bus. I wandered around for a solid fifteen minutes, without any idea where exactly this bus would be. Fed up with trying to locate it on my own, I returned to the other side of the counter where I bought the passage, where a waiting woman quickly handed me off to a driver. We went out to the private car waiting to whisk me to the airport, and I began smarting from my foolishness.
That smarting began to wear off once we hit traffic on the main highway, backing cars up for several kilometers. It wore off even more when he spoke comprehensible English (the first and only driver to do so on the entire trip), and was gone by the time he began aggressively navigating roads parallel to the highway, allowing me to smile while we whisked by. I happily tipped him by the end.
Ezezia was a mass of chaos at check-in. The waiting area was not any better, and the flight monitors displayed the wrong gate, causing me to almost miss the flight. Once we arrived in Sao Paulo, I was finally confronted with the dreaded Brazilian immigration policy. I had heard the stories of Americans waiting for hours in line for our time to be fingerprinted and photographed, in retaliation for the process we impose upon Brazilians (among others). Downstairs in immigration, though, that line was closed. I waited in the nearly empty foreigners’ line and was surprised when, upon my turn, my documents were casually read and stamped. I had found the loophole.
The Marriott was nice, but brusque, lacking the warmth I’d experienced all week in Argentina. The airport experienced a power outage all morning Saturday, so I did some light reading. After a buffet lunch and some additional light reading and writing, it was time to return to the airport and take the final leg home.
So, now, I close out the trip here in the British Airways lounge, waiting for my flight to depart and my return to the USA. While this may have been my first trip to South America, may it certainly not be the last. Many thanks to all those who made this a fantastic trip.