Argentina 2009 – Day 11&12

Today we slept in and lounged around the hotel. We were not really motivated to go out and do anything and after a long week it was nice to relax. We surfed the Internet and ate at the hotel bar for lunch. I was toying with the idea of going back to Florida street to see that shop with the clothes I liked, but I don’t really have enough room to squeeze anything else in my suitcase. Another thing I was thinking about was treating myself to a massage treatment at the Hilton Spa, but they were booked for the whole afternoon. Next time, I need to plan ahead.

We finally left the hotel and did a walk around the Puerto Madero buildings one last time. Gary was looking for some cookies to take back to Grandma, but we didn’t have much luck. The Hilton was kind enough to extend our checkout to 6pm with no charge, and after that we sent our bags to the bellmen and waited in the Executive Lounge and enjoyed our complimentary snacks and drinks one last time. I took a final “Sunset over Buenos Aires” photo before we packed up and headed to the airport.

It was Friday evening and fortunately we only ran into traffic near one of the toll plazas. I am not sure, but we suspect there was also some Argentina Cup football games going on around the expressway. When we got to EZE, I could not help but feel I was in a completely different airport. There was no mass confusion or people waiting around like when we arrived. It completely changed my perception of the airport from that of second rate has been to actually not bad. The check-in area looked almost brand new so I am sure they have done a little bit of remodeling. At the bag check, my bag was slightly over (not a surprise since it barely made the weight limit coming to Argentina) so I separated it out into my main bag and then the duffel. That is the one advantage of International flights is that you are allowed two free bags to check. Mom again got us into the Admiral Lounge in the terminal. It was not as nice as the Dallas one, but was certainly a huge step up from the regular gate area. I called Dad one last time to make sure all was set for picking me up the next day in LA.

Right before boarding the flight, I picked up some snacks and water for plane ride to Miami. I was looking forward to having bottled water at my disposal when they told me at a secondary search point that I could not carry it on the plane. I told them I bought it in the terminal and they said it did not matter. So I looked the guy in the eye and said, OK. I then proceeded to down the entire bottle of water without stopping right in front of him.

The lady next to him smiled and laughed and I even got a clap or two from the peanut gallery. Since my allergies had been bothering me all day, I had taken an expired Claratin D and when that did not work, I took and additional Benadryl. I was pretty loopy and was already nodding off as the plane was making its way to the runway. As we started to take off down the runway, we immediately aborted and slowed down. The pilot came on and told us that there was a warning indicator that had come on, and we were going to be towed back to the gate. So much for making my connection in Miami to Los Angeles! We ended up being 70 minutes late for departure.

The flight itself was rather smooth and I slept for most of the 9 hours. We arrived in Miami a mere hour before my flight to LA was supposed to depart, and knowing that I still had to clear customs, it looked bleak. Sure enough, when I went to claim and re-check my bags from customs to my LA flight, the TSA folks told me I had missed the flight and had to rebook my flight. You know it is a common thing since American has a rebook counter just past customs. Thankfully, American had taken care of everything for me and I was rebooked on the 1130 flight to LA.

Having been separated from Mom, I went towards her gate to see if she was on the flight and via text message found out she had already boarded the flight. So I walked back to my terminal and proceeded to get some Pizza Hut and just relax. I found out a bit later that Mom and Gary’s flight had been delayed and they were towed back to the gate. They eventually had to disembark the aircraft and wait in a holding area. I was ready to board my flight and they were asking for volunteers to give up seats for a later flight, but I did not want to take any more chances and decided to stick with what I had.

The flight back to LA from Miami was pretty good, despite it being on the dreaded 757. My seatmates were pretty chill and I caught myself doing a half dozen or so snore-awakes before I decided to watch the last episode of Michael Palin’s New Europe and Disney-Pixar’s Up on my iPhone. I arrived into LAX about 10 minutes late and Dad was already circling the airport to pick me up, It seemed like there was a lengthy delay in getting my bags, but I was glad that they both arrived safely.

I found out later in the day that Mom did not leave until 4 hours later than originally, and then on a flight to Dallas instead of Chicago. I finally made it home 21 hours after departing the Hilton Buenos Aires. I was glad we took it easy the last day in Buenos Aires, I think it helped me deal with the craziness of the flights.

Thus ends another travel chapter! I have no idea when I will be on the road again, hopefully soon!