Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Patagonia, All about the Cops

February 3, 2009
Are there gymnasiums in your airports? – Airport Police

We are awoken at 11:45am by a hostel employee who admonishes us to clear out – the bed is needed by others and we have a flight to catch in two hours. We’re outside hailing a taxi in 15 minutes. At the airport I discover my gafas del sol are missing. Not good. We get our boarding passes, have a doble espresso and a sandwich, and I purchase a replacement pair in the event mine never materialize. Gary is feeling antsy – this man must MOVE, dammit! – he desires some exercise to get the blood moving after two days of lethargic traveling. I agree. Once we pass through security we begin to do some yoga and stretching when Gary points out a perfect hand crack rising up a glass wall separating us from the outside about 2 stories high. This is too good to be true. Gary takes an initial foray up the first few meters. I take a lap – it’s fun, perfect climbing. I imagine that if the cracks are at all like this we’ve got it in the bag – Patagonia can’t hold us back. It also whiffs of danger – surely airport officials wouldn’t condone this type of behavior. Gary takes a lap and I snap some photos of him. We’re discreet. I retire to do some more yoga, my headphones on, and a few minutes later Gary pokes me. “Hey, keep an eye on me. I’m getting messed with pretty hard.” I turn to see him being led away by, of course, the police.

Gary sending a perfect handcrack, Buenos Aires airport

Gary looks little next to this big man with a gun and uniform, and I want to scream, “Climbing isn’t a crime!!!” but I’m also amused and watch as Gary is led to the security area. Is he going into the fabled Room? Will he make the flight? Ah, now we have some appropriate drama! I kick myself for not being quicker with the video camera – this is TV definitely worth watching – and suddenly he and this large man trade a few words, he opens a glass door, and Gary is politely ushered outside of the secure area. The door closes, and the cop wanders back to his amigos. My partner is gone! It’s as if Gary was a naughty little puppy caught peeing in the house and was sent outside. So, a plane to catch, half of Gary’s stuff is with me, and he is on the wrong side of the airport now. Three police and a security check-point to reclaim for him. I wander outside the secure area a little bit later. Gary looks bored. He shopped while on parole. “Look, I got some good maps!” he says. He seems to think his sentence will be commuted once the plane begins to board, so I wave goodbye and cross security again. Our plane arrives, I wander over to the police, politely explain that the American (the stupid one?, a cop responds) is needed now. Stupid or not, he’s my climbing partner and thus needs to be with me, I say. Suddenly Gary materializes in line and we are reunited. “How’d it go?” I ask. “He asked me if there were gymnasiums in American airports.” Sayonara, Buenos Aires!

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