February 13th, 2013
T minus 0!
We got up early this morning to try and finish up the last of what we had to do before heading out to the airport. It didn’t seem like much and so I was looking forward to a relaxed morning before the journey began.
I volunteered to take the dogs out for a walk as I wanted to make sure that they got a good walk in since our housesitter wasn’t going to be showing up until 4 pm. Plus, I wanted to spend some time with them since I will miss them badly while we are gone. It was very cold when we started out, right around 0. My stupid cattle dog…or actually, Susanne’s stupid cattle dog (Ringo) took off after some critter and Sadie and I ended up walking back and forth on the road waiting for him. He finally showed back up…..he had been waiting at the front door of the house. Dumbass. So off we went to do the Creek Loop. Ringo and Sadie have grown to be amazing buddies and they always manage to get me to laugh at some point on our walk. One will take off like they’ve got a bee in their bonnet; the other will give chase at full tilt until they decide it’s time to wrestle. It always makes me smile and you kind of have to see it to appreciate it.
As we were getting back toward the house, Susanne’s stupid cattle dog took off again. Sigh. We finally got back to the house at 7:20 am and the plan was to leave at 8:00 am. I was slightly irritated and Susanne was worried that we had been gone so long. So much for a relaxed morning. We scrambled around getting everything in the car and managed to leave by about 8:15, but we didn’t have a chance to eat breakfast.
After a stop at my office to pick up my power cord, we made it to the airport with about 3 hours to spare. I usually like to cut it much tighter, but I figured we had a lot of stuff and I didn’t want Susanne to be nervous. I dropped Susanne off and went and parked the car. When I got back, Susanne had already checked in, so it seemed like all systems go.
Susanne had checked the baggage allowances on the United website and it indicated we could have 70lbs per bag. So I had tossed a few guitar books in at the last minute. Well, one of the bags weighed 54 lbs and that seemed to create quite a stir at the United counter. A big debate raged over whether the weight limit was 50 lbs or 70 lbs. Several of the United personnel were very happy to tell us that we were idiots and they knew. Sheesh. I’ll yank the 4 lbs for god’s sakes. Finally the manager came over and waived the 4 lbs excess baggage.
(Susanne contemplating why it takes 8 United employees to check 4 bags)
Ok, now all systems go. But wait.
Argentina has the reputation for having one of the most insane governments on the planet. There are amazing stories about some of the pure nuttiness they implement. I figured that we wouldn’t experience any of that until we were at least in Argentina……but I was wrong.
Evidently, in December, Argentina decided to implement a reciprocation fee. Don’t ask me what that is, but it was $160/ person. So the United dudes are all scrambling around trying to figure out what the rules are. The have this dirty plastic bag full of random scraps of paper they dig through to figure it out.
Tick tock tick tock.
Finally the supervisor comes over and informs us that, yes, we did indeed need to pay the tax and that she can’t let us on the plane until we do. Ok, no problemo. The most expensive reciprocation I’ve ever purchased, but no worries
Except United can’t do it. You have to go to a website and register and then pay and then print the stuff out. It seems that Argentina would want to encourage rich gringos to come down and spend money, and even if you are going to put a reciprocation tax in, you would think that you would probably at least be willing to collect it on arrival. Nope. They will turn you around and send you home unless you have the piece of paper already in hand. Makes perfect sense to me.
Now we are about 1 hr out from boarding. I ask her “is there a place that we can print these out in the airport?” and she says “no”. Yikes. Our only option is to try and go to a nearby hotel and print. But we have no car now.
Panic starts to set in.
Then she says, just get on the internet and purchase them and we can print them out for you. Huh? I thought you just said that there was no place to print them. The answer must lie in the dirty plastic bag with all the random pieces of paper or something
Ok, so there is hope. We try and get on the DIA internet and it’s down. Ugh. She yells over at us to do it on our cell phones. So Susanne starts typing in all the info. The 4G network is flakey and just when she tried to pay, it won’t accept payment. Ugh. We use my phone. It works!!!
Then they take her back into the back and print it out from their computer. Now, maybe I’m a bit high strung and type-A and everything, but it seems like it might have made sense for the United dudes to let us go use their computer from the get go. Just sayin’.
We make our way to gate and just barely make the flight. We don’t get any lunch at the airport like we had planned. I was grateful for our 3 hr cushion.
(really? you can’t let me pay when I get there???)
Crow eating time: Susanne is always chronically early to flights. It drives me crazy. Why waste valuable time sitting at the stupid airport. What a waste of ones life. After today, if Susanne says “let’s get to the airport 4 hrs early”, I am all for it.
All is well ,we made it Newark and are now waiting for our plane after a nice meal and some great wine.
Life is good. Wine, olives, some salami.
See you all in Argentina!
4 thoughts on “Off we Go! Kinda. Ugh. Yeah!”
Doh!!!! Sounds like things have changed in the last month? Usually you cue up in BA and pay the “sorry I am from USA” fee. Sorry for the stress 🙁
Wow! Maybe that will be your one “thing” for this trip. There’s always one you know.
Much like Suzanne, I also like to arrive early to the airport. It allows me to transition gently into “travel mode” and I usually enjoy a snack and a glass of wine (or beer) before boarding. It allows me to avoid eating airplane food and it beats the stress of rushing to pass through the “security gauntlet” and trying to make it to the boarding gate at the last minute. As an old quote attributed to Napoleon says, “habille-moi lentement, je suis pressé” (dress me slowly for I am in a rush); or its American equivalent: haste makes waste! Wishing you both a wildly fun, safe and memorable trip of a lifetime.
Thanks, Athena! So far, so good. We are way down south now, and I’m happy to report that the incredibly hot weather we experienced in Buenos Aires is gone and we are now enjoying sunshine and temps in the low 70s. Perfect!
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