Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Friday, January 19, 2018

Penguins of Syracuse

We first lost our passports. I found them after about 40 minutes, it is not so hard to check all the possible places were they could have been put, starting when we returned from our last international trip. Which was fresh on our mind, because it was then that a dead 1500 year old monk split my head open and my coworkers reminded it me of it all day. "Have a great vacation but watch your head." I knew we must have had the passports on arrival and eventually we found them. Later that day I had a freaky accident playing table tennis and the injuries made me feel in a daze. I kept misplacing and losing many more things. Great start - all the bad luck was wasted. 

This morning we left half an hour late, the car was frozen including the inside of the windshield. The temperature is 10F (minus 12)." Windows are overrated!" I decided and I took off while Ileana Ruxandra was scraping the ice from inside. It only took 95 minutes to get to the airport. It was a gorgeous ride, clouds of vapors were raising from the lake and the hills were covered in snow. The icicles on some bushes looked like diamonds and the empty trees in the Montezuma wildlife reserve were a eery dead forest. 

We had time, it was 9.37 - the kids kissed us goodbye and took off, Ioan driving. We went to print our boarding passes. We got an unusual error "you will miss your connection, do you want to look for alternative flights?" There are no alternative flights. We fly from Syracuse to Bariloche. We would have had more than 2 hours to connect in JFK but our plane was rescheduled because of a "rest break". Now it was supposed to depart at 1.20 and our boarding time for next one was 2.25. We would have still made it, except that we would have to change terminals at JFK and another pass through security would make it impossible. We decided not to check any luggage. Passing through security took a very a long time and as he took apart all our belongings the guy told us about where he went in South America. Later, brainstorming with the gate agents while waiting and looking for alternatives, one suggested: "Tell them to give you a ride in their Porsche!" Seeing my face he explained "they do that for their valued customers." Yeah, this would be on the tarmac, behind security. And then he said "watch this!" With the flick of his index he changed the sign, our plane would leave at 12.50! As we still have to wait and CNN goes on and on about Trump, I did not want to read more of "Fire and Fury in the White House". Ileana Ruxandra helped me choose another book on my kindle: a travel guide to Patagonia. Lady Florence Dixie in 1878 says on page two: "we only took one servant with us, knowing that English servants inevitably prove a nuisance and hindrance in expeditions of the kind, when a great deal of "roughing it" has to be gone through, as they have an unpleasant knack of falling ill at inopportune moments." We feel for her and congratulate ourselves, we left all our English servants home. Up in the plane waiting to take off, in the snow we see four plastic waving penguins. Maybe we'll see some real ones.

We left at 1.05 and landed at 2.10. On the plane we asked Leah, the flight attendant, if there is anything she can help us with and she explained that we'd have to take the shuttle bus to the airtrain and then... I cut her off. Porsche? She had no idea. She moved us in the 5th row and wished us luck. We deplaned fast and ran in front of everyone. No sign for airtran, just a shuttle bus. No gate agent to ask for the Porsche. We get first on the bus, the driver is half asleep, "get off at the first stop", but he wouldn't leave until the bus was full. We get out first and run up in terminal 2. Terminal 2?!? Security says there is no airtrain, get back on the bus. Two people say this, but the bus people send us back inside. Another gate agent points to the exit, cross the street get out toward the parking lot you'll find the airtrain. Courtesy ride? Never heard of.  
It's a circular track and from terminal 2 to 7 you can go both ways. I asked three people which is the shortest and since they agreed, we get the first train. It's too slow but as we approached the terminal I saw our plane at gate number 5. By 2.50 we got to our stop. With the tickets in hand we ran down the stairs and the long corridors, got inside the terminal and straight toward the big crowd waiting at security. I spot an agent: "please help us!" She moves and takes us to cut to the front of the line and the security person who checks the boarding passes and the passports is also helpful: "please relax, you'll make it. Take a deep breath people have had heart attacks here, it's not worth it!" The machine doesn't want to read my boarding pass. When it did we all cheer. Then we ask nicely a few more  people to let us go first, load several trays with our stuff and pass security by 3 pm! Up the escalator running, no TVs for the gates, but I go for number 5 and in the empty hallways a lady comes toward us. She is from Aerolineas Argentina and she came to look for us. Six staff and security wait at the gate, we run toward them and some cheer like in an episode of the "Amazing Race". As one of them reissues our boarding passes we get to share our story and they are all amazed. "Your luggage will not make it." "That's fine" I say "we have no luggage" "wow, that's smart!" Everybody else is already on the plane., set in their seats, belts on. As we ran through the last empty corridor I yell "next time they have to pay us more!"

We used 60,000 Delta miles and $11.20 to buy these particular economy tickets to Bariloche, it would have been many thousands dollars. Since these were sign up bonus for the Delta American Express card, they were free. The first Delta purchase gave us $50 back. So we earned $38.80 to get through this. Ten hours later we land in Buenos Aires. It is 3.50 am and the temperature is 70F (20 degrees Celsius).

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