We made it to Lima and so did our 13 checked bags! We were a little concerned about the bags when our flight out of Milwaukee was delayed, which reduced our connection time in Atlanta to about a half hour. We sprinted for our flight and weren’t sure whether our bags would make it, but they all did.
Where’s Kerry? Find me waiting with 4 of our 5 carts as Matt stood in line!
We went to the magic button before the customs gate and… Denied. The light turned red (no surprise given all of our luggage) so we had to take all the bags off the carts and put them on another screening conveyor. But that was it. No opening bags, extra charges or questions. So really pretty easy except on our backs.
After about 2 hours we were finally in the greeting area of the airport. Our driver, Mario, was waiting and was a very nice guy. We hired a porter (who had a larger cart) so we set off for Mario’s van each with only one cart; a vast improvement to Matt and I trying to maneuver 5 carts! As we hit the parking lot I noticed a younger guy eying us up. He followed us a bit and then veered off, but sure enough, just as we start unloading our carts (and would presumably be distracted) he reappeared. I have him a hostile stare and told him to go away. He did, but it was a good reminder to be vigilant.
Then the real fun began- cargo city. We needed to go here to drop off our bags to be cargo shipped to Cajamarca, our final destination. What a scene. It was 12:30 in the night and the place was hopping. We pulled up to a loading dock and I stayed in van while Matt and Mario went to the counter. Matt did his best, but finally had Mario come get me so I could assist. I wasn’t much help and eventually the employee asked the guy next to us to help us with the form. I’m not sure what he did besides re-write the information we had written but apparently she could read his handwriting and not Matt’s. His assistance became our theme for the next two hours – everyone helped us and tried to explain to the
dumb Americans what we needed to do. Which was: load everything on a single pallet and put our shipping labels on each box only to then unload it all onto a conveyor belt after I pushed our receipt through a little slot! We understood that it was all going to be weighed “in back” somewhere, but weren’t sure how we would know when it was done!
After our bags were gone for awhile and we stood there (Mario had gone to move the van so we were on our own by this point, apart from our new friends who I think found us amusing) a guy called us to the door to explain our suitcases needed to be plastic wrapped. Once we understood he waved Matt out so I was in back trying to figure out how I was supposed to shrink wrap my bags! Ultimately, he called over another guy from the loading dock who said he would do it for me for $20. Sold! Scam? Maybe in part, although other people’s items that weren’t in perfect boxes were all shrink wrapped, but it was all so funny and I got to hang out in the cool restricted area (people who came and went were actually frisked although we were spared that treatment) that 20 bucks seemed like a deal! After I was gone about 10 minutes, Matt came in to find me as he was getting a little concerned and found me and two other guys watching a third guy wrap our bags. After some final confusion as to where to pay (upstairs, down a hallway) and experiencing our first rejection of apparently non-pristine bills, we were on our way to the hotel at 2:30 am! Mario was a slow driver and had a bit of trouble finding the hotel, but it we made it there, tipped him well for our evening’s adventure, and finally collapsed at about 3:30! We fly to Cajamarca today at 3:30 and hope our cargo will be there as well. Things have gone really well considering the undertaking, so we hope the good energy continues.
Side note on the money: Peruvians want American money but will only take currency in perfect condition. We had taken out money from our bank at home and it looked good to us, but two bills were rejected. One for a minuscule tear and one because the crease had worn out Ben Franklin’s face too much for the clerk’s liking. Peruvians also want cash and not credit cards, so that will take some getting used to for us.
Final note on Peruvians. Very nice! People were helpful, friendly, not in a rush, let us skip ahead in line; clerks didn’t get impatient. While there is no American efficiency, nor is there the constant rush. I imagine this pace will drive us crazy at some point, but when we are the hold up, a slower pace and time to understand things are nice.