South America Diary: Day 17

Sunday, 1 May, 2011. LAN flight from Lima to Santiago, 15:12

It’s a travel day, as we go from Cusco to Santiago, via Lima. We rose at 06:15, after a reasonable night’s sleep. I took another Imodium just before bed to ensure I didn’t repeat any of the problems of the previous night. Thankfully it seemed to work.

We had breakfast about 06:30, then returned to our room to brush teeth, seal up our bags, and head out. I had to use the loo urgently, but it was a fairly normal event. It did however hold us up a few minutes while our taxi was waiting outside the hotel. We checked out and were on our way by 07:10.

At Cusco airport, we had to check in, for which there was only a single counter open, with a queue of a dozen or so people. Nearby were self-check-in terminals, but no matter what I tried, frequent flyer number, booking confirmation code, passport number, nothing worked to access our booking. So we waited in the queue as it slowly trickled forwards. The two men in front of us got to the counter and took ages there. M. said they were changing their flights. Finally, they left and we checked in. We tried to go through security, but they wouldn’t let us until closer to our flight time. So M. got a cappuccino at a cafe while we waited. Then we went through and were on our way on another flight.

View from Caesar Business Hotel, SantiagoThe flight to Lima was an eventless one and a half hours. The good thing was arriving and feeling the sea level air pressure and the soothing effect it had on our breathing and heart rates. At Lima, we emerged from the domestic arrivals area into the main terminal, and then went upstairs to the departures area to go to international departures. The first thing was a security check, which was pretty quick, then we had to clear immigration, which took significantly longer. There was a single queuing corral, but at the end it split up into four lines, supermarket checkout style. We chose the wrong line, because someone in front of us apparently had a problem and our line didn’t move at all for about ten minutes. Meanwhile, people who had been fifty people behind us in the original queue were passing through before us in one of the other sub-queues. Eventually we made it through, then browsed some shops on the far side. I tried asking in one shop that had CDs for Latin American covers of European pop songs. A guy told me he knew exactly what I meant, such things were very well known, but they didn’t have any!

We went to get a snack, since it was lunch time by now. M. got a packet of yuca chips, while I got a chicken and mushroom empanada from a small food place. M. liked the chips; they were crunchy and plain in flavour. The empanada was boring, but slightly filling. Then suddenly I checked my watch and noticed our flight left in twenty minutes! We rushed to the gate, and found it at final boarding call, and everyone else already on board. So we scrambled on and are now on our way to Santiago.

2 types of fish and 3 types of chips
Caesar Business Hotel, Santiago. 21:53

Well, Santiago is a much more modern city than Guayaquil or Lima. The traffic flows sensibly, the buildings are modern or in good repair, it’s cleaner, and it basically looks like a European city, not a third world one.

We arrived to discover Santiago is two hours ahead of Peru for some reason, meaning it got late sooner than we expected. Arriving in the airport, the first thing we had to do was pay a visa waiver reciprocity fee as pointed out by signs directing citizens of Canada, USA, Mexico, Australia, and (oddly) Albania to cashiers to pay the fee and have a form stapled into our passports. We paid US$61 each for the privilege, which also put us near the back of the immigration queue. It did mean we didn’t need to wait on the other side to claim our bags though – they were rolling past on the carousel as we arrived. From there, it was through a customs scan, then out to the arrivals area, where a driver from the hotel was waiting patiently for us.

Lamb and mashThe drive to the hotel took about half an hour along modern and smooth freeways and streets. The driver then asked something to do with a form, but didn’t speak English, so we had to go into the hotel to let the reception guy translate. We elected to add the transfer cost to our hotel bill, and let the guy handle the details of paying the driver. The driver then left and we headed up to our room – a very nice one facing the National Library building across the road.

After settling in, we went down to the hotel restaurant for dinner. M. had fish and chips, which came with two types of fish, some prawns, and three types of chips—potato, sweet potato, and tapioca—and a tangy sauce with peanuts in it. I had lamb with mashed potatoes, which was also really good, and all of it was really cheap too. M. had a raspberry juice and liked it so much she had another, and I had a Corona beer.

Dinner done, it’s time to turn in and sleep through to a late morning tomorrow.

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