Homeward Bound . . . January 24-25, 2010
Our flight did not leave Mendoza until late in the afternoon so we had time to kill in the morning. My stomach was still tied in a knot but we were determined to accomplish something before leaving town. But, before anything, G and Bob needed a breakfast to fuel the fires.
Our next task was to get the gear packed in the six duffels and ready to leave in the storage room by the front desk after we checked out. I've groused about the Cordon del Plata but I do want to note that the front desk help was always friendly and very helpful and they cut us some slack on the check out time when we asked. Nice folks and we all know that the front end help has little control over whether the uppermost floor has water at any given time of the day.
We were out of the hotel and McDonald's bound where the light Argentine breakfast was pushed back, not very far mind you, but far enough to get a slab of sausage and egg on a bagel for the food giant. From McD's we were off to the local supermarket to buy food souvenirs, mostly my doing in this case. I buy not for me but for a colleague who likes to sample the chocolates of the world and I do my best to accommodate him. The comestible souvenirs went back to the hotel and we packed the last few items before lugging all too much weight to the first floor.
With the bags in storage we returned to the main shopping area to cover the spousal gift obligation. Bob and G have kids and there is the need to bring something back for all but I've only a wife and neither of us need more stuff in an already stuff oriented home whose decor is a cross between "I made that" and "dorm room". I ended up with a mate cup and a bombilla to sip mate through in some future mountain camp. From there we found a sandwich joint with sidewalk seating and a menu offering lomo specials. That was what we all wanted at this point so we sat down and enjoyed lunch.
We arranged with Felipe for a ride to the airport and he was there right on time with a smile. You gotta get somewhere with a load of gear, this is the guy. We loaded the gear in the minivan and were off to the airport, about three hours before the flight but the terminal has air conditioning and I hate being at the back of the long line of folks checking luggage. We ended up killing an hour before the Lan Chile counter opened up and we were through just like that. From there it was through security, past the outbound immigration check point and into the waiting area. Lan boarded on time and soon enough we were taking off for our flight back over the Andes to Santiago.
The views outbound were mostly of clouds, negating the sweet talking job we did at the counter to assure right side window seating for the flight. We did catch a glimpse of mountains here and there before we landed 40 minutes later in Santiago. Now we had a three hour layover before our American flight left for Dallas. We walked the terminal and I purchased a book on Argentine grilling techniques, a skill that I now consider a vital adjunct to the gas grill but more importantly to the fire pit I constructed in my back yard last summer. Clearly, I have no kids as I have no qualms about piling two cords of wood in the back yard and sitting by a summertime suburban camp fire.
We ate a light dinner at a sandwich joint in the airport and eventually boarded our flight to Dallas, an overnight nine hour hop. We were off on time and with the aid of a half tab of Ambien, I slept for the next six hours, which made the length of the flight much more tolerable. Another layover in Dallas, with breakfast for the food giants, and we were off to Denver and the ride to Cheyenne, to winter, and back to work.