Arriving in Buenos Aires between Dusk and Dawn

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Ezeiza Airport Buenos Aires Thirty minutes ago I was sitting on a TACA flight descending over the lights of Buenos Aires looking at the most beautiful flight attendant I had ever seen. Now I am sitting in the backseat of a taxi discussing a price dispute with our corpulent cabbie in bumbling Spanish, the beatific image of Argentinians thoroughly shattered. Broad backed and endowed with a generous stomach forcing its way around his seatbelt, he also has the disconcerting habit of speaking rapidly and unnecessarily loudly. Still, this is better than other options.

Currently, there are warnings about taxis in Buenos Aires and entering the country for the first time at 3:30 AM is not the best time to try to figure it out for yourself. However, the airport makes it easy for you. Instead of flagging a taxi for yourself or taking a service that only drops you off at hubs you can book a taxi through an agency and prepay before you even leave the terminal. Once your address has been processed a porter shows you to your cab, which then takes you to your door.

Had it been only my friend Ville and myself there would have been no problem. However, on the flight we met an Israeli, Dan, who had been travelling for seven months and had already stayed in Buenos Aires for six weeks. We’d share a cab, cut the cost per person and everything would be fine. We had told the women in the taxi service office that we would need two stops, but that they were near each other. Would this be a problem? They said no. However, once in the cab our amigo behind the wheel asked us if we knew exactly how far Dan’s hostel was from my friend’s house. Admittedly, we did not, but we were quite sure the two were close. Now, straddling two lanes on a deserted four lane highway approaching the center of Buenos Aires we agreed that we would pay a small ¨taxi fee¨of $5 USD. After all, we were told, the airport drop off service is ostensibly for a drop-off, not drop-offs.

After turning onto the enormous Avenida Nueve de Julio, empty and ghostly, we ripped through a red light, hung a quick right and pulled up to Dan’s hostel. At his request we parked at the curb until he was let into the building.

Back in the car Ville and I sat back to enjoy the rest of our ride. We even struck up a conversation that didn’t revolve around the payment. Our driver told us he worked the late shift from 10pm until 6 am – the night is not for sleeping. With the bantering over and the music blaring in his little Toyota, we finally pulled up to our building. It ended up being only ten blocks from Dan’s hostel, but without any mention of it we paid the small extra fare. Being classy, our taxi driver again waited until we were let inside.

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