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A Sudden Change of Plans

Posted by on July 16, 2010

We have a map of the bottom half of South America – Argentina, and the bits around it. It’s huge – several feet long and double sided. We poured over that last night, and since Blair’s definitely got Bolivia and Peru on the plan, we figured we could change the original back-to-Santiago and up north plan for one where we went up the east side, through Bolivia to Peru, and then Amal and I can continue on up and around, back down, in a rough figure-of-eight pattern. It made sense, it was solid, it just meant many long, long bus trips.

We started today packing, paying, and heading into town to talk to the Aerolineas Argentina office about their South American Pass and Argentina Travel deal. Essentially you can pick a number of flights in the area, and get them really cheaply as a ‘bulk purchase’. But the combinations are mindnumbing, and you often have to pass back through Buenos Aires, which of course constitutes a flight, AND you have to specify every date of travel at the start – a near impossibility at this stage. However if you can stick to something like that it’s a great deal.

So in the agent’s office we had the giant map out, and print-outs from the travel agent, and a queue forming behind us, and we decided that for not much more than the buses, we could actually specify some flights. We could fly to Buenos Aires, and then perhaps up to Asuncion, Paraguay and bus across to Bolivia, or fly to Buenos Aires and get to Salta, before bussing across into Chile and the desert, and enter in that way. We got a price check on that and found that for the two flights, it was actually slightly more expensive (and still not bad) than a three-voucher Argentinian Travel deal. We could easily specify dates for those two flights, and then Amal and I could book another flight – if we don’t manage to make it it doesn’t matter – it saved us money.

Then we worked out that for not much more we could actually do an add-on and go to Puerto Iguazú and back to Buenos Aires before heading to Salta. So after figuring out more dates and double-checking, we booked ourselves a 4-voucher pass, set the dates, and handed the information to the bemused travel agent, whose English was thankfully better than my Spanish. We shifted a couple of dates due to flight times, and locked it in, paid, and got our tickets, our flight leaving for Buenos Aires at 12.40pm. It was currently 11.30am. Run!

The travel agent phoned the airport ahead of us, and by the time we’d filled up the car and started to the airport – 20 kilometres away, we had an hour before takeoff. We got there, dashed in, checked in our bags, paid departure tax, ran back into the carpark to find the keys Blair had accidentally dropped on the ground, and ran back in, returned that to Hertz, apologizing because we were meant to return it in town, and rushed through security, surprising a South African woman we’d seen in the morning at the hostel who had thought we would be on a bus by then.

So I write this from Aerolineas Flight 1693, high above Argentina, where it’s just occurred to us that none of us actually know if Iguazú Falls is anywhere near Puerto Iguazú; we’d just assumed. Port could quite easily be on the ocean, rather than inland where the falls are. Random, last minute planning – the best type! Let’s see what happens.

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