17 April 2009

3 Continents in 3 Days

Three continents in three days. But this story is funnier told in the Shaherazade version, so allow me to indulge in some details. . . Wednesday night, after going through two tolls, LB + I arrive at Ezeiza Airport. We walk to the Delta guy, who asks us which language we pick. We pick Spanish, so he blazes through his sentences, putting tags around our four massive suitcases before stopping in mid-sentence: our 90-day tourist visas had expired. Una cosita, he assures us. And this is where the madness begins.

Steps to Paris

1. Take our four suitcases, two backpacks, one satchel, one purse, our computers + zoe in her red transparent mesh doggie carry-on bag, and lug all of it to migraciones

2. There we receive a form where we have to fill out the same information five fucking times

3. Then, LB has to take the forms to Nación bank, pay $100 Argentine pesos for two expired visas

4. LB brings back the receipt + hands that in along with the forms with the redundant information

5. Then, we're given two new forms to fill out + sign. This time, we have to duplicate the same information only twice

6. Now, after receiving the last of the five copies from the first form, along with a paid receipt stamp on back, we walk to Mr. Cosita. He's friendly, likeable, and now we're on our way to the ticket counter where we find out that:

7. Each of our four suitcases is over the limit, like by a lot. And Delta charges $150 per overweight bag for international flights. The man behind the counter informs us that we have to pay $600, and we haven't even told him yet that we have a pooch, which costs another $150. LB + I think about the prospect of dishing out $750 and it makes us want to scream into our hands like locos. Except, like Mr. Cosita, this man is also charming, likeable, friendly, and he tells us just to pay $300, insisting, almost as if to save our pride, that one of the suitcases was close enough to the limit. The next suitcase is his gift, and we thank him profusely. When I try to hand him half of our rent deposit in cash we'd just gotten back, however, he smiles and says, no, you have to go to the Delta Customer Service Window. Of course, that would have been too easy

8. So we walk to another counter in another room, where the man asks us which bags of ours are over the weight limit. We lie--almost instinctively at this point--and tell him we don't remember. Or maybe that is the truth because we're exhausted, and incapable of keeping track of things or creating clean, organized taxonomies in our five hours of dubious sleep. Inside the airplane, it occurs to me that this man doesn't mark or stamp anything on our tickets. In fact, he doesn't even print out a receipt acknowledging he just took half of our rent deposit, meaning we could have easily have just ignored him altogether and still boarded the plane, instead of padding his pockets with money for his niece's upcoming birthday party

9. Finally, we have to pay the airport tax. It's an effortless process, 56 bucks for both of us, but 50 bucks that should have been spent on a café au lait or a big giant croissant, large enough for LB + I to sail to Corsica on

10. After taking a hurried merienda with LB's uncle, cousin + her boyfriend's mom (that we had tried to discourage from coming to the airport because we were afraid it would be hectic--and it was), we wave goodbye, grateful, exhausted, before walking through security and practically running to the terminal

11. Where, for some odd reason, they check everyone's bags again, before boarding the airplane

12. We fly, sleeping more than half of the way. And yet, because it's airplane sleep, it's never really that good, no matter how long it is. Sort of like vending machine snacks

13. In Atlanta, we go through customs, which, is surprisingly simple except for the 40-minute passport line where I meet an old couple in matching pants and blazers that had just come back from Iguazú.The old woman keeps telling him to stop kicking her + turn up his hearing aid. He keeps giving her dirty looks. The customs department didn't even bother looking inside our suitcase, and I'm not even sure they realized we were carrying a pissed off Shia-poo in a red, transparent mesh carry-on bag. So much for that international certificate of health + Rabies booster we got for Zoe

14. Then, we go through another security line. Evidently, the American government doesn't trust other countries to stop the spread of "Islamo-fascism." I mean, if you haven't stripped down to your socks + t-shirt, you might just have a Pepsi bomb halfway up your ass. Because we have Zoe, 2 computers, 2 backpacks + 2 large carry-on bags, this becomes an unbelievable pain in the ass, even worse than in Buenos Aires because now we have to take off our shoes, jackets, sweatshirts, removed our laptops from their cases, in addition to all the other shit we did in Argentina. This is where we lose the dulce de leche that Inez gave us. To be honest, I was fucking overjoyed to get rid of that shit

15. We fly to Chicago, where I have to try and persuade the man working at Delta to stop our luggage from being transferred to Air France. He tells me we're shit out of luck, but just out of curiosity, we walk to the baggage check where we find our $300 suitcases. What was that dude talking about?

16. We wait for LB's family forever, they finally pick us up, there's lots of hugging + kissing because they're Peruvian after all. And then, to further another Latino stereotype, the five of us, Zoe in her red bag, our four pieces of bloated luggage, our 2 backpacks, we cram into a Volkswagen Rabbit. When people pass us on the highway, you can tell they think we just crossed the border illegally

17. In Chicago, LB + I spend hours repacking our stuff for Europe, renogotiating space, aspiration + comfort. Meanwhile, LB's younger sister keeps reading us these awful notes she'd written in sixth grade about boys she had crushes on: I wanna go all the way, Dear Sophia, remember the future, remember the future, he is so cute, and he has the butt. I don't know what the hell she's telling me to be honest

18. We race to the Chicago Diner, I eat a veggie Philly Steak sandwich. Sophia, after dissing vegetarian foods, tries to steal our chocolate peanut butter smoothie, which is pretty much soy ambrosia. Hands off beatch

19. Then, we drive to O'hare again. We hug + kiss the whole family again. I make sure to give LB's abuela a big smooch on the cheek until her eyebrows fall off. We wave to the other side of LB's family, and get in line at the Air France counter, where an irritating man cuts us off, who later on turns out to be that annoying passenger in every plane who talks really loud about his two daughters living in Paris. As luck would have it, he's sitting across from us. Sometimes, he stands in the aisle, talking to his neighbor, a polite woman that listens to every story of his as he blocks passengers from passing (wine-happy stewardesses, old men with kidney conditions, little, dazed kids).

20. We go through our third security check, this one, much more sane without all of the extra baggage, duel computers (just one) + the pooch we love

21. Our ten-hour flight to Paris has a bit of drama. For one thing, LB + I watch "Revolutionary Road," promising to talk about it in Paris (which we do today on the 12 Subway from Concorde). For another, I decide to order a mimosa, something I never do, and it makes me feel great. For like, five minutes, then I want to sleep and end up just sitting there, contorted. An hour before our arrival, we can hear a woman screaming on the plane. Then LB tells me she's not screaming, but throwing up. Later we realize she's doing both, screaming for her papa + throwing up. Once we land, the airline stewardesses tell us to remain in our seats. EMT arrives on the plane, the woman who was screaming + throwing up is on the ground now while they try to stabilize her. A German passenger complains that she has another flight to catch. We shake our heads. Ten minutes later, we have our bags, but no Euros + I don't know which Metro we need to take to get to our 2-star hotel

22. After changing money, and getting a map, it takes us more than an hour to buy the right RER ticket. There are huge lines at every single ticket dispenser. I buy an intercity RER ticket which doesn't work from Charles de Gaulle. LB + I try anyway, it doesn't work, we consider getting in the largest line of all for poor bastards that only have cash, or that need TGV reservations, but we decide against it. I talk to the man at information, he tells me we have to buy the 8.40 Euro ticket. I get in line, buy two more RER tickets. Of course, because they're expensive, they work like a charm

23. On the RER train, a man asks for change, I watch St. Denis blur by. I assure LB that Paris gets prettier really fast. Only it doesn't, at least not for several more hours

24. At Gare du Nord, we leave, I ask a waiter at a cafe for directions to our hostel. He's never heard of la rue Bruq, but he points us in the right direction. To be safe, I ask a taxi driver, who tells us the wrong directions strangely enough. Then I ask another woman, an Indian tourist. Like the people before her, she's never heard of the street we're looking for, but she tells us how to get to the Montmartre cemetery, which is good enough. So we walk. And walk. And walk. I notice Bollywood posters in the windows + mannequins dolled up in bengles + saris. There are women in hijabs, Morrocan men cracking jokes, Romanian teenagers trying to outcool one another. Then we see shops selling Indian Sweets and Indonesian burqas. We continue walking, stopping to buy a dried-out falafel sandwich from a sweet man who told me I was paying him too much (shit, I was tired). Along the way, we ask people if they know where la rue Burq is. Not a single fucking persona has any idea what we're saying. In fact, they think I'm asking for la rue de burqa, a funny misunderstanding when you're walking through an Arab neighborhood

25. In Montmartre, I go inside a little bookstore and ask the woman if she's heard of Rue Burq. She shakes her head, opens up a city map, and finally says the magic words c'est un plus loin d'ici. If I'd been single, I would have kissed her, just out of desperation + gratitude

26. We finally find our hotel, we walk up four flights of stairs + collapse, taking a two-hour nap that actually ends up being close to seven. We are officially in Paris now, and not a fucking moment too soon, and it's even more beautiful than I remember, and my memory tends to make all things more beautiful than they are

3 comments:

Fernanda Ibañez said...

tiraste el dulce de leche a la mierda por la torre eiffel

te felicito xD

a mi tampoco me apasiona esa "super glue" para tortas

Agustín said...

Tres continentes?

JACKSON BLISS 水と魂 said...

Fernanda,

Sí, se puede usar así, pero cuando le falta pegamento a alguien, fortunadamente, resulta que la dulce de leche puede pegar ladrillos, hojas de papel + autos también. Lo veía a los albañiles hacer eso durante su descanso para el puro placer jeje.

Agustín (aka Karate Kid),

Sí: Suramérica, Norteamérica y Europa. Like duh.