ON HOROSCOPEs, RADIO ANTENNAs, CHOCOLATEs, VISAs, RUINED TRIPODs & ¨VALID TICKETs¨ (to nowhere!!)

Ushuaia Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 19 › view all entries
This was my horoscope for Monday, February 18, 2008: “The day might not go exactly as you would like it to, but that doesn't mean that you've got to throw up your hands and walk off the set. Just adjust a little bit and everything will be fine.” I read this online while waiting at the lobby of Casapueblo for Juanpi. He overslept again!

We had to catch a 930AM flight from Punta del Este to Buenos Aires. It was 745AM and he still hasn’t packed plus we had to return the rental car at the airport. Good thing the airport was just 15 minutes away even if one was “Driving Miss Daisy.” So I wasn’t my usual panicky self and besides the Latin American’s flexible concept of time was very reassuring.
Another shared legacy of our former colonial masters?

The Philippines really is an Asian aberration with things things common with most Latin American than any other country in Asia. We finally checked out at 8AM. We put our luggages in the trunk and as we turned around the bend from the parking lot the radio antennae just fell off. It just fell off! We did not hit anything the whole time we were driving. Something must have happened when we parked it overnight. Great!! Now we have to pay extra to the rental company. Is this an omen of things to come? This could be a very long day. I had no idea what I was in for that fateful day.

We met the rental guy and he assessed an extra US$40.00 for the antennae. Okay, at least it wasn’t a lot more. We checked into the flight and I checked-in my Manfrotto tripod.
I wanted to carry it but was asked that it should be checked in. I did the same thing on the way to Punta del Este and nothing happened so I guess it should be okay. I would find out how wrong I would be when I got to Aeroparque Nacional in Buenos Aires. :-(

The counter-person was also asking if I had a visa to Argentina. I told her, “Yes, I do. I have a multiple entry visa” and pointed her to the visa page which indicated a visa issued on January 31, 2008. She said, “But it indicates January 31, 2008.” Yes, because it was issued on that date. The Argentine embassy in Manila couldn’t have committed my arrival and departure dates into my visa given things can get changed and all. I even told her, it’s the exact same type of visa I used last June 2007. She told me to wait a minute while she confirms.
Twenty minutes pass and she gives me my boarding pass. I was getting a fairly good idea how this day is turning out. Frustration is beginning to show on my face and becoming evident in my voice.

It was about thirty minutes to our flight departure and I went to pass security and had my hand-carried luggage x-rayed. I bought three boxes of Lindt chocolates a few days ago and did not want it squished so I put it inside my hand-carried luggage. The x-ray security guy asked me if I had chocolates in my bag and I said yes. He said, “Sir, you can't bring them on board.” “Why not?” I asked since it’s not liquid and it certainly wasn’t aerosol. None of the signages I read mentioned chocolate. Sir, you can check it in if you want. Sure, like I had time to do that. So, I said, “It’s yours.
” He said, "Are you sure?". I replied, “Yes. Keep it.”

The flight was uneventful and we were in Buenos Aires in 35 minutes. I am not sure if the Argentine immigration official I had was just not used to seeing visa’s issued by their foreign missions abroad or maybe the official who end up reading my visa was new. They were calling in other immigration officials to look at my visa. I was rather flippant at this point and did not even ask what was possibly wrong. After twenty minutes they cleared me and I had my passport on hand again. By this time, I could already see that it was only my tripod left on the luggage conveyor. When I got near, I saw to my horror that one of the leg’s locking pins was separate from the leg. Great! Now, a broken tripod! Could this day get any worse? I might as well have asked a rhetorical question.


My flight wasn’t until 3PM so I headed back to the Kempinski to switch bags and get the rest of my stuff. I changed bags and headed back to the airport at 1PM which gave me more than enough time. Silly me for thinking that way after everything that has happened so far. I headed to the Aerolineas counter to check in and handed my ticket. This was our conversation:
Airline:    “Sir, you don’t have a seat on this flight?”
ME:         "Yes. Don’t I have a valid ticket?”
Airline:    “You do have a valid ticket just not a seat on the flight.”
ME:         “So, basically, you're telling me I have a valid ticket to go nowhere?”
Airline:    Smiling she  said, “Yes.


BRILLIANT!!! I was starting to panic now. My cruise leaves Ushuia on the 20th and now I have to find a way to go there to catch the ship. I specifically set an extra day for exactly this kind of contingency. So now, I had to get on the two remaining flights to Ushuaia for that day. The girl in the counter said she will put me on standby for the 2PM flight to Ushuaia via El Calafate and proceeded to give me a standby boarding pass. She said she can’t put me on wait list for all flights to Ushuaia automatically. I have to wait until after each flight leaves or closes before I can be put on the wait list for the next flight.
I was sure this would not work since it was peak season and I am sure there are more people ahead of me on that wait-list. I did not fly more than a day across two oceans and two continents just to miss my flight to Ushuaia. This was not acceptable.

It was 130PM and I went to the ticketing office and asked for more options. “Is there really no other option?,” I asked the ticketing agent. “Is there anything else you can do?” She said no. I changed my question to, “Are there really no available seats on that flight?” Then she replied, “There’s one seat in business class.” I blurted out, “BOOK IT!” I can not reimburse you for the ticket. I told her never mind. Just book the ticket. I will have the ticket reimbursed when I get back to Singapore. I ended up paying an extra SGD200.
00 (over the cost of the economy ticket) for the business class ticket. I thought it was a small price to pay compared to missing my cruise ship in Ushuaia! After 6 months of planning! I will not be defeated!

It was 145PM and I still had my check-in luggage with me and the flight departs at 2PM. If it was another airline I would have been peeing my pants. :-) I wasn’t fazed at all given this was Argentina and I was on an Aerolineas flight. I’ve flown them several times enough to know their flights never left on time. So it was a mad dash to the boarding gate and I got there at exactly 158PM and as expected I was not the last one to board and we left at 230PM instead. I was so relieved to get to my seat.

There was one benefit to this incident. I got a chance to see the milky blue-green glacial lake and the milky green meandering rivers in El Calafate which was a stark contrast to the barren brown and dark landscape of the land surrounding El Calafate. At least something good came out of it. I couldn’t wait to reach Ushuaia to write an e-mail to my Singaporean travel agent to tell her about my ordeal and to demand satisfaction!
jennjeff1 says:
Ouch!
Posted on: Apr 25, 2008
genetravelling says:
wow. what a start to the trip...
Posted on: Apr 05, 2008
aoisoba says:
oh my...i may not be able to handle this one like what you did...
Posted on: Mar 24, 2008
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Ushuaia
photo by: xander_van_hoof