Sunday, 9 November 2008

Toronto to Buenos Aires

The flight from Toronto to Argentina was always going to be difficult, because it started at about 3 in the morning GMT. I was exhausted when I got on the plane, so I instantly covered myself with the blanket and got into a sleeping position. I came around momentarily during take-off, and the next thing I can remember is waking up and feeling sick. A combination of tiredness and sitting in the bumpy part of the plane was taking its toll on me. Not to mention the fact that it was feeding time. It must've been about midnight Toronto time, but they were handing out the meals: the cabin was filled with the horrible smell of aircraft meat. As if this wasn't enough, there was the incessant yapping of an air hostess. "Would you like chicken or beef? Chicken or beef? Would you like chicken or beef, sir? Chicken or beef?" I noticed I was holding my pillow next to my stomach for comfort, and all I wanted was to tell her to shut up, for the stink of meat to disappear, for the bumps to stop… "Chicken or beef?" Still, even though I was nauseous, the appetites of everyone else on the plane seemed unaffected by the fact that it was not the time to be tucking into meat and veg, and my fellow passengers all enjoyed their meals.

The food eventually went, and I took my chance to go to the toilet. I then sat back down and spent I don't know how many hours drifting into and out of sleep, waking each time with the inevitable sore neck. As I became more exhausted, my sleep must've become deeper, and I got to the stage where those moments when I woke up were really just like dreaming with my eyes open. My sleeping ended for good when I managed to have a proper dream, which involved the Big Brother house. After this, I woke up and was surprised to feel refreshed. I looked at my clock: it was 8.45 Buenos Aires time, so I was well within my rights to be awake. I checked the screen in front of me to find out where we were. We'd reached the equator.

The remains of the dream stayed with me for a short while, and I wondered what the dream could mean. But as the dream faded, so did my interest in it, as from nowhere a tune had started to play in my head. The keyboard intro to the Paleface remix of Bongo Jam was looping over and over... I had no idea why the tune had suddenly started playing, but I gave in to the urge and pulled my iPod out of my pocket. Soon after the tune started, I realized that there was no sound coming through the right channel. I started and stopped the music a few times, but still nothing. Either my right earplug had stopped working, or my right ear had… I plugged the earphones into my Nano, and discounted the latter possibility, then swore under my breath at the fact that my earphones had stopped working at such a bad time. I had about 12 hours more travelling to endure, and my earphones were bust. No music. No Elite Beat Agents on the DS.

I fiddled around with the wire, and realized that the problem was a dodgy connection at the jack (this was surprising, as every other set of earphones that has given up on me has always failed at the earphone end). Luckily, I was able to position the wire so that I got both channels. I listened to Bongo Jam. With that need satisfied, I realized that I needed the toilet, but the guy sitting next to me was fast asleep, so I'd just have to hold on…

Eventually, when everyone had woken up and breakfast was served again, I got talking to the guy who was sitting next to me. His name was Stefan, he was German, I started talking to him in Spanish at first, but a German will always speak to you in English… 38 years old, and he'd spent the last 10 years of his life doing what I was doing: taking time out from work in the winter, and heading to Latin America for an adventure. I couldn't help but start to wonder if this would be the first of 10 years for me, too…

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