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(continued from previous)...The immigration line is long but moves quickly. I remember that I need to buy a bottle of water for the flight, since I get really dehydrated and like to have a lot of water on hand. Strangely, bottles of water are nowhere to be found in the kiosks near the gate. There's a bar at the end of the gate area that I am directed to, so I go there. They are selling 500mL bottles for 5 pesos, which is definitely a ripoff (I paid 2 pesos for a 1.5L bottle earlier that day), but I know I need it so I buy two. Airport prices are always inflated, I suppose.

At this point, the last thing I need to do is change my pesos back to dollars. In my experience it is always better to do this before you leave because they'll take even the coins. Usually once you leave the country, you are stuck with the smaller currency. Anyway, the line at the currency exchange is going incredibly slowly, and the currency exchange agent is threatening to close down for a break. The folks waiting in line are about to revolt because we are all about to miss our flights but want to get this taken care of if at all possible. At this point, my flight is about 20 minutes from leaving, and I'm stuck in this line. I was really worried I'd miss the flight, but I finally made it to the front of the line and changed my money. Phew!

The gate area is pretty empty by this time, but they are checking folks' carry on luggage by hand, and some folks are still waiting for that. I walk up to a screener, and he says I can't take the water bottles I just bought on the plane! This was different than the policy I'm used to. Usually you can't bring outside water through security, but are allowed to buy water after the security checkpoint to bring on the plane. Argh! I was sad. Not only did I overpay for the bottles of water, the lack of convenient water is going to make this flight miserable for me. Oh well. Somewhat defiantly, I stood there and drank the two bottles because I knew I was already dehydrated from all the running around at the airport. They looked at me like I was crazy for standing there and drinking 1L of water in one go, but I'm both perpetually thirsty and a cheapskate, so there you go. I joked to them: "tengo mucho sed" (I'm very thirsty). I think I was the last person to board the plane, and I was definitely a bit of a stress case about the timing of it all until I finally got to sit down in my chair.

I sat next to a very friendly Argentinian woman who now lives in Switzerland. She was very nice, and we chatted a bit through dinner. The plane was a 777, and it was more comfortable and spacious than the DFW to EZE flight. I think I even slept a bit, which is a amazing since I usually cannot. We arrived in Miami on time, and my connection to SFO was also on time.

It's pretty disorienting to be home. It was a great trip, and I'd love to go back sometime. I'd highly recommend Buenos Aires to anyone. It was both a beautiful city and a deep city. I found the people to be very vibrant. They had a ton of personality and were a pleasure to get to know. They had a wonderful sense of humor and warmth.

While I was taking photos, I realized how little of the real experience I was able to capture. Part of me feels like I do a bit of a disservice in publishing this album because I don't know that it represents the things I truly loved about the town. But c'est la vie. This was also the first trip where I had traveled with a digital camera where I really tried to document the trip. I found Beatrice had a real knack for it, and I floundered a bit. I often felt uncomfortable whipping out the camera because I didn't want to appear as a tourist. Or, if I did take a picture, I tried to be quick about it and not focus on framing the image well but rather on taking the picture quickly.

In Buenos Aires, I struggled at first to find interesting, non-touristy things to do. Tourism is a big industry there, and things like expensive tango shows are created for the tourists. I never found anything like a Time Out New York for comprehensive event listings in Buenos Aires, which made it hard to find cool stuff to do initially. There are also some scattered web resources that were helpful, though I lamented that I couldn't find a more comprehensive website for this purpose. But as I talked to more locals and got more of a sense of the territory, I felt like I was able to avoid the touristy stuff for the most part and find interesting things like the open studios and the silent film to attend, and I don't think many tourists were there. When I travel, I like to hang out where the locals go as much as possible because that's how I get to know what it is like to live in a place versus just visiting it.

Anyway, if you are going to Buenos Aires and have questions, feel free to get in touch.

Sarah Gordon, sarahatfingeronthepulsedotorg

DATE: 12/02/2006
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