To Whom It May Not Concern;
It was supposed to be as simple as just walking on a plane, but this is South America- things go down a little (lot) differently than most other places. I had gotten up quite early, had my breakfast, checked out and then made my way across the street from the Costa del Sol Hotel to the airport terminal. Easy enough, right? Two hours before my flight and I am in line and asking in my broken spanish if I was in the right line and if I needed to worry about making it on time for my international connection. “No problema” she says. The same one, who 70 min. later said she never spoke to me in front of her supervisor and that she was actively calling for all La Paz passengers to come to the front of the line. I asked her twice and she even looked at my ticket and said a second time, “No problema, senor!”, like I was bugging her the 2nd time. I was at the front desk an hour and 10 minutes before the flight, but apparently in Lima on a National Holiday, all bets are off. I was told I was to be here 3 hours before my flight…hmmm, well the last time anywhere in the world I needed to be at the gate 3 hours before was days after 911, so I guess we are in an amber or red alert here in Peru. Life throws many lemons at us at times, but I just can’t seem to squeeze enough out of this 12 hour lay over for a drink (my second time around with accidental problems with LAN airlines, which resulted in a 12 hour layover) when trying to get out of La Paz on my way to Brazil in 2006. Guess where I had to go instead of my intended Sao Paulo destination yes, you guessed it, Lima!!
What’s it all mean you might ask…well, language can be a hornets nest all stirred up, is my divination. So late tonight I will be landing in the city with the name of the airport entitled “Alta” and it is very high up: 11,000 ft in places. Why is it I tend to repeat my own history. Before I even got here I was fully aware of my traveller’s bad luck when it came to Peru and Bolivia. So, even with that knowledge crammed into my very small brain, I still let it slide down that slippery slope of conundrum. A few things I have learned from such travel-esque moments: 1) never, ever use actual profanity (in La Paz they were going to call in a military guard to “settle”…in fact, they did have a guy watching my every move with his hand on his billy club and M-16. 2) if you do use profanity, make sure you omit god, jesus and mothers 3) first thought best thought might work with Buddhist philosophy, but when in an airport refrain from such endeavors, it can only lead to the conclusion: 1st thought led to four other real problems, which then results in excessive profanity while walking in the terminal by oneself. This usually sends a message to fellow traveller’s that you are truly one crazy, ass americano 4) don’t worry, there must be a lounge somewhere around here with Pisco sours raining from heaven just for you. 5) when in a business center and you have a spare 7 and a half hours left, make sure to wear headphones to block out the old school clock that is reminiscent of my grandmother’s old alarm clock that makes a very loud “click-click” noise with each passing second; this could lead to more profanity and screaming to/at oneself; whatever that means.
Aahh, yes, international travel…the excitement,the sheer sobering sense of cultural immersion, the sites and sounds (even in an airport after 10 or so hours)…oh, and smells (yeah, what the hell IS that smell) and it keeps following me around the terminal. The best part too, is when you have been loitering long enough that the secret police come over, take your passport, ask you what are you doing, where you are going and, at that particular moment, you realize that you are not sure at all of where you are going and what day and that maybe you won’t actually leave Peru. You shoulda’ seen the look on that undercover cop’s face. He actually shook my hand as he jotted down all of my information on his clip board “loiterer’s list” form. I think they are still watching me right now from some little camera up high and checking my background information for criminal activity. Thank god that felony charge from La Paz has finally fell off my record.