And so that’s it. After finishing up at work last week, then cleaning the house and leaving London on Sunday, and a few days back in Southport with the family that passed all too quickly, we’re finally off on our big South American adventure. I feel moderately underprepared, but we’ve got a wallet full of plastic, a flight ticket home in September (we just have to get several thousand miles across the continent to Sao Paulo to use it…) and a bed to sleep in tonight, so I’m sure it will all be fine.
As I write these words in my notebook–words that I hope to be able to transfer onto the interwebs when time and connectivity allow–it’s Thursday 22nd, and we’re currently, as the captain and the sky map have just informed me, “overflying the city of Manchester”. Which is ironic, really, given that that’s where our convoluted Manchester – Frankfurt, Frankfurt – Caracas, Caracas – Lima itinerary started several hours ago. We’ve spent a couple of hours in the slightly shabby Frankfurt airport, eaten some bad airport and airline food, and now we’re back where we began, albeit several thousand feet higher than we were when my dad dropped us off in the early hours of this morning…
We eventually got to Lima late on Thursday night, where there was a man with a board with my name on it waiting to take us to our home for the next couple of nights. The clock on my phone, which was still in UK time, told me that we’d been up for almost 24 hours. We managed a couple of beers in the hostel bar and a toasted sandwich before heading to bed.
Today we decided to take things easy, with a relatively late start and no real plans, beyond working out what we’re doing for the next few days and recovering from our day on the plane.
After Lima, which we’re hoping to leave shortly, we thought we might go to a place called Chincha, a few hours down the coast, so we jumped on the internet to try and book into a hotel that had been recommended by a blog Sal had read. Unfortunately the enquiry form on the hotel’s website didn’t seem to be working. No matter, we thought, as we took down the phone number and went off to ask the guys in reception. “Why do you want to go there?” they said, when we told them of our plans. “Um. I dunno. Someone recommended it?” I suggested as we went off to the phone with the phonecard they’d just sold us to give the place a call… We started to get the idea that maybe this wasn’t meant to be when the phone number of the hotel’s Lima office produced just a message in Spanish telling me that there was in fact no such number, and the local number produced only a message in Spanish telling me that I had to phone a new number… and that number produced only another message in Spanish telling me that it also didn’t exist.
Ah! I spotted in the Lonely Planet that their Lima office is just down the road from our hostel in Miraflores, so off we went in a cab to have a bit of a wander around the area and see if we could book it from there.
The second indication that maybe we wouldn’t be staying in Chincha was when their Lima office turned out to be little more than a private house with nobody home. We gave up and wandered off to the beach to drink some very expensive drinks at a restaurant looking out to the Pacific.
The third indication that maybe we wouldn’t be staying in Chincha was when we returned to the hostel to try the internet again. This time a bit of calculated googling produced the information that the hotel is in fact closed until 2009 for repairs following last year’s earthquake. Oops.
We booked a bus ticket to Ica instead.