Throughout our travels, we managed to bank some karma (if karma can be banked). We argued with a bus representative to help some Canadians get their money back. Their bus was canceled and the company refused to refund their money; the girls were clearly distressed. As we listened to their story, I bristled with the injustice and eventually marched on over to the counter and argued their case (in Spanish I might add, a feat within itself!). We performed random acts of kindness like anyone else would in a typical day—providing helpful directions or advice, producing a website for our homestay family in Otavalo, making change for fellow travelers (the always needed, but rarely provided service from merchants). In essence, we racked up some traveling karma.

Racing against the calendar in Argentina, we decided to book a flight from southern Patagonia to Buenos Aires. We couldn’t afford Argentina’s premier airliner, Aerolineas Argentinas, so we booked a flight on LADE—the military operated airline. Tickets on LADE were three times cheaper than Aerolineas—turns out there’s a reason for that. I’d prepared myself that we’d be flying on a turboprop Fokker F27 with two short layovers in El Calafate and Ushuaia. I’m not a fan of flying, but this flight was so much cheaper I figured I could manage. Upon arriving at the airport, however, we further learned that we’d actually have four layovers, which meant six takeoffs and six landings. Oh dear, I thought. What in the world did we get ourselves into. We immediately beelined toward the runway so I could take a look at the airplane. Ok, indeed it was a turboprop. Six landings and takeoffs, eh? Regret for not taking the 36 hour bus overwhelmed me. Chris as usual remained calm and reserved, simply stating “not much we can do about it now”. True, but those words didn’t console me when the turboprop engines started to whirl, shaking the entire plane. Seriously, I thought the screws were going to come loose the plane was shaking so hard. Fellow passengers glanced around with worry; I’m certain my eyes didn’t provide them any solace. Our seats were so tightly packed, there was no chance of getting into a protective crash position yet I couldn’t help but work out our intended escape route anyway.

Thankfully, we arrived safely in El Calafate. On our second takeoff to Rio Grande, quite a few more tourists were on board. As the plane started to shake like we were in the midst of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, their worried faces mirrored mine. I was in countdown mode, after this takeoff only four more left, only four more left. While racing down the runway, we were watching the wheels because on the first flight we weren’t more than a few inches off the ground when the wheels were pulled up. It freaked me out so much the first time; I wanted Chris to see it this time. We were going fast, and I was certain any minute those wheels would be pulled up just mere inches off the ground, when all of a sudden we powered down. Sighting some sort of technical problem, the plane made its way back to the terminal. For the next two hours I debated our options. There was no way I was getting back on that plane to make 5 more takeoffs and landings. Working mentally on my argument line to Chris, I decided to wander around the airport and came across the ticketing window. (Ok, Ok, perhaps I was actually inquiring about available seats on the premier airline… but don’t tell Chris).

Luckily, karma stepped in. Wandering up to the counter to inquire about our flight, the LADE representative informed me our flight was canceled, and he was getting us on the next Aerolineas Argentina flight out to Buenos Aires. Holy cow! Seats on an Aerolineas flight and a direct flight to boot; it was like we won the lottery!!

Unfortunately when karma giveth, she also taketh away. We enjoyed our flight immensely, but upon arrival in Buenos Aires it seems all our good karma vanished. Making our way through the city, our excitement rose as we saw all the nightlife possibilities. Buzzing with activity, people sat at outdoor cafes and bars, strolled along the pedestrian-only streets, and chatted in parks. Looking forward to grabbing a drink, we made our way to our hostel. It’s amazing how quickly a good vibe can turn sour. Arriving at the Hostel Suites Florida, they informed us they canceled our reservation and refused to return our deposit. We pleaded with them to no avail. If there’s something to learn about Argentina, it’s that rules must be followed and acceptions are very rarely made. Our reservation was canceled because we failed to provide the three digit security code for our credit card within an hour of when we made the reservation. Inquiring whether rooms were available the next few nights, the staff informed us that yes rooms existed but they would not credit our deposit to them. And why not??? You guessed it, we didn’t provide the three digit code initially and thus forfeited our deposit forever. We went round and round to no avail. I am not one to expect things to operate as they do in the United States, but admittedly I am still struggling with the logic behind this one; it’s just bad business….

Defeated, we hit the Buenos Aires streets at midnight in search of other lodging. Eventually finding ourselves a happy respite in Hostel-Inn Buenos Aires, we thought our luck might be improving until we returned one afternoon to find a small leak in our room. Informing the staff, they said someone was taking care of it. Ok, we thought and headed out into the night for my birthday celebration. Returning home significantly later, we found water covering the floor and bed. Looking up, water lines snaked their way across the ceiling as drips of water splattered the floor. Again, we went downstairs to inform the staff and again they told us they were aware of the problem. This time, however, I insisted a staff member come upstairs and look at our room. Visibly shocked, the staff member rushed to get mops and buckets. In total, we placed seven buckets around the room. By morning, the buckets were half full of water and the ceiling wasn’t letting up with its deluge. At breakfast, I informed the morning staff member of the problem and inquired whether a plumber was coming. Oh yep, we know about the problem she responded. The “plumber” (just another staff member) set about working on the problem mid-morning, but it wasn’t until I grabbed him and dragged him to our room that he knew the full extent. Apparently, no one bothered to tell him the ceiling was leaking too!

Despite our shaky start, our luck eventually improved in Buenos Aires, and we spent six wonderful days exploring the city. We will post on our experiences soon.

2 Responses to “Karma giveth, and taketh away”

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Well, with a Fokker jet, I guess that had disaster written all over it?! Sorry to hear about your bad experience. We´re just starting to get into the WTF?! that makes SA such a fun place to travel :) Have fun in Seattle!

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