Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Flight

Wyona says that it has been 28 hours between when we left home and when we got to the Hotel Sarmiento in Buenos Aires. I was wondering where the night went, but that is hard to tell because on the plane the windows go down and the passengers cover over their eyes with black-out glasses, or they plug themselves into non-stop movies. The stewardesses go up and down the isles giving drinks of water to those who are still awake. I saw movies on screens one that was either inches away from my face, on the back of Wyona’s seat in front of me, or so far away that I had to unbuckle my seat belt and move forward to touch the screen since I was right in the bulkhead. A large reach for such a small screen.

There was one small toddler on the plane. His mother let him walk up and down the isles. Many passengers were like me, noticing the single child stretch his legs on the flight to Toronto. That was in contrast to the connecting flight to Buenos Aires. Children in the arms of many of the young couples. My guess was that there were over 300 passengers on the plane. Well over. The connecting corridor through which we walked after our showing our boarding pass was lined with 2 wheelchairs and then so many strollers and baby carriers that I burst out laughing. Not just the old and the very young need special wheels. I couldn’t help but notice the even the very fit on the plane use special equipment. Thick socks and sturdy hiking boots made them stand out, as well as their elaborately designed backpacks buckling securely at the hips. With a single flourish of one arm, I watched a slight middle aged woman grab her backpack off the luggage carousel and buckle on her travelling pack. I wondered how many hours of training she had done before being able to do that.

I stood in the isles at the front of our section of the plane, looking down at the ground before landing in Santiago – my first glimpse of the Andes: small sections of farm land, green at the bottom of valleys where rivers run; winding switchback brown roads crawling to the top of some of the dry, yellow peaks. Just as I have seen in books, so why such a surprise to see that in real life, to want to stand there for long minutes as we flew over the mountains. 

Calgary was cold when I left. Plus Wyona had warned me there would be some cold days going around Cape Horn. I brought mitts, hats and coats for sub zero weather. The temperature on the plane was cool and I covered up with a sweater, a scarf, the airplane blanket and wondered when I would warm up. I was peeling off layers by time we got in the taxi for the ride down the causeway into Buenos Aires, a lovely 28 degrees above, such a surprising burst of heat. 

I pressed my nose to taxi window on the way into the city, watching the buildings of the suburbs, never really able to stop watching how families in apartments take care of their wash by hanging it in so many different styles on their balconies. The weathering of the cement buildings was noticeable – Greg said it is the climate that gets at the cement.

This evening, he took a walk around the streets of our hotel. Wyona stayed behind and asked the clerk at the desk where tomorrow’s market would be held. He gave her a map, drew some lines a few blocks over and then said, “Somewhere around here – if not this street then one over, but in this vicinity, somewhere. You will find it.”

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