Stranded in El Calafate, Argentina: Day Two

30 01 2012

We’re supposed to be leaving on a mid-day flight to Ushuaia. We’re told to gather about 11:00 in the hotel for our flight out. When we gather, the concierge announces some news in Spanish…I cannot understand, but the crowd gathered in the lobby is not looking happy…and then Saskia darts out the hotel door…headed for downtown!

The concierge, speaking in English, tells us the airline is completely shut down today! The strike is continuing and we are not going anywhere today. He says that it is possible the President of Argentina may intervene – might order the Army to take over the airline. There will be an authentic Argentine barbeque tonight at the hotel. That sounds interesting to me, especially since it’s free!

Rumors are that it is spreading beyond the airlines. A general work stoppage for higher benefits. Saskia was headed downtown because that is where the airline offices are. She returns and gives us news. She demanded assurances we will really get on the next flights out. But we do not really know, we are pawns in the greater political game right now!

Some decide to head downtown for dinner, but Elwyn and I try for the complimentary meal. We see the staff firing up the barbeques, getting the wood and charcoal going. We share a bottle of wine to pass the time. But then the concierge announces that dinner will not start until past 9:00 p.m.! It seems they have it timed for some other group arriving. We cannot stand it! We need to eat right away! We cancel our dinner and walk downtown to a pizzeria, which is pretty busy.

Our table is right by a flat screen TV showing a soccer game. It’s Chile vs Paraguay, and this couple at the table nearest us are intensely interested. When Chile scores, they are all excited but try to conceal their delight. Elwyn asks them a couple of questions, and it turns out they are from Chile. They look Argentinian (look European) but they do NOT want the Argentinians to know they come from Chile! Too funny. The girl is super nice.

This night was a complete wash. We stumbled down the avenue to a bar we’d seen the day before and went upstairs, and what do you know? We found others in our group – Patricia, Eray, Angelique, Yap, and more. More drinks…and before long I felt “tanked” up, I could not have any more! All of us just want to get to Ushuaia…it’s difficult. We’re trying to make the most of it!

We’ll just have to see what happens in the morning…!


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