The white, chipped space heater hums to life as I lunge towards it and flick it on in a desperate effort to defrost my icy limbs. Sitting cross-legged on the rectangular patterned wooden floor in front of the heater, my body welcomes the heat as the pale warm orange glow of its radiance fills my corner of the room. It's 4:30 A.M., and I couldn't possibly feel more drained. The rolling metal shade (that resembles those sort of gates they roll down in shop windows to prevent looters from breaking in) blocks out the city light that I know is ceaselessly shining, regardless of the wee hour of the night it currently is.
I pull myself away from the heat to snag my towel from the back of the aging wooden chair placed at the foot of my bed and walk past the floor length mirror that doubles as a sliding closet door. Tiptoeing to the door, I cautiously work the tarnished gold handle open, careful not to wake my roommate. The compact apartment quickly fills with the loud barks of the family dog, Tuppi. Shushing him and letting him sniff my hand to reassure the dog that I do in fact belong here, I saunter five more paces to the bathroom.
A small car pulls to a stop just across the street, and we’re greeted with a wave from a teacher on the trip with us. Skittering across the crosswalk, we throw our bags into the car and jump in. Leaning my head against the window, I observe as the buildings skate by one by one, each sequential building seeming not too different from the last. I barely move until we reach the regional airport half an hour later.
Greeting similar groggy eyed classmates, we tag and check our luggage, and then move on to the security line. After making our way through the (disconcertingly) sparse security check, we walk to the second terminal and drop ourselves into the nearest dark blue plastic seating. Passing the hour until boarding time, I can’t help but feel a little nervous. There’s an airport strike among air traffic controllers currently, and some planes are being boarded up and ushered out to the tarmac, only to be sent back to the gate without taking off. That’s part of life here, though. In South America, you just have to go with the flow.
After the boarding time comes upon us, I stand in line and hand my ticket to the attendant. Making sure to use my best Spanish, even at this hour, I continue on out the door past the ticket desk. We hop onto a loud, shaky bus, which totes us to the plane waiting on the tarmac several hundred yards away.
Luckily, our plane takes off without fault, and we’re soon high in the air soaring parallel to the eastern border of Argentina. I try to sleep during the two hour plane ride, but I’m much too excited to be able to get much rest. As we near the final descent of our flight, I look out the window. I’m relieved to see endless expanses of green foliage awaiting me below. It’s the first time in a week since I’ve seen more than three or four trees in one place. I could never live in the heart of a city for any substantial amount of time. We disembark the plane at a small, brick, two-terminal airport.