A friend told me that the news of the Buenos Aires airport being shut down due to an ash cloud had actually made the news in Columbus, Ohio.
Since I am traveling, I am ignorant as to what news makes it back home. I have to admit I am even ignorant of what is going on in Argentina. I rely on the expats I follow through their blogs and on Twitter for my news about Buenos Aires.
I only knew about the ash cloud over Buenos Aires because my roommate Ayngelina had her flight back to Canada canceled and was stuck for two extra nights.
I assumed everything was fine after that first week.
A week later I went to move into my new home, a room I rented from a French expat who would be visiting Paris for several weeks. When I arrived, Anouk was stressed out. She told me that her flight had been canceled, and she could not get a flight out for four more days.
I had no idea why.
The ash cloud of course.
I was completely unaware of the fact that the airport had been closed on and off for several days and many people had been stranded both trying to get out and get back into Buenos Aires. It really was a mess and had been causing massive travel issues all over the world.
Maybe I should start reading a newspaper on a regular basis.
I dropped off my things in the house and left for the day. I tried to push the question of what was going to happen with our living situation out of my mind.
A friend knew that I was moving this day and asked me how it went. I told her the story. She then proceeded to tell me about the terrible situation the ash was causing in Bariloche, a popular tourist destination in the foothills of the Andes.
An environmental emergency had been declared.
There were piles of ash several feet high in the streets. Everything was canceled and many businesses were closed. People had to wear masks when they went outside, but experts were concerned this still was not enough protection.
Electricity was inconsistent because the water-powered generators were affected by the ash. Roofs were collapsing under the weight of the ash. So much ash had seeped into the wool of the sheep in Bariloche (link to National Geographic photo) that they could barely stand and were having trouble finding a food source.
I could not imagine such devastation.
What would I do if something like that happened where I was? Sure, planes were not flying out of Buenos Aires and we had thin layers of ash on things, but this was not a state of emergency.
Getting back to my living situation.
In the grand scheme of things, this was not that big a deal. Luckily, our house is large and has an extra bed in the living room where Anouk could camp out until her flight. This was an easy solution that met both of our needs.
When I got home that first evening, Anouk was concerned about whether or not she would make it to her friend’s wedding in Paris. Then she said something that really resonated with me.
“Oh well. There is nothing I can do about it. At least I’m alive.”
It is so easy to let a bad situation get blown out of proportion.
We start spinning and stressing ourselves out over things we cannot control. I hope I remember this and incorporate it into how I live my life.