That is right, Saturday, October 22, 2016 at 3:00pm we boarded a plane bound for Las Vegas.
A quick flight to Las Vegas and we were on the ground at McCarran International. A short night in Vegas, followed by a 2:45am wake up call and we were off to the airport again.
When we went to check in for our flight we encountered a small hiccup because we hadn’t yet booked our travel out of Peru. They really only want to let you in if you don’t plan on staying. 🙂 After some negotiating, explaining our plan, offering to buy fully refundable return tickets and a conversation with the manager we were allowed to check in for our flight and we were documented as traveling the continent by bus. Which honestly is our plan for the most part. This is when my anxiety began to rise and I mentioned on the way to the gate that before we enter Chile we should have a better ironed out plan for our exit of Chile so that we don’t have to rely on the good graces of the boarder patrol to get in. With just enough time to spare to get some gum and fill our water bottles before our 5:02am boarding time we were off on our next leg of the journey.
The flight to Panama was smooth. We both slept most of the 4-1/2 hour flight. Fortunately, the Panama airport seemed pretty small and we got off our plane at Gate 14 and boarded the next plane at Gate 15 so we didn’t have to sprint across the airport in the hour and 30 minutes we had on the ground.
The last flight of our journey took off from Panama at 3:40pm local time (or 1:40pm PDT). Having rested so much on the first flight we both indulged in some reading for a good portion of the 3 hour and 40 minute flight. The sun set over Peru before we landed so we didn’t have much of a view to document.
We managed to disembark and made our way to customs without issue. At customs we paused briefly to pick a line. I pointed out a couple of guys I had seen on the plane and overheard speaking English and decided we would go with the same line that they were in. We lucked out, the customs agent that processed us spoke English fairly well. We only had one misunderstanding. She asked us how long we would be staying in Peru and Steve told her 90 days. She misunderstood (I think she thought he said 19) and input that we would be here 60 days. Steve happened to catch the error and questioned it. It then turned into a back and forth of repeating what we thought was the same thing at each other until she questioned why we wanted to stay that long to which we answered to tour Peru. She then wrote out 19 at the top of our form or 90. We finally got on the same page, clearly communicated 90 days and she then input that we could stay the maximum allowed by Peruvian law without a visa which is 183 days. From there we claimed our checked bags without issue and stopped at an ATM to pull out some local currency. Thankfully we have the Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account ATM card which will refund any fees that are charged by the ATM company because it cost 18 Peruvian Nuevo Sol (about $5.36) for the ATM fee. We then moved on to the final stage of the customs process where we declared any taxable items we were bringing in, as well as animals, plants, plant products, agricultural pesticides, veterinary goods, animal food or money in excess of $10,000 and had our luggage scanned. We flew through that last hurdle with flying colors and moved on to hire a taxi. Fortunately we had the name of a trust worthy taxi service and headed straight for their desk. The gal at the desk spoke decent English but just in case we had already written down the address of where we were staying to make the process easier. We hired and paid for the taxi within a minute and were ushered out the door by our driver to his car. As we flew through the dark streets of Lima I realized there is an unspoken code and etiquette to learn if you are going to drive in Peru. You need to know when it is polite to honk (which seems most cases warrant honking), when you can simply pull over to the side of the road and stop and when you need to observe the lanes and when they are just suggestions. Honestly it wasn’t the worst taxi ride of my life. I remember several terrifying moments from when I visited Mexico in 2000. This taxi ride was a breeze in comparison. The driver found our apartment building without many issues. We were buzzed in by the friendly front desk gentleman and settled into our modest room in just a couple of minutes.
We made it folks, let the adventure begin!