Today, as with every day, begins the trip of a lifetime.
What the hell am I supposed to write about? I suppose my "audience" is comprised of friends and family checking in to make sure we haven't yet been killed, arrested, or birthed a small-headed baby courtesy of Zika. So I'll start with an explanation of our journey thus far. I'm beginning this entry with my four-hour delayed flight at O'Hare International (it's cool...we had a 7-hour layover in Miami) and I imagine I'll wrap it up sometime in the next couple days in Buenos Aires.
We have been packing for days, double-checking our packing list, organizing, reorganizing, etc. For the record - Patagonia's "Black Hole Duffel" bags are outstanding. I'm sure you'll see them in the photos to come, as we're going to be living out of them for the next two months abroad. Anyway - we left at 2pm for Chicago. Shout out to my cousin, Eric, for letting us crash with him last night and a sincere thank you for waking up at 4am to bring us to the airport. You're an all-star, cuz. Eric brought us out for a bite to eat last night. I really wanted to make my last sit-down meal in North America truly an american experience. Eric delivered. I had Mac-n-Cheese with bacon and a beer..followed by a long walk to Stan's Doughnuts. I'll miss you, 'murricuh. Something tells me I won't starve to death in Buenos Aires with the readily-available glut of alfajores, choripan, and café con leche - not to mention the steak and Malbec.
Security wasn't nearly as bad as we anticipated this morning - likely related to the fact that we arrived to security at 4:40am. On a Tuesday. But better safe than sorry, we figure. From here, we fly to Miami for a 4-hour layover, then to São Paolo, Brazil for a short layover, and finally to Buenos Aires. Our friend, Jess Brandt, has been kind enough to put us in touch with his friend, Claude, in BA. Claude recommended the best barrio (borough/neighborhood) to stay in for the few day's we'll be in BA - Palermo SoHo. Named for it's similarity to NYC's SoHo neighborhood, Palermo SoHo is described by our favorite blog about BA (Gringo in Buenos Aires) as:
"This vibrant area of the bohemian sub-barrio Palermo SoHo sits between the streets Santa Fé, Coronel Diaz, Córdoba and Juan B. Justo. This is one of the trendier parts of Palermo (along with Palermo Hollywood) and a favorite haunt of backpackers, hipsters and designers. It is home to lazy, tree-lined cobblestone streets where new businesses continue to spring up in the old Spanish-style houses and converted warehouses."
Yeah. We're onboard for all of that. We've reserved an apartment on Air BnB and look forward to connecting with Claude to get a better grasp on this massive, vibrant city. The weather should stick to the mid- to upper-50s in BA. We will hang out in the city for three days and hop on a bus to El Bolsón on the weekend. Cathy, our main contact in South America, lives in El Bolsón with her kids Noah, Stella, and Ava. I coached Ava and Stella years ago when they lived in Grand Rapids. Cathy now lives in Patagonia and is an editor for Matador Network. This gives her the opportunity to live abroad, work remotely, and travel widely. Cathy is badass and aside from my profound pride in her as a woman, a person, and a mother, Jill and I are exceedingly grateful for her hospitality and willingness to help us on our little adventures. I am so freaking excited to spend some time with Ava, Stella, and Noah. They have always been some of the coolest kids I've been lucky enough to know, but after years living in Patagonia, I imagine that quality has continued to grow. We're armed with exactly 48 pounds of books for them to help get them through another Patagonia winter. That was literally their only request.
That's all or now. I don't want to spend too much time in front of my screen. In a few days we're getting on a bus and I'll be sitting there for literally 20 hours. That should give me plenty of time to write a thorough entry with all the details from our time in BA. We love you all and look forward to hearing from you! Comment below!
Due to heavy fog in São Paulo, Brazil, our flight was rerouted to Rio de Janeiro. We were initially told we'd hold there and take off again in an hour, but after a couple hours circling the airport and eventually sitting on the runway, we were told to go inside to get another flight directly to BA soon. Soon is a relative term in South America. We waited over an hour for our luggage, then got in line to get a new ticket for our flight to BA. We waited in line two hours, which typically would have been frustrating, but we made some good friends - specifically Milos Nasio, a fashion photographer from Buenos Aires who has been traveling around the world for the last few months working. My kind of people. Milos helped us work through some of the issues with the airline employees to be sure we were getting the best possible treatment. He's exceptionally good at this, because we were put up in a hotel for the remainder of the day (a hotel in the airport), with an included meal, and rather than a ticket voucher, he assured we were given new boarding passes so we wouldn't have to deal with any more negotiating. We ate lunch with him and had some really great discussions about culture, politics, lifestyle and photography.
Although Milos is a standout when it comes to helpful strangers, Jill and I have been blown away by the unbridled kindness of strangers along our trip. Before we met Milos, there was a woman with her two teenage daughters, none of whom spoke much english, who realized Jill and I were at the moment confused about what was going on and where to go - they simply smiled at us and waved us along to follow them. They waited for us at customs, led us to the luggage carousel, and were like cairns along our route - when we saw them, we knew we were on the right path. Even now, at the cafe in Buenos Aires, a gentlemen by the name of Richard offered up a seat (in english) and gave us recommendations on exchanging money, the best place to get barbecue in town, and how to go about getting a sim card for my iPhone; entirely unsolicited. Jillian and I are humbled by the kindness of strangers thus far.
After it took us 43 hours to get to BA, Jill and I passed out in our beautiful studio apartment on the 8th floor overlooking the city. Once I'm done typing this entry, we'll head to Oui Oui, suggested on several of our favorite websites and blogs for its brunch. More to come soon! Leave us some comments/love, please!!!