I didn’t have to get up at Stupid O’clock for this trip, but the lack of sleep due to preparations at home and work made me feel like it. Mom came to take me to the airport (THANX MOM!) perfectly on time as always.
Then she graciously waited seven minutes to let me finish watching the end of “The Sword of Kahless” as I was deep in the throes of my Deep Space Nine addiction.
I was a decade and a half out of practice flying internationally on my own, which meant I never had to do the “self-check in” solo. The kiosk decided it didn't like my credit card that day. I spent a chunk of time randomly flipping through, folding and swearing at my passport, until a helpful attendant wandered over to help me scan it.
Then I brought my previously confirmed to be under the limit luggage up to the counter and it weighed fifty one pounds.
Probably shouldn’t have thrown the scale in the bag after I weighed it, huh?
I moved the extra winter coat for Rosa from my luggage to my carry on, saving the plane the weight I sweated off trying to do that crouched down next to the counter wearing my own winter coat in July before switching hemispheres.
Finally, bag checked, I went to the security line, handed him the boarding pass that the kiosk had printed out…
And he said I couldn’t use it because the Eighties Era Fax Paper quality ticket had torn in half on the arduous walk up a half sized escalator.
I whipped a preprinted pass from home out of my back pocket and said, “How’s this one?”
He was briefly startled, grinned and replied, “That was good. That was real good.”
The back story- Due to a weird printer connection problem the night before at home, my boarding pass didn’t print when I checked in, and other stuff happened that led to multiple reboots.
The printer vomited forth a blizzard of copies and I had one in each pocket, one in my “important stuff hidey pack,” and one in every zipper of my luggage, carry on, and computer bag. The same went for medical and embassy contact information, and Peruvian phone charge codes.
I may have been a little anxious.
Up at the scanner I played the “get all my worldly possessions into three bins” game, pushing everything I was carrying (or that I was wearing but not fastened too tightly) through the scanners. Then I schlepped it all over to one side and redressed.
I had the Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide with me; figuring five novels in a single binding would fit in my bag, and be long enough for my anti-sleep-on-a-plane nature to make it all the way down.
Usually I sit by the window, to shield my wife from seeing it, or the middle, to share in my daughter’s enjoyment of it. The aisle was a new and weird experience on several levels.
Leaning on the arm rest, away from the strangers in the rest of the row, led to a giant abraded hole in my elbow, but most of the weirdness was before takeoff.
The woman sitting across from me stowed her gear up above, and then very deliberately unbuttoned her blouse before sitting down and getting under the supplied blanket. It was not in a “Hey, check out my hotness” sort of way though. It was much more of a, “Hey, we’re all going to be trapped in this flying school bus for eight hours, and I give far less of a crap about what anyone sees compared to my own comfort.”
Also, to add support while helping in the luggage stowing, the attendant sat on my shoulder for a spell.
No distractingly loud humans on the flight, but a couple of barking dogs added to the unusual atmosphere. A third of a day, or three Douglas Adams books, later, we landed in Lima.
Unlike the far shorter flights to Orlando, the long snaking line did not place me at a ride, but at immigration, where once they made me remove my hat to confirm it was not a holographic projector changing my image, I was stamped clear for entry.
After leaning on a luggage cart manufactured during the Truman administration for a hundred and fifty seven revolutions of other people’s luggage, my bags finally appeared. I stacked them and went through the “probably not a smuggler” customs route.
There was a specific cording off of the section of international arrivals from the rest of the airport, and huge numbers of Peruvian family members who came to meet travelers. This translated into those of us arriving entering the main room in a parade like atmosphere. Far be it from me to poo poo local customs, so I smiled broadly and waved to everyone.
Rosa and Anabelle happily found me, the driver helped load up the car, and I was taken groggily through the streets of Lima and Callao to the home Rosa grew up in.
That late at night, Abuelita was fast asleep, meaning we had to be extremely quiet in order to not drown out any of the war zone like barking, driving and screaming going on outside that she was accustomed to hearing.
We filled up the air mattress to finish setting up space for all three of us in the “Great Wall of Jesuses” room. In general, there was a little unpacking and a lot of hugging. A bottle must have opened and then reclipped shut in transit. Either that or we witnessed the first episode of the Adventures of the Lone Acidophilus.
I stayed up a few minutes past them to read a little more Hitchhiker’s, and then we were the most silent area in Callao.
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