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  • It seemed like a good idea at the time: A day in Buenos Aires on the way home. I could enjoy a bit of the city, maybe see a friend or two, and break up the trip. Besides, it was the cheapest ticket, by far, to an expensive destination.

    Changing airports, I would have my bags with me but I could figure something out. I looked into bag storage at the airport (but I was switching), the bus station or maybe a hostel. I found one of the latter in San Telmo, emailed in advance and headed in that direction even though I hadn't heard back.

    It was closed.

    With the car long gone, without a travel guide or a book, without international data working on my cell phone, I stood in the middle of the street with my bags and tried to figure out what to do. Then, I started walking. I looked for WiFi signs in restaurant windows and for hostels in every building I passed. My bags grew heavy, my heart weary. I didn't want to leave Uruguay. I didn't want to go home. I didn't know when or where we were meeting for lunch.

    At a corner, a man stopped me to ask from whence I came. He practiced his English with astringent breath and drooping eyelids and told me I was beautiful. When he ran out of English, he told me he loved me in Spanish and switched back to ask if he'd angered me. I told him he didn't, gave my thanks in Spanish and edged away.

    At a restaurant with a WiFi logo on the window under the word "TripAdvisor," I rang a bell for entry. They buzzed me in and I dropped my bag into a chair, my backpack to the floor and myself into a chair before a cup of coffee con leche.

    I tried to connect to the WiFi. It didn't work. I sent a text or two the traditional way, blinked back the tears that had been building for a day and a half and enjoyed a croissant. Media luna. Half moon. The restaurant filled around me.

    Everything would get better. Then, I'd leave.

    I would pull on my big girl pants, just not the expensive, ugly, but functional travel ones I'd left drying on the back of the chair in our hostel room, and I'd deal. I'd shoulder my bag and walk through the madness of San Telmo on Sunday. I'd stop to take pictures, figure out the subway and take a cab the rest of the way, find my friend for lunch that would stretch most of the afternoon outside on a sunny and warm winter day, and we'd walk, shop and talk before a taxi would me to the other airport as the sun set.

    In the morning, I'd wake in Houston. By lunch, I'd be back in DC, back to summer, to work, my life. Everything would be fine. More than fine. Perfect, almost. One day in BA.
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