Tuesday, March 16, 2010

EZE: It's a Personal Choice

Final day with the GAP: Antarctica Crew... Bye-bye.

I woke up for group breakfast. After dinner last night, this was mostly just a way to get the final moments of face time, take some last pictures, and prepare for the group departure. With eating done, and people congregating in the main lobby the taxis came one by one taking people away. Spastic waving through windows, and final parting hugs once more. One by one they all disappeared.

As I waited for my 1pm taxi, I was asked if I'd move it up to noon – and then share it. Well now, isn't this interesting? I wouldn't need to convert my 10USD bill to pay for the taxi if I just shared, so why not? Off to EZE i went earlier. And then, of course, I got to EZE. I went up and tried to check in.

I could not check in. Not until three hours before my flight.

My 11:00pm flight.

There would be some time that needed killing. But I could do this with my laptop. I was told there was free internet in EZE. There is no free internet in EZE. I could watch movies after plugging in. Where could I plug in?

It took me a few minutes before I realized that this airport I was in now was the same one I flew into three weeks ago. It hit me as a rather strange awareness, honestly. But after this epiphany I found myself disheartened. I had this problem last time I was here. There was no plug sockets.

Somewhere people needed to plug in their floor cleaners, but where – where?! In the cafe. Huh. O.K. there was a plug socket, and this would require buying a three dollar soda. But with that I could justify sitting in place for the required eight hours before I could check in. So now I'd plugged in. What would I do?

There was an episode of Co-op Live to watch, and that killed an hour. Three and a half hours of podcasts, while I played Frozen Bubbles... and then it hit me. This was no longer satisfying. While I had no problem killing days doing this before, I had re-discovered the excitement of travel. And with that, rather than filling time, I felt like I was wasting time. Time that could be use for exciting discovery, and wonderful wanderings. Yesterday was a fun day of nothing, but when you have two in a row – it's much less... great.

I killed another few hours by writing yesterday's blog – and getting to this point in the current blog. And we've become caught up to the present. It's all rather eerie. Everything that's happening now is happening now in the blog. I can talk about how there are security guards wandering in slow motion, and all number of cockroaches making their way across the floor. My soda is long since empty, and I'm quite bored.

But let us discover what I'd like to write about now. Maybe Antarctica. It's not late enough to really think back on it, and re-cap it... but soon I'll be in a brand new country (well one that's not here) and a place I'd never seen. And then I'll be looking forward, rather than looking back.

First – I'll invoke my inner Professor Parker, “Let's take a break.”

I discovered that I have Sudoku on this laptop – and that killed more time. Alright – so I have one more hour before I can go check in, and get to a brand new waiting room. And then in just three hours I can board my plane, if that gets in on time – which it probably wont.

There are smaller cockroaches kicking around now. Where have the big ones gone, I wonder?

So Antarctica – what stands out? There were blues that you could never really imagine. Not in the context of Antarctica. I expected whites, and greys. And that's all. But there was so much colour. Colours that you may have seen in photos, that have nothing to do with their colour balancing, and everything to do with what was truly there in front of you.

There wasn't much blue sky, but that was for the best, I feel. I have my shots with the blue, and my shots with the blowing snow, and the grey cold skies.

The weather – it was never that bad. We had some wind, and there was some cold. But it was that type of cold that you want to feel. The cold that lets you know you're somewhere else. If you had only shorts and a t-shirt, well that would be fine, unless the kitchen staff saw you – then you weren't allowed outside, and you'd need to sneak around.

The food was lovely – magical – but I've already adapted back to one or two meals a day, and I'm feeling fine with that. The memory of what it's like to be hungry is all sorts of neat. It makes the meals better. And it makes small meals more important. I bet flight food is going to be fantastic from this point on.

Lack of internet. I didn't really touch on this – but it was great. A lot of people have mentioned it since – the moment we got on the boat, we put away our tech. I still wrote my blogs, but that was no different than other people writing in their journals. I didn't listen to podcasts, or watch movies, or play games. I didn't even think about it. Every day there was something going on. Landings, lectures, meals – so many meals, chatting with good people.

When phones beeped to life as we neared Ushuaia the spell was broken for most. I stayed out until the free wifi in the airport. And then it was back. But being out of the connectivity was a wonderful experience where you could really focus on the moment, rather than thinking of what else you could be up to.

It's like not having a cellphone. When you're out, you're out – and it's great. But then you get that phone, or you get that internets back, and all of a sudden the addiction is back, and you couldn't picture a world without them.

Alrighty – back to frozen bubble and now it's 7:45. That's about right, as another podcast ends, for me to wander to the check in desks and wait. Bye bye bugs crawling all over everything. You shall not be missed.

What an action packed day, and no – it ain't over yet.

HA! HA! I'm through. I thought it wouldn't happen for a while, but I'm through to the airport proper. It took three people to mysteriously arrange my tickets, but it was done. And, like all should be, the airport tax was included in the ticket price, so I need not pay anything extra.

Once I had ticket in hand, I made my way through the scanners, and then through customs, and then finally into the airport. I had a long time waiting for those two things, let me tell you, and in that time I realized something. I smell. I mean, I know it must be, but I hadn't fully owned up to it yet. I do. I had four changes of clothing for the Antarctica trip – I'm in number four still. You know how long I was gone for.

On the boat I wasn't prepared to spend 4USD to wash a shirt, and 3USD to wash a pair of boxers. So now, now I smell. I have a clean change of clothes for when I land in LA and I'm hoping the hostel there will have laundry facilities. And then all will be right again. But, man, I'd hate to be sitting beside me. Just saying. Well – I've had to sit near “me” before, so now tables have again turned.

Moving on.

With 11.25 peso to my name I looked for bargain. No fast food through the gate, so nothing would be cheap. But, there was a wee market selling me RocketsMAX for 3.75. These are the ultimate in candy coated chocolate saucers. M+Ms never did it for me, I'm a Smarties person. But I love the super amount of chocolate that you get in M+M peanut – so I often fall prey to them. But these RocketsMAX have the chocolate content without the peanut waste! These are chocolates of choice for me. And they fit the price.

I was now down to – what? 7.50. Sounds right. Cans of pop were 11. Huh. Oh look, a Coke vending machine. Well, I might as well investigate. Oh me lord, for only 5 pesos I can get a 500ml bottle? The bill reader didn't work. Of course not. But I saw a second machine earlier. I went to it, fed in my bills, but then my 50cent coins didn't work. Of course not. Persistence paid off here, and after many upsetting punks it finally accepted and the Sprite was mine! Now I could fill my belly and take home 2.50 as a souvenir.

You know, I thought I might fall asleep here – but luckily there's a little girl running around screaming and crashing into things/people. Her parents think it's darling. I'm happy for them.

Question – all over the world I've seen FREE PUBLIC WI-FI as an available network. I have never been able to connect to it – and it seems strange that that label is in every continent. What it it? A hardware thing reading weird? Is it a virus that opens up peoples laptops as public hosts that you can connect to (but perhaps only at close range)? Is it a real thing that mysteriously floats around.

Seriously – what's up with that? You must have seen them too – have you ever connected? I crave information!

Well there's no plug socket here, and no web access. I guess I'll just eat my candy, drink my soda, and read. That is if the little girl stops trying to poke me through my seat. Ah, at least her parents have pulled her away. Back to the screaming, perhaps?

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