We arrived in Buenos Aires about 4 hours earlier than our relatives expected us. They had planned to pick us up, but we decided to get there on our own. Having heard about the dangers of grabbing any taxi (in fact, there were warning signs posted in the baggage areas warning passengers to take official taxis), we made sure we found the official airport taxi service. My mother called her sister to let her know we were early, and a lengthy conversation ensued between my mother, aunt, fellow at the counter and other members of my aunt’s family. The fellow at the counter had to convince them they were reputable. It was somewhat funny to us. This was my first experience of how security conscious Argentineans are.
Our driver was a very nice fellow. And he did his best, but got hopelessly lost when he approached my aunt’s house. The ride was to take 45 minutes, and after an hour, I knew the family must be getting worried. The driver received a couple of calls on his cell phone. I found out later it was my cousin’s husband, who had somehow gotten his number and was trying to guide him in. As we finally made the correct turn which got us to the street – my mother said, ‘There they are!! All of them are out by the house waiting!’ And I could see my aunt, obviously worried, raise her hands to her head in relief.
I forgot to mention something: my mother didn’t tell them my brother and I were coming. She let them assume my father was going with her. Although Tony and I were somewhat uncomfortable with this, she insisted she wanted to surprise them. And were they ever surprised. As we got out of the car, confusion ensued, and I remember my cousin saying, ‘Where’s uncle?’ But when she found out it was Tony and I, we were engulfed in huge bear hugs! It was wonderful. My cousin, Stella, had last seen Tony when he was a baby. She was 9 when she left Italy – it must have been a shock for her, he’s 54 now! I think they were torn between the joy of having us there, and the disappointment that my dad wasn’t.
Next – The house