Kaye has itchy feet – again. Read why - and where they’re taking her - only on Just About Travel
When I left you last time, I was about to board my flight for Buenos Aires. I boarded alright but then - along with the rest of the plane - proceeded to spend the next 60 minutes sitting on tarmac as our departure time was delayed, much to the annoyance of most passengers.
But I didn’t mind for I knew that I would soon be up in the air - arguably my favourite place on the planet - being looked after by Iberia’s stewards. I wasn’t wrong: despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that Spain’s largest airline chose to ignore my request for a vegetarian meal, I found myself plied with ridiculous quantities of food and drink throughout the flight.
Eighteen hours later I touched down at Ezeiza International Airport with a certain amount of excitement and trepidation mixed in my heart, and headed to the baggage carousel to collect my backpack… only it never arrived. As I stood alone willing my bag to show up, I wondered - for what wouldn’t be the only time that day - “What have I done?”
There was a customer service counter, of course, but the staff were speaking a language I didn’t understand forcing me to resort to charades to convey that my luggage - containing all my belongings - appeared to have been mislaid. With the help of good old ‘Google Translate’ (what did we do in pre-internet days?), the airport employees eventually assured me that my bag would be on the next flight out of Blighty and dispatched to my Buenos Aires address, as soon as humanly possible.
Modified, I emerged from arrivals and made my way to BA’s Micro-centre and the apartment I was to call home for the next seven days. Unfortunately by the time I finally pitched up at my accommodation - booked through Airbnb - my hosts had, understandably, reached the conclusion that clearly I was a no show and gone out for the day.
Sat on an strange doorstep sans bag, dressed in UK winter clothes with the blistering Buenos Aires sun beating down on my back, I found myself questioning for the second time in as many hours, what on earth had possessed me to press ‘pause’ on London life and make a beeline for BA?
I knew no one. I didn’t speak Spanish. Suddenly the euphoria I had felt about my whole “if you don’t like the road you’re walking, change it’” epiphany had been replaced by a palpable sense that this was real. The lack of sleep (late night leaving drinks in London combined with the fact I’d been stuck behind a screaming baby for the duration of my flight) and a slight hangover (note to self: do not drink white wine while sky high again) probably didn’t help the situation either.
Trying to ignore the tightening of my chest, I wandered off and ran into a bruised and battered looking Belgian backpacker who, it transpired, had been beaten up (and by all accounts, badly) and mugged the previous night. “Get out of here while you can,” was his opening sentence. “I have travelled all over South America and this is the worst city I have visited by far,” he moaned to me before boarding a bus straight out of Argentina.
Great. “What have I done?” I wailed to my Mum over FaceTime later that evening as I waited for my bag to be delivered. “Kaye,” she said “you don’t have to stay. You can come home.” However upon hearing those words I realised that while it’s lovely to have options, returning to London just isn’t viable for me at this point in time. I had chosen to leave London, albeit only for a few months, for a reason: to hear myself think. To live in the moment.
Keep busy, I thought, then you won’t have time to wobble. And that’s exactly what I did that first week: in the evenings, after I finished work, I’d take a tango class or immerse myself in an Internations event. Sure enough by the end of week one, life in Buenos Aires began to look a lot more appealing than it had first appeared.
Make no mistake: BA is a beautiful, sexy, creative and confident city - just like its residents (often referred to as Porteños) who always seem to be smiling. I’m sure that the scorchio weather has something to do with their sunny dispositions - it’s hard to stay upbeat in London when (in winter at any rate) it’s cold and wet every single day. When I check the temperature in London (currently five degrees celsius to BA’s blood boiling 31°C) I realise it’s little wonder I was beginning to feel semi suicidal back home.
But it’s not just BA’s balmy temperatures that I am loving: I’m also enjoying eating my way around the city. I must be consuming an extra thousand calories a day thanks to my mandatory morning Cafe con leche y medialunas (a creamy white coffee accompanied by a sweet croissant) and afternoon helado (heavenly ice cream - the dulche de leche flavour is to die for). However I've consoled myself with the thought that while eating here maybe bad for my waistline, it’s good for my soul.
To be continued tomorrow (Tuesday 17 March)