Friday, September 26, 2008

I made it! First morning in Buenos Aires, I am sitting at an internet cafe uploading the posts I wrote yesterday in the plane... Was a long flight but check it out for yourselves.
Did I tell you how much the Interner connection costs here? 2 Pesos/hr = less than € 0.80

Goodbye European continent, Hello Ms Iréne P. (Thur 25 Sep – Day 1)
(Where am I now: seat 21J - flight IB 6845 to Buenos Aires in an Airbus 340-600 called Pio Baroja)
(What am I listening to: Rock the Casbah from the Clash)

So, I’m about +3 hours in this flight already, a flight time that already makes some unconfident air-travelers nervous – I try not to think about the mechanics involved in this flight – that is not an option else I would spend all my trip worrying about the next flight. Some numbers though are interesting, although maybe not entirely comforting: the distance this plane needs to cover is 10,050km (already done 1839km is what I read on the screen and the little plane seems to be on the West coast of Africa, just west of Palma de Mallorca), these (4) engines will work for 12 hours non-stop at an external environment temperature of about -50 degrees, the plane is fully loaded (and I mean fully) This is the biggest, best airplane Airbus has ever built before the A380 double-decker. But frankly this one could be a bit newer.

Fearful flyers beware: the upholstery in the cabins and the in-flight entertainment system do not mean that plane A is better than plane B, it might just mean that this one could use a slight facelift. There’s however a difference: I’ve used the same plane with Swiss & Lufthansa and I admit that it DOES look better than the Iberia one. From the retro 60’s upholstery seats (the best are in business class, they look like the brown sofas we had in our Athens apartment in the 80’s), to the “flat” (yeah right) screens that are spread out every 20 meters, this is an “old/basic” model. I mean forget the little retractable joypad on your seat’s armrest, forget the screen on the back of the seat in front of you or the fold-out screens that come down from the ceiling every 3-4 rows, forget the lumbar adjustment button for your back or the foldable footrest on your seat. We are talking basic here. At least the film they are playing is new: Indiana Jones 4, but just like the plane, Dr Jones’ jumping/whipping/punching around simply seems out of date. Bah, who cares anyway, I just want the engines to keep humming (because that’s how they sound through my headphones) and the landing gear to come down over Buenos Aires - the rest is just details.

All I am trying to say is “Mana min anysuxeis, ola kala” (Mom don’t worry, all is well!)

Change of topic, I will talk about Iberia again a bit later if I have time. Let me tell you about my neighbor. She’s sitting next to me in seat 21K, Ms Iréne P. Of course it is not her real name but those that have actually met the real Iréne P (the mother of my “koumbaro” Ody) would immediately agree on the resemblance. A middle-aged, French-speaking (oh, yeah I am speaking French to her) stylish lady with light-colored bright eyes behind a rimless pair of glasses, she even has the same tone of voice Ms Irene has. I haven’t asked her name but I am sure it is Iréne. She lives in Nice with her husband but (of all places…!) she is Swiss and comes from Morges (for the non-Geneva residents this is a small town on the way to Lausanne).

It’s her fifth time visiting Argentina the past 3 years. “Why? Do you have family there?” I asked. “Well yes, sort of. A few years ago a man from Argentina with the same surname as mine sent me an email asking about my origins and the village I grew up.” It turned out to be her long lost second/third cousin /whatever (my French is not that good with family tree titles), his family immigrated to Argentina, he was born in Tierra del Fuego, his dad was a merchant ship captain (no, no bastard story here – I just told you what his dad did because being born in Ushuaia is not that common). And “he’s family – I visit often. I’ve discovered a whole new part of my family and who we really are”.

Right. Now, I am really impressed. 10,000km away, never seen each other, the guy has never visited Switzerland and they manage to find each other (ah the glorious, unstoppable power of electrons moving through hyperspace eliminating distance, reducing all communication times to a flash)and end up being relatives– now don’t start telling me this is a big planet, so much distance to cover, travelling is hard, etc. No it’s not – look at us: You are practically travelling with me, even meeting the same people that are sitting next to me… so when there’s a will (to travel and keep the links), there’s a way…

Still don’t believe me? Look at Ms Iréne...

This is a long flight indeed (Thur 25 Sep – Day 1)
(Where am I now: seat 21J - same place...)
(What am I listening to: the cabin noise in the airplane.)

I did what I could, really. Followed all the rules, drank cups and cups of water, stretched every 40 minutes, went to the toilet, I’ve been a good boy. I just can’t get rid of this bloody headache that’s been bothering me for the past hour. The time in Europe is 22:15 and I’ve realized Argentina is -5, so it’s only the afternoon. I have about 2.5 hours to go and even if I wanted I won’t be able to use this laptop much longer – battery is dying. I guess that’s pretty normal after 6 hours…

I browsed through the Lonely Planet guide for Argentina, the one Adrian gave me after his own sabbatical. This country is immense – I will treat it with respect for a time allocation standpoint, that’s for sure: It will be the longest stay I am having in any place. I need to take a flight to Mendoza (near the border of Chile) on the 15 of Oct. This means I have 20 days to discover Buenos Aires, Iguazu falls and a few other cities close to this side of Argentina. Apparently they have a great bus network with overnight buses (yes mom, don’t worry, I will lock up all my things) It reminds me of my first big trip a while ago. Did I ever tell you about this? Exactly 10 years ago, at the tender age of 22, just fresh out of University I took a backpack and toured Europe for a month. Was brilliant. This was a time where cell phones we nowhere to be found and even internet was pretty limited (at least in Greece). I used all kind of transport at that time: a freight ship, Ro/Ro type (Roll on / Roll off that carries trucks) called Filippos, to take me to Italy trains, cars, airplanes but mostly buses. Greece, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Spain, UK… I have done the most absurd bus trip from Brussels, Belgium to Cordoba, south of Spain. 24 hours all in all… Through France, the Pyrenees, all the way down to Madrid and Cordoba. Different times, younger body and mind, but let’s see, I am all up for it.

Did I mention where I am staying the first few days in Buenos Aires? I am staying at a Greek I’ve never met before that is part of the couchsurfing team in BA. Now, don’t say, why is he staying (of all people) with a Greek?! It was karma. A few months ago I was explaining to a friend how couchsurfing works and demonstrated the search engine: “Let’s look for someone in Argentina, Buenos Aires that speaks English and Spanish, male and has a couch available” 5 seconds later I get the list and on the top of it is Menelaos P, a Greek. “I am going to see him” I said and the rest is history (or will be once I get out of this plane). I plan to write more about him once I get to know him, I’ll be getting at his place at around 23:00 local time. That’s about 4-5am for you guys in Europe.

I am also going to try and attach a little video: photos are great but I just realized you can do so much with all this technology I am carrying I might as well use it, so you can see exactly how things sound and feel over here. I’m not doing too much though. Once the words in the blog are replaced by the proliferation of images and even more so, moving images, all this typing on my little keyboard becomes redundant. Call me traditionalist, or plain nerdy, but it is text all the way over here. 14 minutes of battery to go and I need to stretch. “Headache, begone!!”

(Click again if it doesn´t work..)


Evi T said...

Great idea to videaki kai all time classic to xamogelaki, alla apo edw kai pera lege mas kai kamia kouventa re aderfe mou... Ti national geographic traveller 8a gineis xwris perigrafes? :P

Christoph W said...

I told you to go in business :)

Hey man, this is great, I am already addicted to checking out your blog. Keep on writing, and have fun !


odevoted said...

can't see her...but mom says tks for the praise