I mentioned this before the trip, but now that I have experienced it, I have to say a 24+ hour journey by air is exactly as exhausting as it sounds.
It didn’t even have to be that long. When we booked the flights, Mélissa and I thought it would be fun to have an extended layover in NYC. We could drink martinis and visit the MoMA!
Great idea! Let’s do something fun while thinking about nothing else but how badly we want to get home!
Our Patagonia trip concluded with one more night in El Calafate, which was where our first flight home was to depart. If El Chalten had an airport, I would imagine it to be a camper trailer with fighter pilot Snoopy spray painted on the exterior.
The planes would also be made of wood. They really liked their wood sculptures in El Chalten.
The town was having their best weather of the year the day we left (photo on the right). I envied those who got to hike Laguna de los Tres that day.
Why the toque, then? I had done three big hikes with only a camper trailer bathroom to shower in. My hair was cemented to my scalp, and I reeked of an old sponge. My hygiene took a hit that week and was mostly maintained with baby wipes, although El Chalten is the last place anybody needs to feel bashful about smelling like wildlife. That said, I would absolutely stay in a camper trailer again.
Anyway, El Calafate’s airport has the most beautiful view of any airport I’ve seen. Our plane took off from a runway parallel to the brilliantly turquoise Lago Argentino! I didn’t take a snapshot from the plane, though I should have. Instead, here is a snip of the low-resolution Google satellite view.
The largest store in the airport was a Russian chocolate shop. Rather, it was an Argentinean chocolate shop with a Russian name. Because the first country that pops up in anybody’s mind when they think of chocolate is Russia?
You could buy chocolates molded into what could be best described as Soviet-era cameras and cell phones. Because chocolate looks the most appetizing in the form of handheld electronic devices?
I enjoyed browsing this chocolate shop way more than Mélissa did even though I accidentally sampled dulce de leche flavoured chocolate truffles. As I learned over the trip, dulce de leche is sort of gross. Admitting you don’t like dulce de leche is enough to get you thrown into prison in Argentina, so I just smiled and nodded at the chocolate shop lady.
I was ready to leave Argentina. First, we had a layover in Cordoba, a city 700km northwest of Buenos Aires. This meant we flew an extra 400km past Bueno Aires for no reason other than that there were no direct flights to there that morning. Buenos Aires was our second of three layovers. 11-hours later, we were in NYC. Mélissa and I watched the Manhattan skyline pass by with apathy as we were transported from JFK airport to La Guardia.
The next time anybody asks me if I’ve ever been to NYC, I’ll answer, “Kind of.”
“How was it?”
Mélissa and I tried asking for an earlier flight, but poor weather conditions across the country meant 30+ people were already waiting on standby. I snoozed on the floor at La Guardia: no blanket, an inflatable pillow, and an international audience.
I’d never been more excited about returning home. Montréal was only going to be my home for two more months, but hanging out in bed with Yann and the cats was what I was missing the most.
Pre-Patagonia, I knew this trip was going to be expensive: I took a total of 8 flights for the low, low price of $1,824.99. Transportation was by far the biggest expense, but everything else was comparable with or cheaper than in Canada.
Except for postage stamps! It was $6 CAD to write “Hi, here’s a picture of where I went that you could’ve just Googled for free.” to your grandma.
Food was affordable. A medium pizza was $200.
That’s under $7 CAD ($5 USD). Mélissa, who is well-acquainted with South America, said the meals were expensive for the continent. Gratuity in Argentina is only 10% which made me feel like a terrible tipper.
If you can afford $200 pizzas and endure multiple flights, Patagonia has the highest percentage of cute wildlife than anywhere else in the world*.
You will see a lot of ice. You will eat a lot of dulce de leche, whether on purpose or not. You will learn that “salad” means chopped iceberg lettuce and mealy tomatoes. You will notice that there’s a weird amount of Welsh people. You will be reminded that Lionel Messi is Argentinean daily.
You’re going to have lots of fun.