Wednesday, May 15, 2013

An apple a day ...

After many days of searching in vain for a charger and one very long bus ride (17 hours loooooong) we had made it to Buenos Aires. The bus station was the first clue that we were in a big vibrant city. Although the lady behind the information booth at the bus station gave us directions to take a local bus, we decided to take the short cab ride to our hotel in Central Buenos Aires.

It was still quite early when we arrived at the Park Silver Obelisco Hotel. While we were waiting for the official check in time, Laura the very kind hotel receptionist took at least an hour out of her busy day to help us with our “Apple problem”. “Mercado Libre” is South America’s E-Bay equivalent. Between Laura and the bus boy, who had a better handle on the website, we had a lead on a charger within an hour. Things were looking up!

An email was sent to the seller and almost immediately, the seller had called the hotel and was speaking directly to Laura. After a fairly long conversation, with me chiming in to be sure we had the right charger, we had directions to (what we thought was) a shop in an area called Linieres — a subway ride plus a long bus ride and a short walk away from where we were staying. Laura wrote out clear instructions and even lent us her bus card so that we didn’t have to figure out how to obtain one. The most important detail was that we must arrive before 1:00 pm, so we had no time to waste.

Marc and I set out immediately on our first adventure in Buenos Aires, not knowing what we would find. There had been so many false starts that we tried not to be overconfident. We found the subway and figured out where to get off. Then hopped on a bus, asking the bus driver where to get off in broken Spanish. So far so good! After we got off the bus, we were a bit turned around, but with the help of a gas station attendant we found the street and the address. We found ourselves in front of an apartment building on a residential street and not a retail store as we had expected but we were not discouraged.

The first clue that we were in the right place was the name in the directory beside the apartment number we were given — mini.mac. I had to hold back a laugh as I buzzed. When a female voice answered through the intercom I gave her the password (which was “Laura”) and in a minute or two she came down and unlocked the door, took a quick look in both directions motioned us into the building’s foyer with a smile and closed the door behind us. It was a bit unnerving, but once I saw the charger in her hands, I was almost in tears with happiness and relief. We made the exchange — I gave her the money — she gave me the charger — and we were soon retracing our steps back to our lovely hotel in Central Buenos Aires! As simple as that!

I owe Laura a big debt of gratitude for saving the day and maybe even our whole trip. We stayed in four different hotels while in Buenos Aries, but Laura and all of the staff at the Park Silver Obelisco Hotel made us feel so at home and went out of their way in so many instances, that I have to say it was one of the best hotel experiences we have had in all of our travels. Without Laura, who knows how we would have managed.

With disaster averted, we settled in to enjoy everything Buenos Aires had to offer.

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