Stories from south of the border
The Job and travel troubles
I’ve been in Buenos Aires for a week now, and I am still in total shock that I’m really here. Maybe it’ll hit me sometime. Maybe not. As the final college semester starts to come to a close, us graduates get the same question over and over again. “So, what are you going to do now?” And we’ll more or less all give you the same answer: We want to travel. The nearly two decades of the same nine months on/three months off routine has come to a close. We want to have fun and see the world. Traveling requires a lot of money even if you are that grungy dread-locked backpacker just “living off the laaaand”. It can take months to years even just to save for a month long trip to anywhere. As the excitement/fear of graduating came near and underemployment was imminent, I decided that maybe landing a job that pays you to travel would be the ideal choice. After a bit of networking and email-forwarding, I landed a job with G Adventures (formerly known as GAP Adventures). I am a CEO, which most would identify with being a tour leader, but my job entails much more. A CEO, or Chief Experience Officer, has the responsibility to ensure optimal life changing experiences. Without getting too cultish about it, I am basically everyone’s best friend. We specialize in small group adventure travel, which we say is for people who don’t like the “all inclusive resort” style of travel, but also don’t want to do the dirty backpacker hostel route either. It’s that nice in between, or, dare I say “GAP” in travel. That’s where we come in.
G has adventures all over the world. My region is called the Southern Cone. We cover tours in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, and Uruguay. When I got the job, my manager Julio informed me that training was to start on June 3rd…in Buenos Aires. My last two months in the US were pretty busy, having to finish college, work, move, and prepare my life for 18 months in South America. I hung out with as many friends and family as I could in a such a short time and then suddenly I was off to DIA with my life packed into a backpack and duffle bag. The drive to the airport gave me extreme deja vú. Almost exactly a year ago I was off to study abroad in Nicaragua for five months. This was going to be a different animal entirely, however. As soon as my dad dropped me off at DIA, however, I almost blew this amazing opportunity. Forty minutes before my connecting flight to Dallas was to take off, American Airlines nearly didn’t let me leave the country. This was because I had no documents to prove to them that I would not be in Argentina longer than 90 days and therefore did not need to buy a different visa. I was about to freak out in a place where they don’t like that so much. Luckily, my new rockstar manager, Julio, was on working on a Saturday and was on Skype. Having emailed me a fake trip itinerary that would put me in Ecuador the following week, I lied to the lovely American Airlines staff and swore on my life I would be in Quito in a few days, showing them my “tour”. Luckily the receptionist bought it, printed out my boarding passes, and let me go. What now, American Airlines!
After two flights, an hour of sleep, and still buzzing hard on a Lunesta pill, I lifted the blind to see us flying over sprawling Buenos Aires. I remember flying into Managua, Nicaragua and being able to see the entire city end to end. Buenos Aires is the complete opposite. I have to learn my way around this place as if I were a porteño (from Buenos Aires)? This was going to be absolutely insane.