Slowly, I rose to my feet and let the blood flow south to my Nikes before stretching, grabbing my maletas and exiting the plane.
I followed the yellow line for transit passengers to a second security gate, which I could have easily passed through un-detected, except for the armed Argentinian ordering me to do things in Spanish, which from TSA muscle memory led me to believe I needed to remove my shoes, belt, glasses and jacket, and prepare to be touched in my bathing-suit area.
Thankfully, EZE security is AOK with foregoing touching me down there.
Time to find my next flight. The televisions displaying departures indicated gate B; however, every other gate on the same screen was a number. Confused, I am. Also, quite parched.
In as few words as possible (i.e. only one), I asked for water from the nearby vendor. Drank the entire bottle at once and went on the hunt for gate B.
I tried to find it on my own for close to thirty minutes. Slightly panicked, I was.
Three failed attempts at trying to get directions from Spanish-speaking airport staff later, I arrived at gate B. Forty-five minutes until departure. I needed to check-in and get my boarding pass.
Unfortunately, in order to do this I had to travel down the hall to a different desk.
I called Meli to check-in and let her know my flight was on-time, (so far).
Five minutes before departure, the English-speaking angel said, “I fixed it. Come with me. Hurry.”
Somehow my ticket got “exchanged” and I almost got stuck in Argentina due to the combined efforts of Travelocity and American Express, (a little credit goes to the spotty cellphone coverage in EZE).[F-word] you very much. (Directed at the first two.)
Boarded the plane and immediately checked-off “witness foreign woman breast feeding her child in seat 4B” on my traveling abroad bingo card.
The flight was very smooth…in fact, I fell asleep, mouth wide-open, twice. Woke up once to tell Penolope Cruz’s doppelgänger (one of the flight attendants), “no thank you” when she offered me a beverage…and her hand in marriage.
Smooth…right until we were above Asuncion. Each nube we went through, caused by precipitation, caused some precipitation in my shorts.
The guy to my left (in the window seat) made a couple more crosses from head-to-neck & shoulder-to-shoulder before we looked at each other and exchanged an “oh shit” in the only language we both speak – facial expressions.
Upon landing, I stood up to realize the gentleman in front of me smelled a little more nervous about the landing than I did. This was just before I began getting shoved from the plane by a five-foot tall woman who was resolute in not caring about the reason I was moving slowly in the first place.
The woman in front of me was blind.
I made it through customs hassle-free and out into the waiting area where almost immediately I was greeted by Jorge & Meli. Two hellos paired with hugs later, I walked outside into 90-degree heat and experienced a brief tour of the city on my way to their casa.
En route, I was informed that Olivia, their three-year-old daughter, was extremely proud to be lending me her bedroom, which is exactly what you would think a three-year-old girl’s room looks like. Pink.
After a quick tour of the house, I changed into my bathing suit, used the restroom and then the three of us took a five-minute car ride to Meli’s parent’s house. Meli and I by vehicle, Jorge by way of his new toy.
We were greeted with hugs and kisses. I met their cousin, grandmother and uncle, and was able to tell Olivia thank you for the room, to which she simply offered me a Barbie to play with.
It’s interesting when a language barrier exists between me and such a small human. I had to keep asking other bi-linguals what Oli was saying to me, which included her plan to have a pajama party with me that evening.
Olivia had trouble saying “Ross,” so she had asked Meli how to say it in Spanish. Which, is still just “Ross.” However, she couldn’t quite get the “R” sound of her tongue, so she just called me “arroz,” which means “rice” in Spanish. Remembering that her “R” sound was soft, so “arroz” sounded more like “eye-yos.”
The family was enjoying the weather with the barbecue and poolside margaritas.
It was nice knowing I wasn’t the only one there who couldn’t speak Spanish. Tad, Baba’s husband, also doesn’t know a lick of it, or Portuguese, which their family speaks amongst themselves.
Sat for quite some time with a blank look on my face as the locals conversed, intermittently interrupted with a “what do you think, Rrross?”
To which, I would agree.
Left casa Perrella with Meli around 5 and within moments, Olivia was asleep in the backseat – a trend that would continue to amaze me over the next eight days, especially when you factor in how rough the ride home is. (I have video…stay tuned.)
Got back to Meli & Jorge’s house in time to watch the end of the Bears/Jets game. Somewhat inspiring, because this hinted at us being able to watch the KSU bowl game.
After a little American football, Meli and I headed to the supermarket…more to come.