It’s 11:30 p.m. at the Lima airport, and at the moment, we’re not impressed with Yvonne. The first hint of trouble came as we were doing our international transfer. Third time you go through an airport, you start to feel like you know the place. We’d made our way into the maze of check-in, baggage dropoff, tax stamps, etc. when Gregor caught up with us and explained that there was a problem with the Dixons. You see, we’d all been booked on a flight that left around 8 o’clock. But the Dixons had been booked on a flight that left at 8 o’clock that morning – almost 12 hours ago.
Gregor says he’s on it, though, and we should just focus on getting ourselves through the process. He is, and we do, and shortly find ourselves hanging out in the boarding area, slurping up the free wifi and wondering what’s going on back at check in. Gregor comes sprinting down the hall as they call our row and gives us the bad news: the ticket agents say there’s no room on the flight tonight. Or tomorrow morning. Or tomorrow night. They also said that if he didn’t bolt through the boarding process right then, *he* might not make it onto the flight either. The Dixons, it would seem, were on their own.
We settled into our seats, speculating whether they’d just head back to the states early or…?, and were a little surprised at how many empty seats there were as the flight attendants started to close the door – then opened it again to let on Mike, Susan, Anna, Carol and John. Somewhere in the game of LAN telephone tag, the airline realized that there *was* space on the flight, and sent them along at the last minute.
Fast forward to our late night arrival at Lima. Plan, according to the playbook, is that we put up at the airport hotel and get up early for the flight to Cuzco. Except that, as we muster at the loading zone with our luggage, Fidel (our new found Peruvian minder) explains to us that the “airport hotel” Yvonne booked is not actually the one across the street from where we’re standing. It’s the one 40 minutes away by bus. After some quick sidewalk strategization, we conclude that the most efficient course of action is to just get on the bus and go. Eh – we’ll just keep the kids pumped with caffeine and chocolate tomorrow, and everything will be fine.
Non-logistics: the story that keeps coming down to us is that Lima is “the Inca’s revenge”. Apparently, before things went completely to hell in a handbasket between them, the Incas recommended this location for a capital city. And apparently, it’s the most godforsaken chunk of land in the entire broad land of Peru. From here, I can’t really tell – it’s dark and foggy.
Impression: heard what sounded like Ecuadorean folk music coming from the airport cafeteria in the Quito passenger lounge. Went in looking for a chocolate bar, and found the wrinkled short-order cook behind the counter crooning a song while accompanying himself with elaborate fingerwork on a beautiful old nylon string guitar. He smiled when I tried drumming along with my hands, nodded – almost apologetically – when he came to the end of the song, as if to say “Indulge this old man his little excesses, will you?” These Ecuadoreans – I like them, I really do.