I imagine all the ancient Greek Gods fighting on Mount Olympus, just like in one of the classic mythological stories, over whether we should ever get home. Enough of this, you will see what I mean as my story unfolds.
Mauricio arrived dead on time and I though that we would introduce him to Sebastian first and get it over with. There was no sign of him downstairs, but as I am standing by the door through to the garage, trying to put back the handle which had come off in my hand, Philippe turned up. It was nice of him to come and say goodbye, but I think he is privately having trouble letting go. He has been here so long and really loved the place.
When we had coffee and Philippe had left we spent some time going over everything in the place. I know we had lots of time, but I still get the feeling we had forgotten something. Still we are always just an email away.
I got some good Spanish practice today. First listening to Mauricio and Sebastian, I do believe they actually understood each other. I always got the feeling that Sebastian was just making funny noises as it sounds nothing like the Spanish I have learned. Anyway they seemed to get along well. I think we have left the place in safe hands.
Next the phone rang “Feench?” actually, to be fair, it was the best rendition of my name I have yet heard here. Turns out our taxi will be late, due to heavy traffic. Then another panic moment, I found my staple gun in my hand baggage. They would never let me on the plane with that. It was too late to re-pack so it just had to be left, I just hope I do not need it at home.It is fortunate we had calculated to allow three hours at the airport. Another two calls later and the taxi was finally here. We took a very strange route out of the city, but I think we hit less traffic than usual, so the guy obviously knew what he was doing. All the same we were now down to only just over two hours.
I was already stressed, because not only was our time shortened, but we were unsure of the weight of the cases and I had not received a confirmation Email of the flight, as I normally do.
First queue, and it turns out this one was Air France but not our flight. Our queue was further down the hall and much longer. We finally got to the girl who was passing people through to the queue proper, when she asked for my boarding pass. “No tengo” I said. I explained that we do not have a printer here and we always book in at the desk. Well now it appears that Ezeiza has joined the rest of the world in demanding you check in before you check in, just to save time, you understand.
So we then had to find the machines which had arrived since our last journey from here, check in and then re-join the queue, to check in again. We arrived at the very pleasant girl again and she said, we cannot check in until we have paid the overstay fine. No amount of protesting would help. We simply had to drag our cases through three terminals to terminal A where Migraciones is.
We had only one hour now, BP now already at something over 200. At the big glass box I finally managed to get the guys attention. “And you have not left the country in this time?” He asked. He then proceeded to explain to me what I already knew, that we must pay a fine. He told me I must take these papers to the Banco Nacional and pay my fine, then return here with them. Thankfully Viv could stay here with the cases.
I found the Bank easily enough, but the queue. Then some guy at the back directed my past the big queue which was waiting for the ATM. This helped only a little as there was another queue, but a big security guy directed me to a much smaller queue, as these were all waiting for cambio. At least I was getting closer. Only two people in front of me, but it seemed an age before they called the guy in front of me in. Standing there with nothing I could do about it, I could see the time ticking away. I fancifully though “If I am going to die of a heart attack, now would be the time” I could feel my blood pressure rising. I suspect I would have popped the mercury out of the manometer, if they had tested me now.
Finally I was through. The guy took my money and stamped some papers then just left me there “Listo?” I shouted to him “Si listo” he said. Now for the 200 meter dash back to migraciones, dodging the crowds on my way. Finally we had our fine paid and could go, but now we had to run back to terminal E.
Viv shot off ahead, but every time I started running my computer rucksack fell off my shoulders. We got back to our queue with only minutes to spare. The guy there said “just relax now, you are OK”. So we passed him and got into the queue proper. Finally passed the yellow line and the conveyors had stopped. The check in girl would not let me put my case on the scale. Frustrated I left her with our passports and took my case to one of the empty check ins. Disaster 24.5 kilos. So I had to hastily take some stuff from my case and put it in Vivs. Then weigh both cases again. Both now 22.5, just in. The only problem was we had decided to bring a few bottles of wine with us and these, carefully stowed, were now transferred and in a much less safe position in Vivs case, which also had her new dress. If anything happened to those bottles, her dress would be ruined and my life would be hell for maybe years to come.
After three false starts the belts finally took our cases away. Then the girl said we must present our fines and passports to immigration on the way out. I had a bad feeling about this. Just about everything we had been told, or read, about the overstay fee, had so far been wrong. In the end it was not bad just an extra couple of minutes at passport control. We stood there and watched after one after another were called to booth number 5. “He’s good this number 5 ” said Viv. Luck finally on our side? we were called to booth 5.
It did not end there though. Viv presented her passport and fine, scanned her eye three times before it was right, then the fingerprint machine started playing up. After four attempts she was through. I moved to the counter and he shouted to Viv “Passport”. Viv did not understand, and I said he wants your passport again. Seems it had not worked and she had to go through the whole rigmarole again. Then it was my turn, we thought it would never end as his machine again and again failed to register us.
We needed a drink by the time we finally arrived in the departure lounge, and I just needed to relax a little. As usual they started queuing the minute anyone appeared at the desk. We had our seat now so we just let them get on with it. They called our rows first so we then had to fight our way through the loonie’s who though they would get there quicker, but we were finally on.
Too hyped up, I can never sleep on a plane anyway. I just watched five films, taking full advantage of my Ebay noise reducing earphones.
The flight went well apart from the breakfast, which they always seem to leave until too late. They were getting ready for landing and we still had not had our coffee. I grabbed a steward and we got a coffee, but no milk. After sever attempts I gave up and had to drink Viv’s as well as mine, to save it spilling.
Big wusses we are. The stewardess came and asked if we had enjoyed the flight, apparently they had noticed how often we use Air France. “Oh yes, no problems” we said. Should have mentioned the coffee, but that moment is gone.
At Paris De Gaulle we quickly found our gate but stopped for a coffee on the way. I could not get my phone to boot up, it kept telling me “No sim” so I tried Vivs, I needed to tell our taxi that we were on time and not delayed by the strikes in Buenos Aires. Viv’s phone was dead, no charge. I was tempted to have a go, after all I had told her to charge it before we left, but the state we were in it would have blown up into nuclear war. (See I am learning something as I get older)
Still I was not in the best of moods, and she could tell. After a rant about Orange, I managed to get my phone working and a message to Andy Taxis. (Do I get advertising revenue, for the cheap plug Andy?)
So we sat ourselves down at gate 32K as directed, but the sign said “Moscow” Must have been an earlier flight because there was also a sign that said “Manchester”. The 12:30 loading time passed and there was no sign of them loading and no one at the gate. Then the announcements for “Moscow” started. I had a bad feeling about this. The people checking them through were right out of our reach, I desperately looked for someone to ask.
Finally there was a girl in the next compound on a phone. I shouted to get her attention. “Your flight was moved to 37K” she said “and it is closed” We ran Up. The girl there said “we are closed you will have to get the next flight” I argued with her but she just kept saying that they had made an announcement. I had been disturbed from my book, every few minutes to listen for the announcements, but had never heard them. The plane was still there with the doors open, and the luggage bays were closed, so I kept at her, knowing they will not fly with my luggage on the plane, in case I had wanted to blow it up. There was another guy there who meanwhile was on the phone, I watched him, thinking this had something to do with us. Just then my phone went off. I checked it and Viv said “What is that now?” “A message from Air France, telling me that the gate has been changed” I said giving the girl a look. The guy put the phone down and opened the gate, “You are Ok” He said. “Thank you said I”
We rushed onto the plane and took our seats. Then they made an announcement that they were just waiting for two more passengers before they could take off. I asked the steward if it was us, as we had rushed onto the plane and were not sure they had registered us. It appeared not. Then not two, but four English speakers arrived on the plane, the two that were sat in front of us said that they had been stuck at 32K and never heard an announcement. I now have my suspicions that they only announced it in French, because that would have been meaningless to me and possibly these four as well.
Fortunately Andy’s wife was efficient, (Andy’s Taxis) as always and we were whisked off home in luxury.
Mary had been in and left us some provisions in the kitchen. This was more than fortunate, Viv had ordered shopping on-line for tonight, but with worries about the strike, she had changed the day to Friday. Not only provisions but she also gave us a meal, we were expecting to have to eat at the Red Lion tonight. Thanks Mary.
The house has survived well on its own all this time, and the conservatory was radiating heat into the house, so it was not as cold as I had suspected.
After so many hours without sleep I was off for an early night. Just one other problem, I had to cancel my Storage contract as it needs a weeks notice, but all my phones were dead. Another reason I wanted a phone without batteries in Argentina, but Mary came to my rescue yet again.