I awoke early. I was going on another adventure. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was actually going to another country. I was supposed to be in the lobby to meet for the tour at 6:30am. My telephone rang at 6:15. The front desk told me my ride was here. What did she mean that, “my ride was here?” The tour was supposed to meet at 6:30am in the lobby. I rushed down and the desk pointed me to a man who did not speak English. I took my tour ticket to the front desk and asked if this man was the ‘tour.’ It did not make sense to me. Where were the other people? Why would our tour guide not speak English?
Juan, at the front desk said he did not know anything about a tour. There were two men in the lobby speaking to each other in Spanish who looked my way. The bellhop asked, “Are you Rebecca Cooper? This man is asking for you.” I asked the bellhop if he would translate. I asked, “Is there anyone else going on the tour? It is only 6:25am and we are not even suppose to meet till 6:30.” The bellhop and man communicated some more and I was told I was the only one going.
The tours I signed up for months ago were advertised with the conference I was attending in Argentina. There were 5000+ people attending this conference and I was the only one going on a tour?
I went out the door. It was still dark. The driver opened an unmarked regular car door. Ok, maybe it was because of my first taxi ride day in Argentina that I started feeling apprehensive or else something was terribly wrong. I got into the car and prayed. “How do I get myself into these things? Is it because I am just too fearful and worrying or should I be afraid?”
We drove along a disserted street where all the stores had their iron garage doors shut over the storefronts. There was trash in the streets and a few people milling around. It looked familiar; like the place where the taxi driver took me to steal my money. Up ahead I saw blue flashing lights. Later I noticed that all the police cars have their blue flashing lights on all the time, not just when there is something wrong. My first thought was, “Should I jump out and get into the police car?” The taxi pulled up behind the police car at the red light and the police car drove through the red light.
The driver finally stopped at the shipping docks. I asked, “Where do I go?” He kept waving towards a door to the left of me. I was glad to get out of this car, but where was I going now? I had imagined being on a tour with other mental health professionals from around the world getting to know each other and listening to a Translator, who also interpreted in English, about the sights we were seeing.
I entered a huge terminal for ships with long lines of people waiting their turn at the windows. Now what? I had hoped there would be someone there with a sign with the name of the tour company or my name. But no, no one was looking for me and there were no tour signs in sight.
All I had was a ticket that had been emailed to me. No one there knew what the ticket was for. No one around me in line understood English. I got to the window and they kept asking for my ticket. This one didn’t seem to be the right one. An English man standing in another line came to the window at that time. He heard me trying to make sense of all this. After he finished his transaction he came to me and looked at my ticket. He said, “This ticket says ‘flight,’ was I suppose to be flying to Montevideo?” I hadn’t a clue.
This was not like any tour I had ever been on. The ticket agent took my passport to her supervisor. I could see them talking. They looked up my reservation with my passport number and yes I was in the right place. I was taking a boat to Uruguay and I needed to go to the immigrations office and go through customs. What?