Over the Andes, eventually

When I booked all of the flights for our round the world trip, I had been able to get fairly civilised times for most of them. The flight from Argentina to Peru seemed to be a decent enough time at 8:30am but having experienced the traffic around Buenos Aires, we didn’t want to be making the journey to the airport during the morning rush hour. While we would in theory be moving in the opposite direction to the weight of traffic, the lack of arterial routes through the city means that we would be directly impacted by the weight of traffic. Our experience has been that there’s no compunction about blocking intersections or making illegal turns, or any of a myriad other minor traffic infractions, so why take the risk. That’s why we were in an Uber at 5:45.

So it was that we arrived at the airport (variously called Buenos Aires International, Ezeiza International, or Ministro Pistarini International – take your pick) by 6:30, well in advance of our 8:30 take-off time. They broke the news to us that there was a delay, and that departure would be at 11:20. Disappointing news but our travel had been pretty much issue-free until now. I suppose we were due a hitch. We took comfort in the fact that we had access to the lounge and could relax with a spot of breakfast and a cup of tea. We also found out that Latam Airlines had just sent us an email advising us of the delay. Too late for us to have longer in bed this morning, but never mind.

We got chatting with a fellow passenger. He was a lawyer who now acted as an international arbitrator in contractual disputes and he was off to Lima to adjudicate on a municipal public transport contract. It was he who dropped the bombshell that the plane we were due to catch had not yet left Lima on its inward bound journey. Given that this was a 5 hour flight, I couldn’t help thinking this was bad news. I had the cunning idea to check Lima departures and discovered that the plane had in fact just taken to the air and was due to land in BA at 13:30. At the same time, we received another email confirming a departure time for us of 15:20.

On the off chance, I checked my travel insurance policy for flight delays. Sadly, they don’t start giving us money until we experience a 12 hour delay. Ishbel and I took turns amusing ourselves by walking the length of the terminal and browsing the duty free stores. I will soon need a replacement for what Ishbel calls my smelly stuff – Chanel Allure pour Homme. Surely I’ll get a good price duty free in Argentina? No. It’s 50% more expensive than in the UK. I’ll wait.

After a couple of episodes of aimless window shopping, and lunch, we finally got the call to board. We left at the adjusted time of 15:20 and landed five hours later, although the two hour time difference meant we were on the ground at 18:20 Peruvian time. We were in seats 1A and 1C and power walked through the airport to be first to arrive at an empty immigration counter, so whizzed through the formalities there. Peru is the first place we’ve been on this trip that didn’t require us to fill in any kind of landing card or custom declaration so we just showed the passports and strolled on through to baggage reclaim. We had a ten minute wait there for bags to start rolling off and ours duly arrived shortly thereafter.

We trotted outside to be greeted once more by a visible lack of hotel driver. Our Argentina experience had reduced my sangfroid about such eventualities to near zero so I started furiously tapping away on email to enquire as to his whereabouts when a large card hove into view bearing the legend “LEDDY”. Excellent. We packed everything in – even the dobro fit into the boot this time. For the past couple of journeys it has been occupying the front passenger seat.

We arrived at our hotel – Huaca Wasi. This is a lovely little boutique hotel in the Miraflores district of Lima. My advance reading on this part of the trip had created the expectation that Lima hadn’t improved all that much from the time a few years ago when it was the most dangerous city in South America. I had picked this area deliberately as it seemed to be one of the safest around. After checking in and unpacking, we took a short walk around the area and it certainly felt pretty safe. We grabbed a late supper at a place called El Enano, which was a dining counter on a corner.

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But it was getting late by this time and we’d had a long day, so we decided to save more extensive exploration for the daylight hours. ¬†We headed back to the hotel and called it a night.