Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Getting there... again

So what would any decent holiday be without just about killing yourself tidying the house, running around doing last minute errands and packing?

And then there is the pulling over to think about whether this or that got included in the bags… turn around… and then say forget it and turn around again? 

Anyhoo, traffic was cooperative and so there was no missing of the boat, so to speak.  BTW, the kiosk at Duke Point sells REALLY GOOD banana bread.. 

The waters were calm, and the ride to Whiterock uneventful.  As usual had a wonderful visit with Martha made even better by homemade squash and yam soup.  Comfy bed for the night and off to the airport we did go.  In what seems to be my standard practice lately I remembered the details of the flight incorrectly which added another hour to the pre-flight wait (which is of course better than the other alternative…) 

The itinerary:  Vancouver to Los Angeles, with a transfer to a LAN flight to Lima.  The nice lady at the check in counter assured us that we need not worry about our bags as we were checked all the way through… which was not altogether true.  Note to self… send Alaskan Airlines scathing email.  Why?  Well read on and see.

Boarding pass in hand it was time to clear US Customs (should have been the first clue) and Immigration, and through the security screening.  Spent the next couple of hours perusing the various shops and picked up some gifts for friends in Chachapoyas.  Took off uneventfully, and views of snow draped mountains gave way to green and then brown as the land below became warmer and dryer.    
Up next was a 5 hour lay over, plus the extra 35 minutes that a strong tail wind gifted. 

The weather was absolutely, perfectly hot and sunny and I thought why not get outside for some fresh air?  After a lengthy search I finally found a tiny information booth tucked into wall, where a very nice lady seemed taken aback by my query as to a nearby spot to spend a couple of hours outside.   You know, away from the airport?  Well, she says, there are a couple of spots an hour or so away, but given the Sunday traffic and price of a cab ride her recommendation is to stay here and wait. 


Disappointed, but not daunted, I went outside to hunt down an elusive revolving restaurant where I was promised a good view and meal.  And found myself in airport hell.  When I posted that LAX is the armpit of American airports I was not kidding.  There are 6 terminals in addition to the International terminal, multiple lanes of bumper to bumper traffic fighting for space to deposit and pick up people, whole sidewalk areas blocked off for construction.  No signage, nobody around to ask for directions, people packed on the sidewalk smoking… There was no order… and god knows we Canadians prefer order.  

The revolving restaurant is called “Encounter” and is modeled after the Starship Enterprise lounge.  Located atop a tower built in the centre of the circle of Airport Terminals, it is at the moment surrounded by construction.  Walking past four terminals I finally found a way to get to the entrance, and the elevator doors swished open upon approach.  Nifty.  Upstairs was a funky restaurant with a great view of the terminals and road approaches.  One very expensive dinner later, it was off to relocate the International Departures terminal and head for the plane. 

I wait in a very long line and then dutifully place my backpack, boots, jacket and laptop on the security belt, and as is my usual custom asked to forgo the human X-ray tube for a pat down.  FEMALE ASSIST shouts the security sentinel.  Wait.  FEMALE ASSIST is shouted again.  Some 10 minutes later a very polite woman beckoned me over, explained I was to be patted down, asked me if I have any tender areas she should take into account (does whole body count, I wonder?) and proceeded to do her thing.  No biggy. 

And this is where we come to the Alaska Airlines super grumble.  A waiting security screener tells me I have contraband liquids that I can either take back to LAN for check in or have him dispose of.  What goods I ask, bewildered.  Well the very expensive Maple Syrup I had purchased in the Airport Duty Free shop as a gift for my friends, of course.  Never entered my head not to buy it because my bags were checked straight through and I was not told that I would have to repass security.  I had forgotten all about it… go out, pay extra baggage charges and then have to go through security again?  I think not.  I was really, supremely choked to see it put into the garbage. 

With lots of time to spare I was directed around the corner to the gates… and to my utter surprise there was nothing to do.  Where were all the departure shops and cafĂ©’s found in airports around the world?  On the other side of security.  I mean really, one can only stare at their navel for so long, right?  What a Joke. 

Second Leg of the Journey started with the longest lineup I have ever seen of people in wheelchairs for pre-boarding.  Little old ladies mostly, and after them loaded the small children ensembles, thereby ensuring that our already late flight (of course) left even later.  Bye bye LAX.

Crazy, Awful Airport.  Never Again.

LAN provided what appeared to be a brand spanking new airplane, which was a pleasant surprise.  Confusing was the voice of the flight attendant speaking English with such a heavy asian accent that I actually understood the Spanish version better.  There was an incredible selection of entertainment options on the screens built into the back of the seats, and given it was to be a looooong flight I was happy to see this.

Sleep often escapes me when I fly and this red-eye flight was not exception. Several movies, Battleship games and music albums kept me company during what was a very turbulent flight.  Even the flight attendants gave up and turned back service several times. 

With the morning sun came a cloudy ocean view, giving way to a great view of the coastal mountains of Peru.  The mountains and scrub baked brown, the waters lapping the coast, the sand hills and bluffs.  I have never flown in from abroad during daylight, and was gifted with, and enchanted to see the glacier-peaked high trekking inland mountains peeking through the clouds in the distance.      

Enjoyed an easy customs clearance, baggage retrieval and prompt taxi pick up.  Morning rush hour was in full swing meaning a long and loud commute to Miraflores.  The friendly staff at Hostal El Patio (my preferred Lima digs) let me stow my bags until the room was ready, and I wandered off in search of a good cup of coffee.  Stopped to pick up a few specialty chocolates to thank a staff member for a room change and making sure that it was at the top of the cleaning list so it would be ready sooner  Made a reservation for an afternoon tour and then headed back to El Patio for a much needed shower and snooze.

And that is where I will leave off for today.  I am a couple of days behind, so will try and post again tonight.  Off to enjoy the evening sun and sunset.

No comments:

Post a Comment