As promised, pictures and anecdotes about my trip to Peru! It’s our 25th anniversary in August. The Peru trip was our early celebration.
Why Peru, you ask? Primarily, it was on the dh’s bucket list. He’s always wanted to see Machu Picchu, and I figured if we were flying all that way, we might as well spend a solid length of time (3 weeks) and explore more than the ancient Inca sanctuary. Sounds like a plan, no?
Second, my parents did a ton—and I mean a TON—of traveling when I, my brother and sisters were in our teens. My father’s job prevented him from working every spring. The ground is too soft for logging machinery. That time of year is called “break up.” So when we were teenagers, every year they’d fly off somewhere without us—for 4-8 weeks! My paternal grandparents lived next door and were assigned with the task of taking care of us. They were wonderful grandparents! (This was the same grandfather who lived to 106). But they grew up on farms and they raised their children on farms, and farm kids know how to take care of themselves (if you can milk a cow and shoot a gopher and crawl eighteen miles in five-foot-deep snow uphill both ways to school at 5 a.m, you’ve got it made). So it only makes sense that children raised by kids raised on farms should know how to take care of themselves, too, right? My grandparents were there “if we needed them.” And we needed them every Saturday, to drive us to the store to bulk up on groceries. Otherwise, we took care of ourselves.
Grocery Tip: If you buy too much fruit for the week, DON’T put the bananas in the deep freeze thinking you can take them out in five days and they’ll be fresh. They’ll turn black within the hour.
See what all my parents’ traveling taught me?
Viewing pictures of their travels also exposed me to what the world had to offer. My parents went to Peru in the mid-Seventies. There were a handful of tourists at Machu Picchu the day they were there. Now it and other specific areas are what I call “Peruvian Disneyland.” Especially when the huge tour bus groups arrive. More on that as my tales progress.
Note: We flew to Peru on airmiles. You know what happens when you fly somewhere on airmiles, right? Especially when you’re starting from small town, Canada and you only book the flight 6 months in advance. Altogether now: “You get crappy flights.”
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate that it only took me 6 years to save up enough travel miles to fly My Liege and myself from small town B.C. to Lima and back again. Wait, as it turned out, I didn’t have enough travel miles to fly from B.C. to Lima and back. I was short by a few hundred. I did, however, have enough travel miles to fly from Alberta to Lima and back. So my mother, bless her heart (and I don’t mean that in the Southern way), donated enough travel miles to get us from small town B.C. to Calgary, Alberta. Then our travel miles took us from Calgary to Lima. I was so proud.
We left on a Saturday afternoon and had to overnight in Calgary, so we chose the Calgary Delta Airport hotel. It’s right in the airport, and we had to get up at 4 a.m. on Sunday to catch our flight to Houston and then Lima. I would totally recommend doing this, and I would do it again. I didn’t want to worry about even catching a shuttle to the airport. I wanted to just be there.
Cue an early rising Sunday morning on Eldest Son’s 22nd birthday. Sorry, E.S., hope it was a good one! At the airline counter, we decided to do the self check-in. Rather, an official-looking man was standing nearby and encouraged us to use the self check-in. The previous night, My Liege said, “If we get an opportunity to upgrade to First Class for less than $100 each, we’re doing it.” He’s traveled a lot for work and knows what he’s talking about. Plus, he hates getting squished by rude people in coach. Well, I guess he didn’t get much sleep, because as we stood there wading through the computer self check-in, at one point the program asked, “Would you like to upgrade to First Class for $79 each?” My dh looked at me, and I said, “Kinda defeats the point of using airmiles, doesn’t it?”
I thought no matter what I said M.L. would check YES, UPGRADE US TO FIRST CLASS. WE WOULD HAVE PAID $100. But he clicked, NO. Only after we’d sent our bags on their way and were ensconced in the waiting area with huge Starbucks cups did we truly realize the error. By then, it was too late. The First Class seats with all that extra room were taken. And not once during any other leg of the trip were we offered another chance to travel First Class—unless we wanted to pay $1700, I kid you not. That’ll teach us.
Travel Tip: If you and your husband agree that you WILL upgrade to First Class for a very reasonable price, if given the opportunity, try to prevent his sleep-deprived self from taking your wit seriously and clicking NO.
I don’t mind traveling coach. I always travel coach. Have only gone First Class once, an upgrade on a trip to Las Vegas. But these were looooooong flights. A 6-hour flight from Calgary to Houston, a 3-hour layover, and then another 6-hour flight from Houston to Lima. Plus, needing to get to the airport 3 hours early for whatever reason. They always want you there earlier than a liquified grasshopper.
But we went coach and had a good row partner, so all was fine.
Then we got to Houston. A 3-hour layover sounded decent. We could go through U.S. Customs, complain about the fact that Canadians are now only allowed one carry-on despite that we weren’t staying in the States, just passing through; get something to eat, and stock up on English reading material. But the 3-hour layover stretched to 8! Yes, 8. Apparently, our plane was “broken.” Yes, that’s what the man at the desk told me. Some kind of mechanical failure. And another plane wasn’t available for 8 hours.
Spending 8 hours in the Houston airport reminded me of that movie with Tom Hanks where he was forced to live in an airport for an ungodly length of time. Tom seemed to make out okay in the movie, but I wonder if the real live person he played went insane? I learned I couldn’t stand to live in an airport for two days, let alone over a year. The bookstores were nice, and the Panda Express was great, but come on!
By the time we got into Lima, it was 4 a.m. So much for arriving at 11 p.m. and getting a good night’s sleep. Gah, now that I think about it, we rose at 4 a.m. on Sunday and arrived at 4 a.m. Monday. Even now, that sounds exhausting. But! Our driver was there to pick us up. We’d booked into Casa Bella B&B in the San Isidro section of Lima (I found it on www.tripadvisor.com and then later realized it was also recommended in my Frommer’s.) They said they’d keep an eye on flight changes for us and would be there no matter when we arrived, and they weren’t lying. We were so glad to see our driver. Especially because, being raised in Canada when French was the only option for a second language in high school, we didn’t know a lick of Spanish. I’d bought Levels 1-3 of a popular language learning software, but M.L., ahem, lost disc 1 several months before our trip. I emailed my father in the winter in Mexico, because I knew he also had the software. Turns out he, ahem, had lost his disc 1, too! Men! I finally broke down and purchased a second copy of level 1. It arrived 2 weeks before our trip and we were both too busy to attempt it.
Travel Tip: If you buy language learning software, for Pete’s sake, take the time to LEARN language learning software. If you’re buying it for your husband, keep track of every time he uses it! Lock up disc 1 somewhere he can’t find it and require him to sign it out for periodic use. Threaten whipping if it goes missing. If you’re feeling rebellious about the remaining two weeks before your trip and only have time to learn the words for dog and horse and ball and airplane, at the very least pick up a handy-dandy English-Spanish (Latin America) phrasebook. I recommend the Lonely Planet series.
Being the brilliant sort that I am, I did the latter. M.L. stole my pocket-sized phrasebook the moment we landed in Lima and held it hostage until we left Peru three weeks later. But that was okay. I took a lot more French in high school than he did, and I helped one of our sons with his French in school, as well. If you don’t know a lick of Spanish, knowing a bit of French is the next best thing. The languages are similar, as it turns out. Similar roots, anyway. It really helped.
All right, all right, I know you want pictures! I know you’re feeling mighty ripped off at this point, but you’re only getting one picture today. I couldn’t record my Peru trip for posterity without including our 24 hours of travel (not counting the flight to Calgary the previous day).
I know my hair’s a mess. Don’t judge me! It’s 4:30 a.m.! This is M.L. and me in our room at Casa Bella B&B. Ain’t we sweet?