August 17th, 2004

emu

Flight

The airport from Calafate is way out of town. But it is cute when you get to it. One small building, 4 flights today only. When I arrived an hour and 20 minutes before the flight, only one shop was open (still 50%) and no desk. After I checked in, I stood outside a bit later to see the flight coming in. Only 10 minutes late, the cabdriver who stood next to me, said that it is as good as on schedule. Sometimes it comes a day late...

Even then we couldn`t go through the security check. I counted 4 others, that I had to beat to get to the plane, as there was no seat allocated and I wanted a window seat. The cabdriver had shown up for nothing, nobody on the flight wanted to go to Calafate.

A few minutes later we were sent through, not a really safe check. Both my shoes as from the guy in front of me contained metal, hence we got some heavy beeps, though were told to walk on regardless. A small walk to the plane, four steps and a nearly empty space greeted us, window seats for everyone.

It almost felt like going on a bus trip. No leg room, but luckily I noticed others push the seat in front of them down, which helped a bit. No lockers for the hand luggage above us, just some rack, like in a bus again. But everyone just kept their luggage on the seat next to them. Soon we were off.

Lago Argentino looked even better from the air, especially with the sun out today. Blue-grey-green, I wouldn`t know how to describe the colour, but it seemed really cold. Another advantage of a smaller plane is that it doesn`t go up extremely high. The views were therefore great.

Patagonia from the air is a brown bumpy field. Almost no vegetation, according to the taxi driver steppes, only some snow on the higher tops. The RN40 (road) can be seen, but apparently isn`t completely open in wintertime. This is a difficult area to live in..

In the background the really high mountains of the Andes were visible all the time, the sights were so great, that several of the staff sat down at the windows themselves. I got worried by the time the third one came out of the front door. Was there still anybody flying the plane? I guess there was, though 4 staff for 5 paying passengers does seem a bit much. Soon after the start we got offered a drink though by one of the gentlemen who went to get the drinks one by one from the front. I got some lemonade in a plastic cup, it almost felt like a children`s party.



We saw plenty of mountain lakes, many of them frozen, some small rivers, one city, one airstrip and many many many mountains in the nearly three hour that we needed to fly from Calafate to Bariloche.

At the airport a bus was waiting to get us to the terminal. Not even 200 meters on a small airport, yet we all boarded the bus. Then our luggage came with us on the same bus, but when we got off, we were told not to take the luggage. So we entered a door, went through a second and stood at the belt, while someone else took our luggage (we saw him struggle through the window) to the other side of the belt, for us to pick it up. Great system!