The morning after coming back from the Inca trek, we were scheduled to get on a 7am flight from Cusco to Lima to Buenos Aires (BA). We woke up at 4am on December 18th (which felt like 3 minutes of sleep) and were whisked away on our free cab ride (see post about Machu Picchu) to Cusco’s tiny airport.
We got to the airport at 5am feeling good and confident and excited to finally get to the city of tango, steak and Evita!
Alas, not so fast! After all of my research about visas, entry costs for both US and European citizens, what I have completely missed in my research is that although a US citizen does not need a visa to enter Argentina for less than 90 days, a US citizen MUST pay a reciprocity fee of $160 and have PRINTED proof of that to be able to enter Argentina (this is good for 10 years).
As I stand at the ticketing counter (all blood has now gone to my feet), I realize that my boarding pass won’t be printed unless I have this printed proof which I haven’t purchased.
So, let me recap:
- It’s 5am;
- The airport at 5am has NOTHING opened;
- No hablo español;
- The flight leaves in 1 hour;
- I tell Kieran he should go and I will stay in Peru (as an Irish citizen, he doesn’t need anything). Because in my guilt ridden, sleep deprived state this made a lot of sense!
- Hands are now shaking and at 5am no alcohol is available.
This cool and relaxed and sleep deprived US citizen lost all of her cool and melted into the ground, while the calm and collected Irish was able to think quick on his feet. We paid a buck or two at a cafe to use their internet where we bought my reciprocity card on Kieran’s laptop (reminder: my brain has melted, thus leaving me completely deprived of passwords on my own laptop) after which I begged the ladies at the gift shop (in my non existent Spanish) to print it for me (they did – it was magnified by 100, thus missing all the important information). I wish Kieran was around at this moment to record my interpretive dance of explaining what a printer is and what a visa is and how I need to print this visa on their printer. Then, I was reminded that speaking loudly and doing a dance does not translate into speaking Spanish.
In the midst of this running around we found out that the first leg of our flight to BA was delayed due to bad weather in Cusco thus causing us to miss our connecting flight to BA that same morning out of Lima (the next available flight was at 10pm that night). As we were getting our new boarding passes in Cusco, the airline (Avianca) was so overwhelmed by the demands from all the passengers who were missing their connections, that they never even asked me for my reciprocity card (hahahahahahahahahahahahaha – I deserved that). Side note: Not once, did anyone in Argentina ever looked at my reciprocity card; if I knew this would have been the case, I would have just bribed folks in Peru for $10, rather than paying $160 for something that Argentinian authorities could wipe their butt with.
When we finally arrived to Lima (only an hour late), we watched our flight to Buenos Aires take off before our eyes (sadness). So, the still ever so cool and collected Irish asked the airline representative to give us VIP lounge tickets as we would be stuck at the airport for 11 hours (to get out of Lima’s airport to go to town was useless as the ride by cab is long and we have already spent 5 days in Lima). Also, exiting the airport and coming back in after checking in costs $38 per person (I know, that makes ZERO SENSE).
We walk into the lounge and instantly my heart fluttered with renewed joy and any lounge that I have ever been to in US was immediately put to shame! HOLY CRAP! Full open bar, delicious food, sleep rooms, showers, reclining cozy chairs, TV’s, internet and the never ending table of desserts!
The day that started off kind of shaky (to say the least), turned out to be the most relaxing day in 2 weeks! At 10pm on December 18th, we boarded the Avianca flight to Buenos Aires (gorgeous modern planes with tons of leg room). One ambien (sleeping pill) later and I don’t remember how we ever got to Buenos Aires! Did I mention that the reciprocity card was never looked at and is now floating in some toilet?