I arrived sometime after 6 am at Ezeiza Airport on the edge of Buenos Aires. I was meant to fly from the city’s other airport, Jorge Newberry, used for internal flights (which mine was) but it was conveniently shut. But I had at least got to the correct airport, handed in my flight baggage and got my boarding pass, so the next part should be easy, shouldn’t it??(I was to fly south to Ushuaia).
That’s what I’d have thought, but a quick trip to the toilet had me in a real panic. To understand this story I’d have to rewind about 10 hours when I was sat in Hat Trick Bar in Palermo, Buenos Aires. I was mingling with the locals and singing football songs with them. They were friendly, if arrogant.
And as travellers often do, and we are prone to the odd spot of naughtiness, I was coereced into smoking the joints in Buenos Aires. When you’re part of a party, cannabis is often brought out and it surprised me more that it was legal, or at least legal enough not to raise an eyebrow with the waft of it easily sniffable in the bar. (what lay ahead in Bolivia was slightly more raw and illegal however!)
One of the Argentinian guys gave me some free cannabis to keep as a souvenir for my travels (!) but I bunched it away in my back pocket and forgot about it. I didn’t actually want it, or even realise the significance of it at the time. Almost Noel Gallagher style – “it’s just like having a cup of tea.”
The night continued until it was morning and I was still partying in the madness of Buenos Aires. Since I went straight from the pub crawl to the hostel to the airport, I obviously hadn’t changed jeans or remembered about the dope.
I had already checked into my flight, then needed a piss. As I reached the toilet I realised my problem – the dope was spread all over my jean pocket – it had spilt out and I could smell it. This is the same guy who is quite anti-drugs and heading to Antarctica the following day! I narrowed down my options to 2:
1. Throw away my jeans
2. Clean my jeans as best as possible and hope the small amount of dope remaining wouldn’t be noticed.
I went for option 1, then quickly realised I had NO other trousers, shorts or bottoms in my hand luggage – they were all in the hold baggage. And there was no way I was going up to the counter asking for my luggage back. That would take time, and cause suspicions. And I figured I’d rather make the flight than cause annoyance to the airport staff. So it was option 2. It took me 20 minutes including flushing down the toilet all remains of cannabis from my jeans. Without a policeman or airport security staff coming in or out, I hoped.
I didn’t know how strict Argentina was, but I was travelling this time on my British passport so didn’t want any remote attention from the local Police, given the whole Falklands War history, plus the Maradona/Beckham incidents. They would just assume I’m English due to my passport and overlook the Northern Irish thing. So I had to have my jeans clean and just risk it – praying there were no sniffer dogs.
I got through security and I boarded the flight no problem. It was actually delayed in the end – so I had time for a coffee – funny that as I had rushed like hell to get to the right airport…
A last bit of sweat shed on route to the plane – we got a bus from the terminal. I don’t remember much of this.
Boarding the flight.
It was a relief on take off and I was sure that on an internal flight to the southernmost city in the world, they would not have sniffer dogs snooping around for someone smuggling in cannabis.
What followed my departure from Buenos Aires could only be described as sheer bliss. Amazing views over the Patagonian mountains…
Free food and drink on route too!! I was totally in travel mode and looking forward to a trip that even now I cannot believe I went on.
The closer we got to Ushuaia, the pulse starting beating and I had forgotten the whole unwanted drugs risk. What an approach to Ushuaia.
Landing in Ushuaia, one of the world’s most southern airports!
To my surprise there was no checks for passports or any sign of sniffer dogs. In fact this airport was rather quiet. Many things surprised me here – NO buses to the city centre – meaning either walk or get a taxi. (I chose taxi). It was NOT cold – I was told this was the world’s coldest city. Wanted to change to shorts almost instantly.
I was safely in the city I would leave to go to Antarctica from, but some confusion was to lie ahead. I got the taxi driver to take me directly to the Hotel Ushuaia, where the itinerary for the trip clearly stated I was due to stay for the night! The information and email from GAP Adventures read (of Hotel Ushuaia) “we recommend getting there early on the 4th November. The trip commences on the 5th November.” To me that meant the trip to Antarctica began tomorrow – the 5th November. It was now DEFINITELY the 4th November and I presumed was booked into the hotel for the night…
Transport Used – Airport Bus, Aeroplane, Taxi
Drugs Invloved – Squashed manky cannabis that I had no desire to even have on me!!
Cities Visited – Buenos Aires, Ushuaia
Key Songs – Double A-Side:
THE VERVE – THE DRUGS DON’T WORK:
MANIC STREET PREACHERS – DRUG DRUG DRUGGY:
KIKA CLUB, BUENOS AIRES, 4 HOURS BEFORE MY FLIGHT TO USHUAIA:
JUST ARRIVED IN USHUAIA AIRPORT:
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