Monday, January 08, 2007

Night 1: Lima

And the trip begins. Jay and I meet at Penn Station and catch the NJ Transit train to Newark Airport. When we get to the terminal, we're directed to a long line leading up to a row of about 10 check-in desks. Number of people staffing the desks? Two.

It doesn't help that at one of the desks, a family decides now is the perfect time to repack their suitcase. We all wait while they move socks from one bag to another.

Traveler's Tip: Arrive 2 hours before your flight when traveling internationally, because other people are slow idiots and the airport is ridiculously understaffed

Meanwhile, Jay comments on the absurdity of the woman "sweeping up" the terminal floor. She's got a little dustpan and a broom, and appears to be sweeping up absolutely nothing. Geez. Promote the woman and put her behind one of the check-in desks so we can get to our gate already!

Turns out we had no need to rush. We sit on the plane for over an hour before it takes off. We were supposed to get into Lima around 11 PM. Now its looking like midnight. Well, straight to bed for us when we get to Peru... right??

Flight's pretty uneventful. We arrive, take some pictures in front of the "Welcome To Peru" sign. None of which later come out.

We've read all the warnings in the guidebook about not trusting cabs that pick you up outside the airport in Peru. So when we're approached by an official looking person in the terminal who asks if we have a hotel and if need a cab, we follow them. They set us up with a nice cabbie, who offers to drive us to our hostel for the discount price of $20. He'll even pick us up for our flight to Cusco the next day, at 3:30 am! What a nice guy!

Traveler's Tip: Cabs from the Lima Airport to the Inka Lodge Hostel cost 35 soles (peruvian currency)... about $11.75.

We get to our hostel at 1 am. It looks a little sketchy from the outside, and we wonder how it could have been rated #2 hostel in South America. There's no sign, and you need to hit the doorbell and be buzzed in. But then we're greeted warmly by the owner, a nice little gray haired man who looks as if he's in his mid-sixties. The place is clean, we have a huge private double room, cable TV and air conditioning. Internet is free. Not too shabby for $12 dollars each a night.

I go online briefly, and write the following entry:

Jay and I have arrived safely in our hostel in Lima, Peru. We have a day here, manana, and then we fly to Cusco. We either booked a taxi for Saturday´s return to the airport, or agreed to have our organs removed. We think (hope) it´s the first thing. Our Spanish is improving with every minute (¨minuto¨ in espanol).

More to come. Stay tuned
Immediately after... me and Jay decide, "What the hell, its our first night in Peru... lets get a drink." We ask the man at the hostel where to go. We vaguely understand his instructions and head off.

That's when things get interesting...

We walk a few blocks and spy the Hotel Doubletree. Through the windows we can see a bunch of Peruvians dancing and drinking, looks like a fun party. We figure it's a wedding celebration or something. We decide to go in.

We head up to the bar on the balcony overlooking the party, order some cervesas and some appetizers, fried yucca (a type of potato) and some fried cheese. Just as we're stuffing our faces, one of the girls on the floor below starts looking up at Jay. Jay gives her a little wave. She motions for him to come down. Another girl comes over and waves at us too.

Me: "Jay, we should go down there."

Jay: "You think?"

Me: "We're on vacation, we're in Peru, anything goes."

Jay: "Ok, but lets finish the yucca first."

We head down, and the girls introduce themselves as Mabel and Daniella. Mabel speaks great English, and explains that this is her company Christmas party. She works for a large international phone company, fielding customer calls from Spanish speaking countries. Mabel and Daniella then proceed to introduce us to every single one of their coworkers.

"Can you imagine if you're at your company Christmas party, and these girls you work with introduce these strange foreigners to everybody?" Jay says.

I agree it's a little odd. But, as we came to find out, Peru is a very friendly country.

"Would you like to dance?" Mabel asks me.


We all head out to the dance floor, which plays about half a song before the DJ calls it quits for the night. "We could go somewhere else to dance," Mabel says.

"Why not," me and Jay say, almost simultaneously.

After saying goodbye to everyone we just met, we follow Daniella and Mabel out. They just have to call their parents first. We stand on the street by a pay phone. Given the stereotypes of South America, me and Jay are pretty sure things can't possibly be going this well, and that we're certain to be drugged and kidnapped, only to wake up hours later in an icy bathtub with missing kidneys. But, fortunately for us, the girls lead us to a busy bar and club lined street and take us into a salsa club. We order some beer, dance some salsa, and eventually leave only when the music stops around 4 am. We kiss the girls goodnight, me and Jay stumble back to the hostel,
hit the doorbell, wake up the poor old hostel manager at 4:15 am, and collapse into bed.

It's only night one, and me and Jay already have Peruvian girlfriends.

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What a country!!

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