Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sleepless in Buenos Aires

I rarely lose sleep over anything. Sure, it might take me a bit to get to sleep, or I might wake up with things on my mind, but I still always manage to get a few good hours in every night. Except last night. For some reason, the worries that I'm usually able to conquer took hold tight last night and refused to let go.

We needed to take a taxi to the main airport in Buenos Aires for a flight that left at 5:30am.  When I booked it, I only looked at the good price, and never considered some of the logistics.

In my defence, the flight I booked left from the more central, almost downtown airport. A much easier departure than the bigger and further airport -- to which the airline changed our flight about about a month after booking.

Then, last week, I started to think about getting a taxi to the airport. We needed something at about 3 am that holds 4 people and our bags. It's easy from a hotel, someone calls one for you and if there's a problem, they call another for you. Or they have their own favourite car service they call for you. Either way, you can be quite certain that you'll be in a vehicle and on your way within half an hour of wanting to leave.

But, we were in an AirBnb; just us in an apartment. Our best chance at hailing a taxi was two blocks away - easy in the daytime, perhaps not so easy at 3am. I could call a remis (car service) but my Spanish is no where near good enough for a telephone conversation ordering a taxi. In the end, I asked our AirBnb host for a name and got the name of taxi driver who would take us.

Worry number 1: The taxi doesn't show up. It already happen in Rio, but that was a midday departure and so easy to find a taxi. A no-show in the middle of the night presents a different challenge.

Many people think worrying is unnecessary or a waste of energy, but I have always believed I'm quicker and make better decisions if I have thought through some backup plans. As an aside, I felt quite redeemed reading Chris Hadfield's "The Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth" where he discusses the benefits of preparing for the worst. Yes, if it wasn't for the math and science, I would have made an awesome astronaut. But I digress.

If the taxi didn't show up, we did have the EasyTaxi app (sort of like Uber) that would maybe get us a car (or two if we didn't all fit into one), Kerry could have gone to the main square to try to hail a taxi, or I could have tried to order one.

I didn't like any of our backup plans, but I was fairly confident our guy would show up. Though I did book him at 2:30 to give us some extra time, just in case.

A 2:30 am departure automatically leads to:

Worry number 2: We'll miss our alarms for 2am and oversleep.

Well, as soon as you think this thought, you guarantee you won't miss your flight because at a minimum you'll wake up ever 30-45 minutes to check to make sure you haven't overslept.

My big worry though was just getting us all out of the apartment building. The AirBnb host wasn't going to come and see us off at 2:30 am. He said to just leave the keys in the apartment. The door to the apartment locked automatically when you closed the door, so leaving the keys inside worked. However, there were still two other keys we needed to get into the foyer of the building, and then out the main door. It didn't matter whether you were coming or going, you needed the keys to get through these two doors.

Three keys: one for the outside door to the building, door from the foyer into the main building,
and one for the apartment. You need them all whether you are going into the apartment or leaving it.

While leaving the keys in the apartment worked nicely, it led to:

Worry number 3: If one of the two entrance doors closed after Kerry had left the key in the apartment, but wasn't out yet, he would be trapped in the building with no way out, at 2:30 am. Or maybe, a door would slam shut leaving one of our bags trapped in the building.

I couldn't hold both the heavy doors on my own because they were too far apart. The bags probably would, but I had visions of the taxi driver swooping in, grabbing one of them to put in the car, and me watching the door close in slow motion but unable to move quickly enough to save it. While moving to stop the one door, I imagines letting the door I was holding also close leading to the worst case scenario that Kerry would be trapped in the building, I'd be trapped in the foyer, and the kids would be outside with the taxi driver. 

My only back up plan was that Kerry could bang on one of the 5 apartments in the building and maybe one would open the door, and maybe they'd figure out he needed out of the building. But I didn't like this plan at all. Maybe the taxi driver would figure out to buzz someone, but there's no intercom so we'd need someone to answer their buzzer and come rescue us.

As I started to think about this when I went to bed early, the more worried I became. The kids are generally very reliable and I'd put one kid in charge of each door, but how would they be at 2:30 in the morning? Of course, they had a bit of a restless night, and I began to worry that they wouldn't be reliable in the least due to lack of sleep. Of course, the thought of the aftermath of dealing with two tired kids and their emotions once they realized that Kerry was trapped in the building "FOREVER!" did nothing to help me ease into a peaceful slumber

Then suddenly it was 2am and time to get ready. Well, not really suddenly, I barely slept, making the night feel long. My mind raced a little. I laid there with my eyes closed hoping sleep would come. It didn't. I read a lot about the River Plate football team, that we saw play on Sunday, and then read up on Leo Messi. I read some of my book. I waited for the alarm to go.

I probably told each kid ten times to not close the two front doors or Kerry would be trapped. Meaghan, wise to my planning ways, asked about the back up plan if he did get trapped. Her eyes grew large and she looked slightly alarmed when I admitted I didn't really have one.

But the kids were up to the task. The taxi showed up -- ok, he didn't have enough room for all of us and our bags, but I'd planned for a moment such as this and knew that we could put the kids' suitcases on our laps in the back seat. This morning we only needed to put one bag in the backseat which fit nicely on my lap.

We headed to the airport without incident. The taxi came. Kerry made it out of the building with ease. Our overweight bags (the airline has a crazy low weight, especially with the cheapest tickets) & carry-ons were not weighed. We found our new AirBnb in Puerto Madryn (in northern Patagonia) and napped.

Since everything went along so smoothly, I can't help but think I should have just slept, but a wee part of me is quite convinced that my sleepless night actually let me plan for the worst and helped get us through the day with ease.

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