PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Antarctica Journey, Day 1: Buenos Aires

Sometimes good energy pays off and the beginning of my journey to Antarctica illustrates that.

I’m a pastor and my trip to Antarctica was originally part of a Lily Sabbatical grant that I lost after leaving the congregation I was serving. I was called to move the church from a charity model to one focused on systemic racism. However, the leadership of this urban church in transition refused to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism, so we reached an impasse and I lost the grant. But I took a leap of faith to not let the trip itself be taken away and booked it before I had a call a new call.

Fast forward to New Year’s Eve, when I was departing for my trip. I was chatting with the gate agent about my trip before boarding and my goal of seeing seven  continents before turning 60. Just as I was about to board, the agent asked for my passport and then handed me an upgraded seat to Premium Class, saying “Happy Birthday.” So my 11½-hour flight was considerably nicer.

After arriving and connecting with my travel companion, Janel Kuester, who flew in from Minnesota where she serves as a pastor, we headed to our hotel and checked in.

Because it was New Year’s Day, we were concerned about what would be open but were able to head out for a walk around the Recoleta, a neighborhood that is the prime tourist location, gettingt a feel for the city.

The mosquitos also got a feel for us. They were both unexpected and awful. I was almost moved to tears when a stranger, unprompted, walked up to us and offered us a spray of her repellent! Truly a grace-filled travel moment.

In the evening, I did the two things you have to do when in Buenos Aires. Eat steak and see a tango show. There was no way I could show myself at my dance studio upon returning if a tango show in Buenos Aires wasn’t on the agenda. It did not disappoint! Truly an astounding performance with sensuality and panache.

I’m sorry about not having more time in Buenos Aires, but this was sort of a value-added bonus to a trip focused on Antarctica. And I’m glad I got a little feel for the place, albeit arriving on a holiday meant we missed the awful traffic I’d heard about, which was another value-added bonus!  Good energy truly does pay off!

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