Well, here I am in Buenos Aires. Maria and I left New York last night at 6:15. Our ten-hour flight to Rio de Janeiro was smooth and rather uneventful: a little turbulence, a nice selection of movies, and an elderly Brazilian man singing to himself in Portuguese in the seat next to me. Once we got to Rio, though, things got a little complicated. We didn't have visas to get into Brazil-- we never intended to enter Brazil; we just needed to catch our connecting flight to Buenos Aires. But because of a lack of inter-airline communication, we were not able to get our boarding passes for the second flight before we got to Brazil. That meant, of course, that we had to be escorted on a bus through the labyrinthine underworld of the airport and led to an important-looking airline employee who took our passports and went to obtain our boarding passes for us. Once we boarded the flight, though, it, too, was uneventful. There was more legroom, though.
Finally, we arrived at Aeroparque Jorge Newbery in Buenos Aires. We got off the flight like presidents: rather than a gate attached to the plane, there was simply a staircase, allowing for a visually dramatic de-planing. We then piled onto a bus that took us to the international arrivals area. We stood in line, paid the tasa de reciprocidad (tax) required of U.S., Canadian, and Australian citizens, and got our passports stamped. Then came the fun part. We got to baggage claim and each of us found only one of our two suitcases. We stumbled through customs, too dazed and exhausted to be able to speak coherent Spanish. This unfortunate state continued when we had to find our way to the airline's office and the baggage complaint counter, all the while dragging along the kindly old man from the university who came to retrieve us from the airport. Finally we finalized our baggage claims and left the airport. That kindly old man, it turns out, didn't know exactly where he had to take us and struggled to find our residence, but eventually we figured it out.
We've already met some really nice, friendly people who are willing to bear with us as we speak nervous, broken Spanglish and try to communicate with them. Already I'm feeling more confident in my language skills, so I know it's going to be a fairly easy adjustment. I've just got to focus on letting go, not worrying so much about grammatical proficiency and thinking instead of getting my message across. Maria's roommate has so far been the most friendly and helpful. She helped us figure out how to get to the part of the university that we need to get to tomorrow for our orientation, and then she took us to the cell phone store. Unfortunately, it was already closed, but we'll go back again in the next few days. Despite all this whirlwind movement and action, there was actually a lot of unstructured downtime today. Maria and I wandered around the dorm, then walked around the block outside, watched a movie and dozed, and now she's coming over and I think we'll watch another movie before we go to sleep. It's only 9:13 p.m. here, but it feels like it's about midnight. Tomorrow will bring still more adventure.