DISCLAIMER: If you are a member of the FBI, CIA, any other like minded organization, or Dick Chaney, I am not in any way a terrorist, and the title of this entry is a joke. You all could use a laugh.
Krystyna, my love, dropped me off at LAX around 10pm. The line for check in at Taca, the Peruvian airline I flew with all the way, was out the door. I felt like shit waiting there in line, probably because I hadn´t slept in a real bed for a few days, and simply had not been taking care of my body.
I had about an hour to kill after I made it through security. They pulled my bag aside when they saw my flask, but the ornery little TSA man gave up trying to pull it out from underneath all of my tightly packed things and let me go through. Good thing I´m not a terrorist. I fell asleep quickly at my gate, and even quicker once I was on the plane. I woke up only for food, a nasty mess of alfredo pasta and a roll so hard you could bounce marbels off it. When I woke up the next time we were landing in El Salvador.
I had 5 hours in the tiny airport, and wasn´t confident enough to leave. The El Salvador airport is situated in the middle of a wide field ringed with short-stumped, long-branched trees that resembles, oddly, pictures I have seen of the Sahara. There wasn´t much to do besides sleep and read, so thats what I did. Here´s a picture of the place.
I reboarded my flight, and was surprised to find that Taca airlines serves unlimited free alcohol, even to the pleebs sitting in coach.
TRAVEL NOTE: When flying to Peru, book your tickets through Taca. It is an excellent airline, the staff is friendly, and the prices are cheaper through their website than on expedia, travelocity, etc.
It was a managable 7 hour flight, nothing particularly special to comment on. The real fun began when I arrived at Lima at 7:10pm.
The Lima airport is a bustling, hyper-modern airport. It is a hub in South America, and therefore very crowded and chaotic. Unfortunately, flights to Cusco during the rainy season only take place in the early morning hours because that is when it is clear enough to fly a plane through the valleys of the Andes. I was booked for Taca´s first flight, but that was still a good 10 hours away from when I landed.
Fortunately, you can sleep in the Lima airport. However, it is a terrible experience. First, a picture of my lodging that night.
Note the brightness of the place. That never ceases. Most airports and train stations have a personalized jingle that plays before an announcement is made over the loud speaker. The jingles in France are particularly frightening. The jingle in Lima is only three notes, the first three notes of the song “Happy” by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins. Not too bad, except that those three notes, and subsequent ear-shattering announcements made first in Spanish and then in English, occur at a frequency of about 1 every three hundred miliseconds ALL NIGHT.
Lastly, Lima is a very warm, very humid city. It makes sleeping akin to lying in a shallow puddle. And yet, somehow, the airport in the middle of the night was very cold. So I had to keep my sweatshirt on.
And this is how I came to resemble the sketched image of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, while sleeping on a row of chairs at the Lima Airport. Sunglasses on to protect myself from the lights, headphones in and playing Sovay by Andrew Bird on repeat to drown out (unsuccessfully) the announcements, and hood up to protect my sweaty head from the cold.
Three times during the night a man riding a miniature zamboni around the airport would wake me up and tell me to stand up. Then he would drag the row of chairs, surprisingly unbolted from the floor, to a random location in the airport, so that he could Zamboni where they once were. I felt like a stray dog.
Finally 3:15am arrived and I was able to join the long line to get my boarding pass. Sleeping by the gate to my flight was a similar experience, so I resolved to stay awake since I was anxious about flying anyway. When I did get on the plane, the pilot announced that there was a delay because the clouds had settled. It only lasted a few minutes, and I got into a pleasant conversation with the older Canadian woman seated next to me.
The flight from Lima to Cusco only lasts about 1 hour and 15 minutes, but it is one of the most breathtaking flights I´ve ever been on. Outside the windows, the peaks of
Snowcapped mountains reach up through the clouds. As you approach Cusco, little villages with red roofed houses come into view, growing in size until the low, bowl-like city of Cusco comes into view.
Coming up next, my first exhausting and strange few days in Cusco. Should be up the next few days.