Of all the places that might be on the Gringo Trail – that much famed backpacker route around South America – the Best Value Motel a few miles from Houston international airport is not one of them. We were supposed to be touching down in Buenos Aires around now, but instead I found myself smuggling away some sachets of Philadelphia cream cheese, the only small mercy from the bleakest looking breakfast I ever saw. It’s not often you find yourself longing for aeroplane food, but at that point I’d have given my right arm for some. Not content with casually misinforming us upon online check in that our departure time was over two hours earlier than expected, United Airlines had now managed the admirable achievement of cancelling our connecting flight from Houston to Argentina a mere two hours after it had taken off. Back to Texas we went.
In all, it had taken us 45 hours to reach Buenos Aires, but it mattered not. Ahead of us lay almost six months of travel, and with it came a mixture of apprehension and excited anticipation. The worst we’d had to encounter on our last big trip in New Zealand was the odd wandering rogue sheep and the occasional gripe with our beloved but elderly camper van. Latin America was to be a completely different kettle of fish, and here we were in Buenos Aires and ready to take on a new continent. With 10 weeks of Spanish lessons under our belt, five variants of suncream and bug spray, and some sachets of Philadelphia cream cheese, we were back on the road.