On the day we left for Kerala I threw my back out and a wheel fell off my suitcase. We then spent twenty minutes trying to find the right bus or a rickshaw that would take us to The Nw Delhi railway station before giving up and taking a cab. Surely not a sign of things to come I had hoped, but fast forward twenty four hours and all was not well. I was however, able to salvage the wheel, bearings and all, and hammer it back into place using a pad lock (MacGuyver style yo!) It held up long enough to make it back to Delhi after Kerala, but when it came off the carousel, it was just a sad looking little peg. I knew this was probably inevitable, but was going to try my luck at the customer service counter. We had eight hours to kill and nothing better to do.
Enter the language barrier. Sure they spoke English, but the CSR didn't seem to understand what I was saying. I had to simplify: "there was a wheel, now there is no wheel" as I comically used the kathikali gesture for "over here" to indicate my missing wheel. I resisted all urges to throw in the Indian head tilt, probably not appropriate but I had taken to making this gesture behind peoples backs, but mostly to grind Claire's gears. Sadly, or rather predictably, there was nothing they could do for me. There was an email address I could contact, but at this point the fight had gone out of me and this didn't turn out to be as entertaining or time killing as we needed it to be.
So what did we learn? When buying a suitcase at Target, just because it looks sturdy doesn't mean it is. There have been times on this trip where the belt needs to be tight and other times when money was no object. Buying a suitcase should have fallen somewhere in between, but sadly was the former in an attempt to save twenty bucks. That twenty bucks could have gotten me the matching Swiss Gear set of belt, wallet, "vertical boarding bag" and luggage. I could have been a fucking fancy pants going through all those security check points, but no, not this time. Instead I'm just a schlep who has to carry around Cap'n Carryon.
We were shorty after able to check into our flight and headed through to the gate side. The food court was all but closed except for McDonalds. Nothing says breakfast like a chicken sandwich, fries, and frosty at four am. I would have preferred a comically huge bag of peanut M&Ms from the duty free shop, but the thought of consuming the entire bag had a worse effect on my stomach than the actual consumption of the McDonalds. We've since vowed not to eat there again for at least a year. Buenos Aires was going to be the land of delicious meats and there would presumably be no need for an American fast food emergency in the near future.
The last few hours were spent sleeping on chairs outside the duty free zone. Had we ventured closer to the gates we would have found reclined chairs and the rentable sleeping pods I had read about, but luck wasn't with us at the airport. It was however, all over the first leg of our trip. We were embarking on three consecutive 10 hour fights and needed all the luck we could get. Surprisingly, the Air India flight was the best. Enough leg and elbow room to rival business class on domestic flights. I could fully extend my legs and put my head down on the tray in front of me without any unusual contortioning. Food and entertainment center were above par to boot. Sadly, it was BA and AA for the second two legs of our trip and I can't say as many nice things about them. Thankfully the booze was free. Cheap bottles of wine go a long way to make a long trip enjoyable.
Living out of an airplane for two days was a stark contrast to the eight days we just spent in Kerala. From non stop, lush beautiful scenery to non stop airplane food and cramped quarters. One day you're being driven around "God's own country" by your own personal driver on the way to your elephant ride, then next thing you know the concept of date and time have become as foreign as the country you just left. We're a pair of city folk, and our time in Kerala was the most nature either one of us had been exposed to in a long time.
So after 40+ hours of traveling, were happy to be recalibrating to civilization. We've been in Buenos Aries for a few days and we've already found their equivalent of Target (it's two blocks from our apartment), paid a visit to the Puma store, and have started making plans for our stay that involves learning spanish, booze, dancing, shopping and eating meat. Claire commented the other day that if all we did was eat meat, drink wine, and shop for four weeks she'd be perfectly content. I saw no need to argue her point as Buenos Aires is looking to be one of the better decisions we've made on this trip.