And….landing

ImageWell, the day finally came when I had to make my way back to England. Goodbyes and hugs here there and everywhere, of course lots of tears, and my little one looking lost and confused as to why he suddenly was wearing a long sleeve shirt and a jumper when he has been with a sleeveless bodysuit for almost a month.

The flight was at 13:00. Knowing that in Buenos Aires almost anything is possible, I made the decision to leave the house reasonably early, perhaps too early to the trained and experienced traveller, but for me, it made all the sense in the world.

Let’s put it this way: I was not in England, where you know that the major obstacle between you and the airport is either the M25 jam packed or the Piccadilly line with “minor” delays due to a signalling problem and in the worst case scenario, you can always talk to someone and explain your situation and make the suitable arrangements; no.

I was in Buenos Aires, where you can find yourself facing a demonstration or a picket at any point of your route to the  International Airport (important: there is only ONE route to the International Airport and there’s only one International Airport which is called Ministro Pistarini, AKA Ezeiza (that’s the name of the location).

The other Airport is smaller in size and it is the National Airport and it is located by the riverside and it is called Aeroparque Jorge Newbery. Mind you, you may, on the odd occasion, catch an international flight from Aeroparque; but that is almost one chance in a hundred.

Anyway, we left early to Ezeiza, in order to avoid and/or diminish any kind of situation explained above. Hence, we woke up early – that’s not a problem when you have a seven month old little boy! – And got ready to leave my mum’s flat where we were staying.

Add to that that there was no electricity (the previous night was raining quite hard, hence the electric substation that feeds the blocks was flooded, hence no power) and I had to come down 10 stories with a baby, the pram, two suitcases and the pertinent bags for both for the flight; and oh, yes, my mother who was very persistent to come with us to Ezeiza,  despite the fact she would face going up ten stories in order to reach her home when she got back from waving goodbye.

You may wonder, well, probably the power at that point would be restored. Nah. Is Buenos Aires, very difficult that anyone would provide services during a weekend.

Weekends are sacred down there, and if anyone can avoid doing some work – even emergency ones like restore electricity – they will do. To give you an idea, when I called to report the power cut (this was at 5am) the person who answered the phone sounded half asleep, and the answer to my query was “due to union problems, we don’t know when we will be able to send an emergency service to your area”. You may wonder when the service was restored. Nearly 12 hours later, according to my mother who sent an email to tell me so.

So. After doing my exercise quota, we got in the car and made our way to Ezeiza. And an hour later, we were there, trying to find a place to park. In the meantime, I was left in the drop off area in order to wrap the suitcases and get everything ready to start the check in.

Bags wrapped – that’s something I always do, no matter what! I had some nasty experiences before and I learnt my lesson the hard way! – boarding passes and passports in my hand, I made my way to the BA desk. It was crowded. Despite the fact that I arrived almost three and a half hours earlier, obviously there were people with the same idea.

However, someone from BA saw me with my little one and told me to go straight to the beginning of the queue (would you believe the amount of evil looks we got?) which I did. Because I had everything printed, the process was fairly smooth. The assistant at the desk was very helpful as well which made the beginning of the journey a bit more bearable.

More tears and more hugs, we make our way to customs.

Oh well, sit down and grab a cup of tea, because that deserves an entire new chapter.

The kindness of strangers

ImageI caught the train to Brighton at Clapham Junction, and when getting into the train where technically there is a specific space for prams – same one for wheelchairs – I noticed  that space was already taken by two ladies who did not bat an eyelid when they saw me pushing the pram and looking at them in an inquisitive way (like, erm, you should be moving??). It is important to remark that the carriage was almost empty, so there was not a problem of lack of seating. Of course nothing happened from their side.

No worries, I thought, there is another space near the luggage area where with a bit of logistics I can sit down AND accommodate the pram just by my side.   So I did! and 5 minutes later we were all settled and enjoying the journey, my little one fascinated by the surroundings, me with a cup of coffee and a croissant.

We were approaching East Croydon, when one of the ladies who were sitting down where I should be seated with my little one, came close and said:

– “We are getting off now, so you can seat where we were, it will be more comfortable for you”

I was *just* swallowing a bite of my croissant, hence I did the gesture of covering my mouth with one hand and signalled “stop” with the other one.

I think she completely ignored it, because she looked at me and said to her friend (whilst she was staring at me and my little one)

– “Oh, no worries, she is foreign, she does not understand”

To which I replied, now that I had finished swallowing the bite of croissant:

– “I’m sorry ma’am, I was swallowing a bite of croissant and it is quite rude to speak with a mouth full. Thank you for your offer, but we are quite settled here now”

She looked at me in complete disbelief and quickly made her way to the door.

I carried on, watching through the window, and sipping my coffee.