Sunday, April 23, 2006

!Suerte!

“Suerte”

“Suerte”

Suerte is a very important and oft-used word in Argentina. It virtually defined our trip to Buenos Aires and Uruguay two weeks ago….

First, our flight from Mendoza to BA was canceled, so we were scheduled on an earlier flight. We arrived at the airport to discover that our new flight was delayed too --- “suerte,” said our friend Julian who dropped us off….

When we got to BA, the cab driver who was waiting to pick us up – and had been waiting for over an hour (meter running, by the way) – grumpily showed us to the cab and we began driving to the apartment we rented for the weekend…When we arrived at the “address” of the apt – or rather at the addresses on either side of where the apartment should have been, our cab driver said, “direction no existe!” We parked, got out, began scouring either side of the street, and frantically trying to call of the number of the apartment management firm… soon, a whole group of people were gathered round us, trying to help us find the address (and, reminding Janalee that it is not safe to leave your bag sitting on the side of the street). We located someone who spoke English, and he translated.

New BA friend, “He (the cab driver) says the address doesn’t exist.”

Jan, “We KNOW that. We’re trying to figure out what to do…”

New friend, “The cab driver says that you should call the company that rented you the apartment.”

Jan, “We HAVE called them… no one is answering the phone. Do you have any recommendations for a hotel?”

New friend, “I’m not from around here, sorry. She (helpful neighbor who was attracted by the excitement of the frantic search for the non-existent address) says that there is a Hilton just a few blocks from here.”

Jan, “OK, let’s get back in the cab and have him take us to the Hilton.”

Everyone, “!Suerte!”

We climb back in the cab, and begin what we think is the journey to the hotel, and next I find myself talking with the dispatcher, who speaks English.

Dispatcher, “The cab driver asks where you would like him to take you….”

Jan, “To the Hilton”

Dispatcher, “Give us the address and he will take you there.”

Jan, “I THOUGHT he knew where the Hilton is… I don’t know where it is.”

At this point, frustration is mounting. It’s Friday night, we have no place to stay, we’re tired, we’re hungry (there was no snack on the plane because we flew through a horrible thunder storm. Everyone on the plane was saying “SUERTE” and crossing themselves… When the plane landed safely in BA, we all applauded), and we want to give up and go home….

So, we slow down to look at our guidebook and find a new place to stay. At that very moment, someone leaps out at us from the curb…

Rolf (the owner of the apartment management firm), “Where have you been?”

Vince, “What? Are you Rolf?”

Rolf, “Yes, where have you BEEN?”

Vince, Jan and Mia, “YOU SENT US TO THE WRONG ADDRESS!!!!” (It turns out that the number was right, but the street was wrong… because we turned the corner and happened to slow down at just the right moment (SUERTE!!!!!!), we happened to find Rolf.

Rolf (who is German, has lived in Australia for the past 10 years, and whose Spanish is very thickly accented) then apologized profusely and paid the cab driver, whose fare has now escalated to over 100 pesos!

The cab driver happily drove away, shouting “SUERTE!…”

The rest of the trip was pretty calm after all that. On Saturday, we took a hydrofoil to Uruguay and spent the day in a lovely town called Colonia (see photos)… On Sunday, we wandered around the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires, and walked up and down the Recoleta cemetery (same photos), from my perspective, one of the most amazing cemeteries in the world.

We made is home safely late Sunday night. When the cab driver dropped us off in Mendoza, you could here a faint, “suerte” as he drove away.

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