May 1, 2012 by Amie M
The Man’s and my Epic Adventure started off really well. We woke up in plenty of time to catch our Air Canada flight to Lima at 2 p.m. We also wrangled Audrey into her carrier and dropped her off with plenty of food and toys in her bed suitcase at Auntie Kate’s. After watching her slink around the new surroundings, and waking Kate up. We reluctantly left our baby.
We were off to Mississauga to catch our eight hour flight to sunnier weather. We parked the truck and anxiously waited to get into the airport.
The excitement was getting to me.
We checked-in, got through security, boarded the plane alright. And then we read and watched movies the whole flight. It went by really quickly.
We landed in Lima around 9 p.m. local time (they are one hour behind because they do not do Daylight Savings. We rushed through customs and baggage claim with smiles plastered on our faces. I was vibrating. We finally made it to Peru! When we left the arrivals, a taxi was waiting for us, hired by our hostel. It crazy to see someone with your name on a sign waiting for you at the airport!
We got into the cab and started a hair-raising cab ride through the most dangerous parts of Lima to our hostel. This was all in the dark, so our first impression of Lima was a bit skewed towards the dangerous. The cab felt like it was going to fall apart, and our driver, although very friendly, and anxious to share information about his city, didn’t take the most direct route. I could tell Paul was getting a bit nervous beside me.
But we arrived unscathed and safe at our hostel. We checked in, and went straight to bed. We didn’t get much sleep. The room let out onto the main meeting area, and because of the extremely high (and beautiful) ceilings, sound just bounced like we were in a cavern.
We woke up early, and headed out to check out the city where we only had the morning to visit. So we walked straight away to Plaza de Armas/Plaza Mayor.
Plaza de Armas is home to the Government Palace, Municipal Palace of Lima,
the Archbishop’s Palace, and the Catedral de Lima.
We wandered around to other Plazas, saw more churches and cathedrals, and cute pedestrian streets and alleys.
We were coerced into eating lunch at a patio cafe. My shoddy Spanish actually had the maitre d’ explaining the menu in Spanish. That is until Paul spoke English. Then he switched super quick to English and exclaimed about their special. We had no idea what he said, so we ordered two after asking the price.
Out came the best stew I’ve had in a long time. The broth, oooh, the beef, oooh ohhh, the spicy peppers! Ohh Ohh Ohh! Yum. I want to recreate this so badly!
Getting around in Lima, as pedestrians, we had an interesting go of it. There were a few close calls with drivers going through red lights and into pedestrian crossings.
At all the major intersections there were traffic police, monitoring and directing traffic.
If you weren’t walking, you were taking private buses, jammed full of people. It makes our half full buses look silly.
We headed back to our hostel in plenty of time to catch our prearranged cab to the airport. I tried to check into our flight, but couldn’t. I just missed to cut off for online check ins by 5 minutes. LAN closes their online service two hours before a flight. So we just dallied, made sure we had everything, checked out and waited in the hostel lobby for our car. Our flight to Cusco was at 230. We had asked for a car to get us there one hour ahead of our flight. The hostel insisted that only half an hour was needed for domestic flights at their airport. With them dealing with so many tourists and people leaving Lima for Cusco, we went with what they felt was good.
The car was to arrive at 1 p.m. It didn’t show until 1:20. We rushed our driver out of the hostel and drove nervously to the airport. What the hostel and the driver insisted was only a 20 minute drive, ended up being 30 minutes. We arrived at the airport at 1:50 p.m. We were nervous and anxious. We were running late and we knew it.
We rushed to the check-in desk, gave the attendant our flight information and passports. She did a little typing into the computer. Shook her head. Did a little more typing. Shook her head again.
“You cannot check in, flight is closed.” My heart stopped.
“The flight doesn’t leave for 40 minutes, we can still get on.” We tried to handle things well, and calmly.
She ushered her supervisor over.
“It’s impossible. The flight is closed.” I didn’t realize I had been holding breath, and let out a long exhale. This is not how our vacation was supposed to go.
“It’s not impossible. The flight hasn’t left again. Please try again!” Paul was getting a bit unsettled. I couldn’t hold it in, and started to cry.
“The hostel we were at arranged our car and said half an hour was plenty of time for at the airport. We didn’t know. We tried to check in, but it wouldn’t let us online. You have to do something.” I was stuttering, my eyes were huge.
“We can try to get you on the next flight. Tomorrow morning at 5:00 a.m.”
“That’s not good enough! We are doing the Inca Trail and we leave at 5:30 a.m. That is our trip. We have been planning this for 3 years. We have to get on this plane.”
Paul pushed him a little harder, and he went to ask his supervisor. He came back and said “There is nothing I can do. And you are tourists, and we try really hard for tourists. I can’t do anything.”
“Try again. The flight hasn’t left, we can make it.”
Joel, the attendant who was helping us out, walked us over to his supervisor. She was helping a family get checked into their flight, and was making small talk with them. After waiting patiently, Joel got her attention. He asked again if she could do anything. She shook her head and said “No, the flight is closed.”
Joel tried a little harder, and worked away on one of the computers. He eventually persuaded her to call the gate. She took her time dialing, and talking. I heard the gate attendant answer, he said “Si.”
And just like that Joel had handwritten boarding passes for us, and we were running through the Jorge Chavez International Airport. We ran with our big packs to security. Paid the departure tax. Skipped the security line, and then we ran hard to the gate. The attendants were only halfway through boarding. We had plenty of time.
“I’m so happy I could kiss you!” Was the last thing Paul said to Joel for getting us through and onto our flight. We thanked him incessantly.
We boarded, with our hearts still in our throats. The flight to Cusco was only 45 minutes, but it felt like five.