Peru, Day One (July 12, 2009)

It's official. I am the jinx. On my first visit to Peru, a transportation strike forced us to bribe our way out of the country. Coming back from Cambodia, the passport computers died, so we were stuck on the runway for 4 hours and then had to sleep on the floor of LAX with 10,000 of our closest friends. In Paris this March, a bomb scare closed our terminal. And now this.

Ferocious thunderstorms kept us on the taxiway in Atlanta for 3 hours last night. We arrived at the Lima gate in Miami at 11:30p for our 11:35 flight, but the cow at the American Airlines counter refused to let us board, even though the flight was grounded until 12:20. It was total chaos. My professor was stranded in D.C., so I was on my own and more than a little unsettled.

Those of us who were refused passage ran to the Customer Service counter only to find that AA doesn't take responsibility for bad weather. It didn't take long to bond under the circumstances, and soon I was friends with a married couple and a mother & daughter from Peru, an elderly woman from Brazil, and an attorney from Bolivia. We talked our way into "Distressed Passenger" vouchers for nearby hotels and headed toward the airport shuttle together.

Even though we all received vouchers, they were inexplicably for different hotels; but we decided to stick together and help one another out of the mess. The Senora from Brazil was particularly befuddled by the situation since she spoke neither Spanish nor English, and we refused to leave her at the airport alone. The attorney sweettalked our shuttle driver into dropping her off at the Wyndham even though the driver worked for the Regency. My voucher for the Regency was the best deal, so I convinced the concierge to give the same discount to the rest of the travellers. I let everyone use my U.S. cell phone to notify relatives, and they used their Peruvian cell phone to notify my hotel in Lima.

Everyone helped in whatever way they could, and pretty soon, panic gave way to laughter, and the friendly conversation put everyone at ease. Turns out, the attorney is the grandson of Teresa Gisbert and Jose de Mesa, who were among the first to document the art and archaeology of Bolivia. It's a wild, interesting little world we live in.

So thanks to Patricia, Manuel, Juan, Teresa, and Maria for reminding me that you can still depend on the kindness of strangers. Now, if I could just depend on American Airlines to deliver my missing backpack to Lima in the morning!


Annie said...

I'm torn - would love to travel with you as you have such adventures; then again, because you have such adventures, we might never get off the ground. The irony .. :)

Really enjoying your blog!

Jenn said...

Ah, but that´s all part of the fun!

Miss you guys and can´t wait to ride again. I poured through all those cycling mags while trapped in Miami. I see a century in our future.