I’m in BA, Trick.

Saturday night I was back in the hostel by 2:30 AM. I walked fifteen or so blocks back to Alves Guimares from a party in Vila Madalena, which given everything that’s said about the safety (or lack there of) of Sao Paulo, probably lands this particular action amongst the most irresponsible decisions I’ve made in my adult life, although I had atleast enough sense to stuff my id and debit card in my shoe and wad up some two real bills as booty should some entrepreneurial individual decide to run up on me with a grenade (as happened to others in Rio a few weeks ago). As I’m now writing this from the comfort of my newly acquired (this morning) studio apartment on Ave Corrientes in downtown Buenos Aires, I assure you I made it out of Sao Paulo just fine.

With the fear of detention at customs looming over my head, I left for Sao Paulo International Airport quite early to be sure I’d not get held up to the point of missing my flight (see aforementioned entry card issue). Originally my plan was to walk to the subway, take two trains to the bus station, and finally take the airport bus from the station to the airport. In light of it being 31 degrees C with 90 percent humidity at 10:30 in the morning, I decided to take a cab to the subway in lieu of walking up the hill with my life strapped to my back. The cab driver was cool and very interested in talking to me, so he offered the ride to the airport for 50 real, which given my lack of sleep, food, and ambition to walk, I had to accept. Going rate for a ride from Pinheiros to GRU is over 100 real, so whatever.

The ticket counter at Pluna didn’t open until noon, which left me sitting around GRU terminal 2 section C with my bag, wondering why it is that an airport in a supposedly “developing” country is so much cleaner, more efficient, and generally attractive and inviting (both staff and patrons) than any I’ve ever had the indignity of calling my home airport (ORD, MDW, LAX, SNA).

The ticketing process went smoothly, as did the dreaded encounter with Brazilian exit customs. I received a goofy smile and an exit stamp, and made my way to duty free to debate buying a bottle of cachaca, which I did not. I did however, indulge in a chicken empanada and a Coca Cola while wondering what would motivate anyone to buy a pair of designer sunglasses at a duty free shop at the airport.

The flight to Montevideo was smooth and furnished with plentiful ham and cheese sandwiches and orange juice. The decent was a bit rough as it was raining in MVD, but the pilot handled it well (I’m alive) and the most of the passengers applauded our arrival.

This favela comes all the way up to the runway at Sao Paulo International.

Take off…

Sao Paulo is ridiculous from above.

This is the Uruguayan Pampas, north of Montevideo as we approach MVD airport. This is where the best steak in the world grows.

Green farmland outside MVD airport. The approach to the airport was nothing but dirt roads, little houses, and big farms. When it seemed we were ten feet off the ground, the runway finally came into view.

Pluna stops their flights in the middle of the taxiway and the passengers disembark the plane by moving stairway, at which time they board a bus and drive 100 meters to the terminal. Inside the terminal we were separated into groups according to whether we were traveling on to Buenos Aires or Santiago. Much to my surprise we filled out Argentine immigration papers and were stamped into Argentina by a girl at the gate at the airport in Uruguay. Who knew.

The flight to BA from MVD is 35 minutes. The plane doesn’t have time to reach cruising altitude and there is no drink service. It’s a three hour/ thirty dollar boat ride, and much as if I’d flown from Chicago to St. Louis, I feel like less of a person for having flown it. Nonetheless, I’ve now been in Uruguay- for thirty minutes. I shall return via boat in a few weeks, as I will soon require some beach time and some frivolous gambling in Punta del Este.

Taking off from MVD, Montevideo is at the point.

We landed at Aeroparque, the downtown airport for domestic flights (and Uruguay). Coming in at night was quite spectacular, and I imagine that flying into the now defunct Meggs Field (sorry, “Northerly Island”) would have been quite similar. Bags were unloaded on the tarmac, avoiding the usual headache of baggage claim. A quick change of 10 euros and 20 US dollars into local currency (at a rate so poor it could only happen in an airport) and I have enough pesos for a radio cab to the hostel, payment of the hostel, dinner, and a few drinks at the hostel bar.

As I knew I’d be arriving late on a Sunday evening, I booked the hostel in Sao Paulo the night before, knowing I wouldn’t be able to move into the apartment until Monday morning. The hostel was booked solely on location, as it is a mere three blocks from my apartment, allowing me to wake up twenty minutes before my appointment and stumble down the block, which is exactly what I did. I had expected to have an early night on Sunday, but met some kids from Chicago, as well as some locals and a guy from England down in the hostel bar while checking my email. It turned into a later night rather quickly.

The formalities involving the exchange of dollars, signatures, and keys went well, and I now have a tiny studio apartment on the tenth floor of a downtown Buenos Aires midrise to myself for the month. Today was spent locating a voltage converter, grocery shopping, unpacking, wandering around downtown getting my bearings, eating sandwiches in the park, and watching MTVla.

I ate a sandwich and drank two juice boxes here.

Snapped this on my walk home from the supermarket. I live a block to the right of the Oblesico (the thing that looks like that thing you saw in DC in eight grade).

Tomorrow I must find a laundromat!

This entry was written by brett, posted on March 2, 2009 at 9:34 pm, filed under Buenos Aires, Travel. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.



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