Riley: Good Karma in Argentina


One of the first things I learned during my study abroad meetings before I left the U.S. was that if you have a “type A” personality or more or less are a control freak, you will soon lose sight of this by studying abroad.  This could not have been more true based on the whirlwind of a weekend I had last week.  

My friends and I were originally supposed to travel to the Patagonia region to visit Puerto Natales and the famous Torres del Paine National Park.  Unfortunately, the airline we booked our travel with hosted a strike the day before we were planning to leave.  This meant that all flights were cancelled until further notice.  If you know me in the slightest bit, you know that I have the worst luck with flying and I am a guaranteed bad luck charm.  With this, I was prepared to have a weekend filled with Netflix and laziness, but I was ever so wrong.

I was spending my time in Santiago with a very close friend who came to visit, on her last day, when all of this happened.  Two of my other friends decided, lets go to Buenos Aires.  I originally wanted to study in Buenos Aires and even planned to travel there, but decided against the idea when I realized U.S. residents had to pay a $160 reciprocity fee.  Well my reciprocity fee became obsolete when President Obama recently visited Argentina and somehow had the fee eliminated.  Lucky me.  At this point, when the idea to take a few overnight buses to Buenos Aires was suggested, I was all for it.  We would have to leave that very night from Santiago and would not return until the following Tuesday.  I had my bags packed with me in Santiago, but I only had clothes packed for the mountains, not for the city.  Spontaneity at its finest.  

Once my friends met me in Santiago, we boarded our first bus to Mendoza, Argentina.  Mendoza is known for its vineyards and wineries.  We only had plans to visit for a day before we boarded another bus to Buenos Aires.  On our way there, we stopped at customs where they checked all of our bags and our bus.  This took 3.5 hours and started at 2:30 a.m. therefor we did not leave customs til 5:30 a.m. which made for a 9:00 a.m. arrival.  Again, spontaneity is what I was telling myself as I became cranky from the lack of sleep.  Once we arrived in Mendoza we rented bikes and visited various wineries, trying a plethora of Malbecs, and snacking on countless empanadas.  We returned back to the bus station later that night to take a 14 hour, overnight bus ride to Buenos Aires.

Somehow, someway we really lucked out on this bus ride.  We had fully reclining chairs that were big enough to actually get some sleep.  We were also served champagne, coffee, tea, two meals, and various snacks throughout the night.  It was similar to first class, but for buses.  We arrived in Argentina with only suggestions for hostels and things to do, but nothing actually booked.  The perks of a spontaneous trip.  We took a metro to a suggested hostel, which ended up being right in the heart of Buenos Aires.  It was perfect!  Lucky for us, they had three beds available.  After we checked in and showered for the first time in two days, we began to plan our next few days via Pinterest.  Again, if you know me at all I NEED to have a plan when traveling and schedules are my favorite.  I also prefer to begin planning AT LEAST a week in advance.  This lack of planning was all part of the adventure and everything seemed to work out perfectly.

We saw every famous monument there was to see in Buenos Aires, like “Obelisco” and “La casa rosada.”  We also explored every neighborhood including “La Boca” and “Palermo.”  We even took a free tour that showed us different parts of the city.  If you ever take a trip to Buenos Aires, I highly recommend visiting “El cementerio de la recoleta.”  There were no tombstones, but instead mausoleums with elaborate decor.  It was absolutely incredible.  

The next part is all about the good karma that occurred while traveling.  When we were leaving Buenos Aires, all of the metro stations were shut down for whatever reason, therefor not permitting us to get to our bus station on time.  Remember how I said I have bad luck traveling?  We rushed to take a taxi to get to our bus on time.  I could not find my wallet to pay for the taxi once we arrived, but a friend suggested I just pay her back.  Once I got on the bus, I checked my book bag and my purse with my wallet no where to be found.  I knew that I did not put my wallet in my suitcase before we left, which I could not check anyways because it was on the storage part of the bus, so I immediately started crying, assuming that I had been a victim of pick-pocketing.  I calmed down realizing that all my credit cards and ID cards could be replaced even if the pesos could not.  I also realized that I was extremely lucky to still have my passport and my cell phone.  It was also frustrating at the time because without phone service or WiFi, I could not cancel any of my cards or call my mom to let her know what happened.  This actually turned out to be a good thing.   When we arrived at customs at the Chilean border, I checked my suitcase, and my wallet was not there.  I was able to contact my mom to tell her what happened, and while she insisted that I immediately cancel my cards, I planned on waiting… just in case.  After 24 hours and four buses, we finally arrived back at home in Viña del Mar.  Following this, the next day, as I was getting ready for school, I received a message from a stranger and had originally planned to ignore it.  Thank goodness I did not because when I read it he sent me a picture of my wallet and said that he found it near the “Obelisco” monument.  I was ecstatic to say the least.  He offered to mail it to me even though it would cost him $60 USD.  I could not thank him enough and offered to pay him back and send him a gift.  He said (in Spanish) that it was not necessary and although he does not have all the money in the world, he knew he was doing a good thing.  I cried to say the very least.  Side note: again if you know me at all, you know I will cry over just about anything.  To make the story even sweeter, he counted my Argentinean pesos and my Chilean pesos in my wallet to tell me exactly how much I had and said that he would never take that cash from me.  The amount added up, therefor my wallet ended up in the right hands if I were going to lose it at all.  

I am currently waiting to get the wallet back, so fingers crossed that everything is still in there and there are no bumps along the road, but to even get this far is incredibly lucky and I can only say that it was because of good karma and an even better person!!

Below are some pictures from my trip, but to see even more of my adventures, follow me on instagram @Rileydunworth 🙂

P.S. I have been asked a few times if I would ever return to Chile, and currently I’m not sure, but if you asked me if I would ever return to Buenos Aires, my answer ten times out of ten would be YES!!

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