Seventeen Days Of Standing In Lines
A Taylor Swift ticket is impossible to get. The only thing close to waiting for that is getting anything in Argentina without either standing in a line or finding out once you get there that there is no there there.
Let me explain.
We were still chasing Andrew’s wired pesos when we got back to Buenos Aires. The first Western Union store we found wasn’t open. The next listed on their app was no longer a Western Union site. Ditto for the next one as we walked the streets of Buenos Aires seeking to redeem our wired pesos. But, at the third stop, a friendly clerk wrote down the address of a storefront she was sure was a real Western Union office, at least that was what my limited Spanish understood her to say.
Western Union appears to be everywhere. The signs are anyway, but when you inquire under the sign, they simply shake their heads no. No there, there.
So, we walked the half mile or so to the address that we were given, and lo and behold it was a real Western Union office. How did we know? Because there was a line. However, we were unsure this line was for Western Union as the Western Union banner was dwarfed by one for a different company, so we asked at a side window. The woman there said yes, it was Western Union and how could she help us without sending us back to the line. We never figured out what the line was for.
We showed her the order number on the BW’s phone from my son’s wire and my passport. We almost had another misfire as he had sent the pesos to Leonard Zwelling and my passport is Leonard Alan Zwelling, but the woman took pity on us and made an exception and we finally felt flush with our 67,134 Argentinian pesos ($200, that day. Who knows tomorrow?)
Then there’s dinner time here—around 9 PM. Thus, all the tango shows start with dinner then with the show at 10:30 at which point I would be face down in my steak sound asleep.
Then our concierge suggested a show at Aljibo. It must be for the Americans and the English as that’s who was there with us. Dinner at 6:45, show at 8:15. It was great, of course, and we knew it was for us when the band leader left for home at 9:30 as we were getting on the bus to return to our hotel.
On Sunday, December 18, we were scheduled to fly to Iguazu on the Brazilian border to see the world-famous waterfalls.
Pick-up time at your hotel is usually three hours before the flight. That would have been 2:40 for us, BUT the World Cup final started at noon with Argentina playing France for the cup. By 2:40 the Argentines of Buenos Aires would either fill the streets in celebration if they beat France or burn cars if they lost. We would never make it to the airport at 2:40 through what was sure to be a monumental, city-wide traffic jam. We went to the airport four and a half hours before flight time. We had to push through crowds around the few televisions to get to our gate and the escalators were stopped with people sitting on them watching the game. But we got upstairs in time to watch the end of what may have been the greatest soccer game ever played.
We were among a crowd of several hundred around a TV at one of the departure gates when the fourth Argentine penalty kicker scored the winning goal and the entire airport went crazy.
We had watched the quarter finals, the semi-finals, and the finals with crowds of the Argentine faithful. And you think Houston went nuts for the Astros winning the World Series? That was nothing. This country turned upside down.
Just as Houston needed the Astros’ win in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey, this country, with a faltering economy and political malfeasance (their vice president, who was a former First Lady and president was convicted of corruption recently), really needed their 35-year old retiring futbol god Lionel Messi to carry his team to victory and seal his place among the greatest ever to play the game.
So, we have waited in many lines at Western Union offices (see below) and at airports. Check-in takes at least 45 minutes here and then you get to pay for your overweight bag carrying 17 days of clothes, but it has all been worth it to see this beautiful land, meet its great people, share its sports excitement, and—wait in line.
But we weren’t through.
Our flight back to Houston was scheduled to depart at 10:05 PM. We were picked up right at 6:05. Ninety minutes later we still weren’t at the airport due to monumental rush hour traffic. No soccer fans, just traffic that rivals the Loop at 59 at 5 PM.
We finally get to the big airport (EZE) and got our boarding passes in no time. Ha!
First line, twenty-five minutes to show your boarding pass so you can get to…
The second line, security check point—another twenty-five minutes, then…
The third line, they check your passport, retinal scan and right thumb on the way OUT of Argentina. Who ever heard of that? Why? Another twenty-five minutes before…
Walking another ten minutes, of course through the duty-free store to the gate where we get to…
The fourth line. Priority group one must have fifty people in it, but at last we get on the plane, right? Not.
There are more people there to peer into your already x-rayed carry-on bags.
We left our hotel at precisely 6:05 PM local time. We boarded the plane at 9:15.
You like lines? Argentina is your country and EZE is your airport.
Argentina is a beautiful country with great people and fabulous food, but they people deserve a better government, a stable currency,—and fewer lines.