The world is like that.

Incomprehensible, and full of surprises.

Jorge Amado.

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And….It has been such a long time….

It has been such a long time after the last post.

I just cannot believe how much time has passed, and the most incredible thing is, I don’t feel that much time has gone like water under a bridge.

My little one is now 10 months old, he is crawling and trying to walk in his own very peculiar way; he babbles like there’s no tomorrow from 06:30 in the morning until 20:00 when he goes to sleep.

I laugh when I read my last post, regarding all the hurdles I had to jump in order to get into the airport in Buenos Aires, and that feels like a very distant memory. BTW, you really want to know what happened when we got to passport control and customs?

Well, long story short, we passed passport control pretty straight forward – controls in Argentinian Airports are nothing like the checks in England, trust me on that one – but the inconvenience started when we had to go through bags control and the infamous x ray machine.

I say infamous because the police officers made it like that. I give you the picture: I was leaving my mother behind, with my little one half asleep, juggling hand bag, bag, pram, passports, flight tickets after a quite agitated beginning of the day only to end up in a queue after being told by a lovely girl at the BA desk I was going to go straight through the fast track queue. YEAH RIGHT.

I followed the signs towards the “fast track” only to find out it was a “closed lane”. I even – naively – went to ask if such a queue existed, only to find out that yes, it *did* exist, but oh, not today. They did not have enough passengers with a need for it, and oh, there’s only 2 (yes, two) x ray machines working.

Well, at least I had everything sorted in a way; going through the x ray machine was going to be like a walk in the park.

That is, if I was in another airport.

After waiting for 30 minutes in the queue, finally my turn to go through the x ray machine came. I started to prepare my little one to get out of the pram, put the bags on the tray, removed the milk and food from the backpack neatly separated in transparent bags, and a full explanation in my mind for when the police officer ask about the formula milk in cartons.

But guess what? I did not have to give any explanations. Instead, I had to pass the pram through the x ray machine. To my amazement, I was asked to fold the pram and put it on the x ray machine. Let’s recap here; I was alone, with my 7 months old and two bags. A man – shall I say gentleman? – offered to help me, but guess what? The police said no. I asked the police officer how did he expect me to fold the pram, what should I do, put the bags through the x ray machine, then the baby, then the pram? It felt like the tale of what would you cross first, the chicken the eggs or the fox.

His answer, “It is not my business”. Yep. That was his answer.

So, I left my little one seated on the floor, folded the pram. At this point, my bags, with the passport, the money, flight tickets, computer, phone, camera was on the other side of the x ray machine. And to add insult to injury, the police officer decided to move the queue a bit, letting other passengers go through. Cheers for that.

Pram went through the x ray machine. On the other side of the x ray machine, finally someone – I believe it was a supervisor – came to find out what was going on. She asked if I needed some help, I answered yes, but I was not quite sure if the police officers would allow her to help me. To which she answered that obviously some people there did not know what it was like to be travelling alone with a baby. Before I left the x ray machine I did take my sweet time to check that nothing was missing. Of course, needless to say, under the evil looks of the police officers.

At that point, my little one was starting to get hungry, and I desperately needed a coffee. So we went for a quick look around the free shop whilst looking for a place to sit down and fulfil our needs. And choose between two coffee shops, one more expensive than the other, with a very limited range.

The time to jump on the plane came, the flight was marvellous, the crew ever so caring! I think it was just the right TLC we needed after the ordeal.

Conclusion:

– Argentinian customs are not mother-and-child-travelling-alone friendly when it’s very early in the morning during weekends.
– The coffee shops are outrageously expensive and the choices are limited, again, very early in the morning during weekends.
– There are some charitable souls out there, even when it’s the weekend, and very early in the morning.

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.