Today was our last morning in an English speaking country for the next two months. These last eight weeks had been a nice break and we had even commented that being in Wellington with Leah and Stephen had just felt like we were visiting them in San Francisco. Today though we were leaving them to continue their north island adventures and we were flying off to Buenos Aires ans start the last third of our trip.
After some early morning goodbyes, we had some business to try and take care of before heading to the airport. Lynn has discovered holes in her shoes yesterday walking around in the rain and, after that made me curious, I also found some in mine. No wonder they weren’t as waterproof as their Gore-Tex tag implied. We’ve only had these shoes for four months so we called Solomon via Google Hangouts to see what our options were. After waiting on hold for thirty minutes we were told that they were still under warranty (yay!) but we unless we could part with them to ship back to the US we didn’t have a lot of options (boo). Lynn tried calling a few Solomon retailers around Wellington to see if any were willing to handle the RMA for us but none had our shoes in our size in stock. She did find a Kathmandu by the airport though that said if we came in they would have a look and see what they could do. It was on the way to the airport anyway so deal! We quickly finished packing, locked up our ramshackle Airbnb , and climbed in an Uber.
A short ride later we pulled up to what could have been confused for any retail park in the US. Only instead of a Best Buy and an REI they had a JB-HiFi and a Kathmandu. We walked in with all of our luggage and made for the shoe wall where our new best friend Dan asked if we needed any help. We explained our situation and he was not hopeful. They wouldn’t be able to do an exchange for us but he was surprised our shoes were already falling apart after only four months. He showed us some newer model Solomons, with tougher treads for urban walking, and left us to discuss if we were willing to shell out money for new shoes.
We went back and forth but eventually decided that 10+ miles a day moving forward would leave our current shoes in even worse shape and with us about to enter the rainy season in South America new shoes were probably necessary. Though we did discuss some very creative duct tape and super glue options along the way. Dan could tell we were reluctant at the price and called around to see if any stores had discounted last year’s colors. They had (yay) but not in our size (boo). He eventually was able to get us a corporate discount which knocked off about 15% and some encouragement from him and another employee made it sound like we could get most of the cost back from Solomon when we got home. Satisfied with the price we went for it.
We still had an hour to kill so we poked around the store. We ended up with some rain pants (again Dan gave us a discount even though they were already on clearance) and some microfiber towels. Dan then gave us directions to the post office, which we walked to and shipped home our old and busted shoes to await our arrival in the spring.
By now it was time to finally head to the airport so we called another Uber and arrived a few minutes later. The rest of the afternoon passed uneventfully. We had a quick curry lunch, a short flight to Auckland and then killed a four hour layover browsing the duty free stores and reading about South America (we bought a Lonely Planet – will today’s spending never end!) Eventually we boarded our Air New Zealand flight bound for Buenos Aires. There were a worryingly large number of people who needed assistance finding their seats (like actually needed help finding them, not just that they wouldn’t sit down). At least there was no one sitting next to us after an initial scare from an older German man, who had been sitting in the wrong seat, and we settled in for a twelve hour flight back to the Western Hemisphere.
The flight was mostly spent watching movies that have come out over the past few months and despite laying perfectly still for an hour I didn’t manage any sleep. Lynn fared a little better.. We landed at 3 pm, four hours before we took off (hooray Date Line!) and quickly made it through customs. Here we booked a bus to our Airbnb and got some cash out of an ATM. It seems their withdrawal limit is 300 pesos ($26) so we will be going to the ATM here a lot. We boarded our bus and I immediately fell asleep.
45 minutes later we arrived at the bus depot where a pre-paid taxi took us the rest of the way. I managed to stay awake for this and we noticed that Buenos Aires looks a lot like any European city with blocks of eight story apartments and little shopfronts on the bottom floors. We got to our apartment, showing off the tiny amount of Spanish we both know to give the address as single digits and then to say “a qui.” (I know, it’s an impressive amount). We headed up to our home for the next eight days where we got a very unnecessary tour of the lovely studio apartment (“This is the balcony. these are light switches,” etc.)
After our host left we both immediately showered and took what had planned on only being a nap. Three hours later we woke up for a bit and watched a marathon of Spanish Masterchef Junior Season 3 (spoiler alert: Maria wins it all) before falling asleep again (for thirteen hours – oops).
Daily Walking Miles : 4.41 miles
- Movies watched on the plane include: Vacation, Magic Mike XXL, Intern, Sicario, The Maze Runner, and The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2 hours of Thomas shouting “Go, go, go!” while running in the dark with flashlights). From these I learned that you should not watch a gritty drug drama before heading to South America. While falling asleep I heard a motorcycle drive over a metal plate and immediately thought it was gun fire (it was not).
- One of the Masterchef episodes had three little girls cooking for the American ambassador to Spain. We learned that he speaks barely more Spanish than we do, which seemed odd to us. We both thought speaking the language would have been a pre-requisite for the job.
- In Argentina, they pronounce ll as “sh” instead of the traditional “y” sound. This led to some confusion because we are staying on Gallo street. Luckily I had read a quick Argentinian Spanish overview while waiting at the airport and knew what was up.