March 7, 2020 – Houston, Texas, USA to Buenos Aires, Argentina
Neither my friend nor I sleep much on this long 9.5-hour flight…just half hour naps once in awhile. I admire the Moon setting over the Pacific Ocean as we approach Lima. The light from the Moon illuminates the clouds below us – very pretty. Later, with a darker sky once the Moon has set, I observe the Southern Milky Way.
The sun rises as we fly off the coast of Chile, so I can see the thick cloud cover below us. The aircraft has travelled down the coast on a southerly route, but makes a turn to head southeast to Buenos Aires two hours before our arrival. When the heading changes just north of Coquimbo, Chile, we lose our 50 mph tailwind and pickup a 15 mph headwind increasing to 25 mph, which explains why we were flying this heading down the west coast of South America.
We cross over the Andes Mountains and then the Pampas as we approach Buenos Aires. The headwind picks up to 58 mph as we get closer to the airport. Buenos Aires airport is quite large, and our 777 is given the second-to-last gate, so we have quite a hike to get to the immigration hall, where there are well over a thousand people waiting to be processed. We manage to pick a just-formed line, and get through in under a half hour, claim our checked bags, and clear customs. The Holland America reps are waiting for us in their orange shirts to take our checked bags from us, and we board a bus which transfers us to the dock area.
The cruise check-in process is a bit convoluted, since we now have to clear Argentinian immigration again, fill in a health questionnaire about the coronavirus, before being processed by Holland America. We obtain our key cards for the ship, and give our passports to Holland America for safekeeping and so they can clear us at each port-of-call.
Once we go aboard and find our stateroom, we get cleaned up a bit and go for lunch in the Lido. By the time we return to our stateroom, our checked bags are waiting for us. I call home to let my family know I’ve arrived without a problem and I’m aboard the ship. Later, we have dinner in the Main Dining Room. My friend has a pork rib entree that looks great and I have very tasty Flat Iron Steak with grilled onions, and a cappuccino for dessert.
We are both obviously very, very tired after our 22-hour marathon travel session, so a good sleep is welcome! Tomorrow, we get to explore Buenos Aires before our departure.