Today it was time to head to Uruguay! Mom and Gary finished packing up the convention items and I met them just before heading down to meet Stuart and Shirley who were joining us on the adventure. We took two taxis to the Buequebus terminal, which is relatively close to our hotel. I was in the second taxi and it took some time before a cab showed up for us. Once we were reunited we got into the terminal and went to the express check-in lanes. We were a little concerned that we were not in the right area, but all turned out well and we got our boarding passes. We proceeded to immigration and got stamped out of Argentina and into Uruguay without having to leave the gate.
Our ferry was scheduled to depart at 1200 and around 1145 or so they made an announcement in fast Spanish that I did not understand. People began to boo loudly in the terminal so I deduced that we were probably going to be delayed. Around 1230 our ferry showed up and we thought we were going to begin boarding procedures. Buequebus had other ideas. People started going down into the jetways (I guess it’s a ferryway?) and then coming back up. Puzzled, we finally made it down towards the gate after waiting for what seemed like forever, we talked to a worker who explained that someone had died on the ferry on either the trip going over or back and due to the investigation the ferry was going to be delayed 3 hours. They told us if we wanted to get a refund to head downstairs and that is where the fun really began.
One can only describe the scene as chaos. First up, we had to be stamped back into Argentina. The solution that they came up with was to cross off our stamps and write something over them. It took a good 20 minutes for us to make it through this line and people were starting to get crazy. Once we went downstairs to the ticket counters, things got worse. Shirley and Stuart headed for the cashier booth to get a refund, and Mom, Gary, and I headed for the ticket counter to re-book for after our Iguazu trip. It was pandemonium. People were shouting at the poor ticket agents and banging the counter. The lady behind the counter took our boarding passes in an attempt to manually match them with the torn off tickets. I can’t believe they had to do this by hand! Also, if you had a credit card transaction and needed a refund, they had to look at the register receipt scrolls.
After two hours, word started getting back to us that not only were the manual checks taking forever, they were out of cash. Anyone who had not bought their ticket the same day, the employees were refusing to give them their money and was telling them to come back on Monday since the bank will be open then. It was very clear that Buequebus was not prepared for such a huge cancellation. Then again, I am sure this is not something that happens all the time.
After another hour, we finally were able to get some resolution. Part of the reason was the next ferry to Montevideo was trying to check in and we were all in the way. They finally told us to come back and ask for the supervisor and they would be able to rebook us on the 10th. Shirley and Stuart had to pound on the glass and were ignored by one agent who after telling them it was impossible to give them their money, would up the cord on his cash register and walked away with it. The moved down to the next window and after Shirley showed them that she had a plane to catch the next day and that she would lose her job if she missed it, they finally caved in and gave them their money back. We were concerned that they could not find my original ticket (probably the reason it took hours to get it back) but they found my original boarding pass and hopefully it will all be OK on Thursday when we try again. I do not have great hopes, but hopefully it will work out.
Exhausted from the ordeal, we walked back to the Hilton and decided to eat at a restaurant called Cabana Las Lilias. It was very pricey, but very good! We kept laughing over wine and food over what we had just experienced, and despite some frustrations we all had, we all now have a great experience to share with everyone.
We finally made it back to the hotel around 7pm and relaxed for a bit before heading out to meet Irina, one of the people who worked at the convention with Mom and Shirley. We met them at an Italian family style restaurant called Piegari. It was under an underpass with a few other restaurants which made for an interesting atmosphere. The place was close to the Recoleta district of Buenos Aires. Irina and her friends from Brazil were a lot of fun and we had a great meal together. We took lots of photos and I had fun introducing them to the Gorn. They all wanted to take a photo with him. One waiter referred to the three Brazilians and Charlie’s Angels and wanted to be Charlie!
After midnight, we finally bid them farewell and headed back to pack our things and get ready for our side trip to Iguazu. I managed to get ready fairly quickly and managed a luxurious 4 hours of sleep.