The Great Escape
When I left, I had only known for about 3 weeks that I would actually be taking a leave from work and get going to Level 3 of the Big Game of Backpacking; The Gringo Trail through South America. Level 1 is of course either bus bumming through the USA or doing Europe by train ("inter-railing"), and Level 2 is the South-East Asia/Australia "farang" experience. During these 3 weeks I had tried to read up on Spanish and the general culture of the continent. Of course, I did not succeed, since I had to put in a lot of hours at work the last couple of weeks so that the company I work for would not have to hire someone to drag me crying back to work on the day of my departure.
Hence I was a pretty much unprepared traveler, but this did not affect my eagerness to get away from life back home, my need for travel knew no limits and certainly no borders. One of the reasons I was very eager to leave the country was that just a few days previously, I had been attacked, in my own home, by a journalist and a photographer. They totally refused to leave the premises until they had gotten an exclusive interview with me. The reason for their interest strangely enough was not my wit and intellect, but instead turned out to be my travel sickness bag collection (parts of which you can visit here, but do return here after doing so). When they finally left, I certainly felt that the article to come out of this event would most probably portray me as a complete and utter idiot. (If you read Norwegian you can decide for yourself whether it did or did not, here.) The article was scheduled to appear in the weekly weirdo section of the Sunday edition of the newspaper, so leaving on Friday seemed like a very good idea. I felt confident I did have the financial means to stay out of the country until everything would be forgotten, should the article really turn out as bad as I feared.
The weather in Oslo was nice but also very, very cold, at about -12C/+10F. I, of course, was leaving for South America, and did intend to travel very light. Hence, I was freezing some of my more provincial members off, walking from my appartment to the train station. The thought of tropical beaches kept me going at a steady pace, since at the time I luckily did not know that there would be none of that on this trip. As a matter of fact, it turned out I did not know much about South America at all. Hm. No, that is inaccurate. What I mean is that pretty much everything I thought I knew about South America was just not correct. But we will get back to that on numerous occasions throughout this journal, so never mind that for now. Let it just be said that if you, like me before I went there, don't really have a clear idea about what the southern parts of South America is like, do read on and be prepared for rather surprising details to surface.
Air France did an excellent job in bringing me to my fifth continent. All their trans-Atlantic flights are now on Boeing777's, where every seat is equipped with a personal screen on which you can pass the time by playing Tetris, watching movies or get infinitely annoyed by the way the controls work, or, in some cases, how they don't work.
My flight seemed a lot shorter than it probably was, since I slept almost all the way through it. There was, however, a short moment of great suspense when I, mid-air, 30.000 feet above the ocean, coolly and proudly left the bathroom after having done my deeds without spilling as much as a drop. My first accident was a suddenly a reality; I had ripped off a button on my shirt by getting caught in the lock on the bathroom door. Luckily I have served in the Royal Norwegian Air Force, where the only weapon I really learned how to use was a needle. My shirt was in perfect order again even before we touched down on Ezeiza, Buenos Aires' International Airport, where the real journey awaits you. Goodbye airline food, hello steaks of the Pampas!