Cry for me Argentina — the dark side

It was a sunny August afternoon in Buenos Aires as I walked down Carlos Pellegrini avenue with a friend.  We were off to a museum. The broad sidewalk of this major thoroughfare was crowded with pedestrians, three and four abreast in each direction.  I clutched my purse and camera tightly to my body as I always do when traveling.  

Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a man lunged at my neck and ripped my three gold necklaces from my body.  He raced down the steps of a subway entrance, disappearing with my precious jewelry.  I was in shock. My neck hurt. It seemed unreal. 

Fortunately my friend Gill offered comfort and care.  We retreated to a nearby restaurant where I ordered a beer to calm my nerves.  When I realized what had happened, the tears flowed.  But, I had to be thankful I was not hurt. And, I can only blame myself for wearing gold jewelry on the streets of Buenos Aires.  I’ve read articles about this very kind of theft.  Why did I think it would not happen to me?  Worse yet, did I even think at all? 

That was the first day of a two-week trip to Argentina to ski with the Ski Club of International Journalists in Ushuaia.  See previous blog, “To the End of the World.” 

My stroke of bad luck actually began the day before when we arrived at the airport.  All my European friends proceeded quickly through customs.  I was stopped and told to go to another desk.  There I learned that Americans must purchase a $140 visa to enter Argentina.  Apparently it’s because the U.S. requires the same of Argentineans visiting the United States.  Lucky Europeans. 

Things improved once we got to the ski slopes, at least for the first few days. But on our last day, a gorgeous day that makes skiing an out-of-this world experience,  someone skiing at lightning speed crashed into me as I stood in a lift line.  The binding on the leg with my bad knee (that’s another story) did not release.  My knee was twisted into a painful position.  When I finally got skis and poles sorted out, with help from others in line, I was in pain.  I had to stop skiing.  So I spent most of that last lovely day in a lodge.

 A post trip to Iguazu Falls was part of my Argentina adventure.  Irish friend Isabel and I booked a package tour and spent three great days ( well maybe two for me) at this amazing site. We had a wonderful hotel.  The first day’s tour to the Argentina side of the Falls was super.  We planned to tour the Brazilian side the next day.  When the van arrived to pick us up, the driver asked for our passports.  He spotted my American passport and asked if I had a visa.  I did not.  He said a visa was required of Americans visiting  Brazil.  It would require photos and a trip to the Brazilian consulate in the town where he said I would undoubtedly have to wait in a long line.  He wasn’t sure, but he thought the visa would cost about $160.

 The tour company we booked the trip through knew I was American.  They never mentioned the visa. I thought about trying to get one and joining the tour the next day, but I decided $160 to spend two hours in Brazil was out of the question.  Isabel went and said it was fabulous.

 What else can go wrong?  Unfortunately I picked up some evil germs on the trip.  It’s been two months, and even though I am no longer really sick, I still don’t feel up to par. 

My postcard writing is another saga.  I diligently wrote 12 postcards to friends and family as I thought sending a card from “the end of the world” was neat.  I purchased DHL stamps at a hotel.  The cards, I learned, finally arrived this week, some two months after they were mailed.  But, they did arrive.

I just returned from a trip to Germany where fortunately my luck improved.  During three weeks in the country I experienced only two days of rain – almost unheard of in Deutschland. Stay tuned, I’ll be writing about Iguazu Falls (Argentina – the bright side) and Germany soon.

 Feel free to comment on my blog.  Click “comments” below.



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