Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Still Sleeping on Airport Floors

Remember that sleepy provincial airport and it's puritanical curfew? Arriving back on the last Parisian flight, to find the shutters down and the last bus departed long before the witching hour? Left to the avaracious mercies of an airport taxi, no coffee and the truism that the first and last days of a trip are the most expensive?

Now, there's a second floor and a high rise car park, charges for drop-off, and all-night coffee. Even a Night Bus service. All of which encourages us to sit out a night to catch the red-eye to Amsterdam and a convoluted itinerary of arrangements and sleep deprivation that deposited us back in Buenos Aires two nights and one day later. All to make a considerable saving. The cheapskates ride again.

Alternative transport may have been required
Alternative transport may be required

These enlightened advances in pocket tucks and penny pinching come with a cost. To discourage rough sleepers, the management test the fire alarms incessantly, floor polishers patrol the terrazzo and police survey passports. In spite of these incentives to purchase an overpriced hotel room, there are huddles of slumbering backpackers behind corrals of trolleys, grannies nursing slow-drunk lattes and one snoring gent who's donned his PJs and sprawls like a beached whale, around which the early morning arrivals flow. We commandeer one of only two benches that have lost their armrests, and defend them against allcomers. There's no sleep.

Thirty six hours later, my body is in Argentina, but my mind is four time zones and two seasons in arrears. Not unlike our bags. We're gazing on a fast-emptying baggage carousel, the same forlorn vacant plastic bag coming around yet again. I'm not surprised; there were the auguries. The carrier who forgot to book our final leg; the waystation that is São Paulo's Guarulhos International; waiting in a two-hour queue for a boarding card; the flight not materialising on the departures board. We've played the slots, got four fruits on the puggie, but the bandit doesn't pay out.

Thirty further hours later and the doorbell rings, revealing a courier with a jackpot of two black bags. A collection of bicycle comestibles. Sprockets and chains, leather saddle and bar tape, toothpaste and clean knickers.

Time to build a bike. Time to start a trip.