In the days leading up to leaving Peru, there was a lot of rain, and I found it much more interesting to play Stardew Valley on my iPad, than to go out and do things.
After 140 days in Peru, I was rather excited to be changing countries again. I have determined that more than 90 days in one country is too long for me, despite now nice the country is. It didn’t help that there had been so much rain throughout February and into March.
Going from country to country is getting to be a comfortable routine nowadays. I didn’t do a lot of running around doing things for one last time, since the plan was to return to Peru in September.
The day before I was to leave I contacted the landlady and told her when I would be leaving and asked her to arrange for a taxi to the airport. She told me that there was no need for a taxi. Her brother would take me to the airport. When we left the house, he commented again on how little luggage I was carrying, though it was the forth time he had seen me carrying my bags in and out of the apartment.
At the airport, just as we were saying our goodbyes it started to rain. The airport in Arequipa is small, so it didn’t take long for me to make my way to the lounge and settle in to wait for my flight. Lucky for me I wasn’t near a window, so I couldn’t see the weather closing in and to spend all the wait time worrying.
For the days leading up to my flight I had been watching the airport’s website and no flights had been canceled due to the weather. I was sure I would be getting out okay. But to make sure I contacted my business manager and had him monitoring the weather, as I waited.
There were a lot of people waiting for the flight, so I was rather surprised when only a few of us were boarded. Once we were seated, they filled part of the rest of the plane with standbys. They seemed to all be miners. Most of them had hard hats hanging off their carryons.
As I waited for the flight to take off, I looked out the window and watched as the clouds settled lower. My business manager texted me letting me know that my flight was still secluded to take off. We texted back and forth about the fact that the flight had quite a few people despite the fears of the Corona virus. No one was calling it Covid19 yet.
I was rather worried that the miners were going to be noisy for the whole flight, since they came in excited and chattering. I guess it was only normal. They reminded me of the oilfield workers heading home after 28 day shifts. Even with the addition of the standbys the plane was pretty empty, so a lot of the men who had been near me scattered out to the rest of the plane.
I needn’t have worried, about the chattering men. As soon as the plane got aloft the cabin lights were turned way down and and the heat was turned up. Most all the men went to sleep. I guess the airline knows how to handle the regular migration of workers, who are very excited to get home.
I dozed off myself and was soon in Lima. After my flight delays coming back from Ecuador I was pretty familiar with the airport. I went to a restaurant which is covered by the Priority Pass to have a somewhat late diner. Looking over the menu I thought the prices were reasonable, until I realized they were in USD. Lucky the amount of my bill was just under the amount the Priority Pass covered. My waitress made sure she pointed out that the PP didn’t over the tip. I thought this was pretty funny since, tipping isn’t a thing in Peru. I guess the folks who deal with Americans have gotten used to getting tips. I had a few leftover soles so I tipped her with them.
I had made the mistake of speaking to the American man setting next to me and got harangued for my whole meal with tales of his ‘problems’. After he wound down I pointed out that my last flight delay was 40 hours, much of which I spent on the airport floor. I pointed out that I considered it just another interesting experience. He wasn’t amused.
Despite the talkative man and the high prices, the meal was very good and I enjoyed it a lot. Since I had used my Priority Pass for the restaurant I was worried that they wouldn’t let me use the lounge as well, but there was no trouble getting in. The only nod to the looming pandemic was hand sanitizer at the checkin desk.
I still don’t like the international lounge in Lima, which I had access to. It is too big, too crowded, and the staff seem overworked and harried. By the time I had had my meal, I didn’t have that much longer to my flight. I had gone through passport control before dinner, so all I had to do was head to my gate when it was time for my flight.
I found a good seat where I could see the flight status board and got all my electronics plugged in. I was facing quite a few flights in the next 24 hours, so I wanted to make sure I had lots of juice. When I got everything set up, I headed to the bar and got a my complementary drink. When I got it back to my seat and took I good look at it, I realized it was undrinkable. I took it back to the bar set it down and and told the bartender what I thought of it. I walked off without letting him mix me another one. I hadn’t liked his attitude the first time I spoke with him.
Once settled into my seat, I was back playing Stardew Valley. I hate to say it, but my lack of blogging lately has as much to do with that game as my various travels. Luckily I looked up at one point and realized that my flight was leaving an hour earlier than I thought it was scheduled for.
I packed up all my stuff and scampered to the gate, only to find that the gate had been changed. I dashed to new gate and was glad to see that departure was delayed. I wasn’t glad that it was because the passengers on the incoming flight had to go through a medical check and the plane had to be disinfected before we got on. I was beginning to realize that this virus thing might be a bit more worrying than SARS.
Once on the plane, I realized that I had never taken a photo of how I use the strap of my carryon to make it easy to get ahold of the bag without taking off my seat belt. I unclip one end of the strap and clip it to the back of the seat pocket, so I can use it to haul the bag out to where I can grab the handles. The bag has a slippery finish, that lets it slip under and out from the seat with ease. The strap is long, so I loop the extra into the pocket.
Though the flight out of Lima was delayed, I still made my connection in DFW. The airline had our boarding passes waiting for us as we deplaned. I had a similarly close connection in Phoenix. When I got to the gate in Phoenix, the attendant asked me what flight I had come in on. I told, her but pointed out that I ran across the airport, so the others on that flight would be far behind me.
The flight to Honolulu was strange in that it wasn’t full, and most of the passengers were locals. With all the delays and rushing around I hadn’t realized that the general panic over the pandemic was building. I did notice that folks were looking at me askance when I was sneezing and coughing. I had to keep telling people that I wasn’t sick, I am allergic to hand sanitizer and people on the planes were dousing their seats and tray tables with it. Silly me, I though it was for your hands.
The flights I had with American were all so good, it really changed my mind about flying the airline. I had stopped flying American back in 2006 due to the port service. They have really changed.
My trip to Honolulu was for my yearly visit to see my banker, CPA, and all my doctors. In addition to that, I was scheduled to have my storage unit cleared out and my stuff shipped to Texas. I pass through Texas more often than Hawaii, nowadays, so it will be more convent for me, not to mention the monetary savings. I had a little bit of a scare the morning I was to meet with the movers. The moving company had canceled all the military household goods moves, and a call was made to me by mistake. Private moves were still on.
After seeing my stuff off, I got to do my banking, visit my CPAs office before things started shutting down. On my way home from the bank it started to rain like I hadn’t seen it rain in Honolulu since 2005. Trudging though the rain, barely sheltered by my small umbrella, wishing that I had taken the big one from the storage unit, I found myself outside the Original Pancake House. Nothing like being wet and miserable to make you want to indulge in comfort food.
I was scheduled to be in Honolulu for two weeks, but after I had been there a few days, my doctors started contacting me and canceling appointments. On the day I had my hair cut, I was walked around the nearly empty city streets and realized that I really should try to get off the island. It was two weeks until my scheduled flight to Mexico. I quickly went on Price line and booked a car and a hotel room for the two weeks in Houston. Since so many people had canceled their travel plans, I had no trouble getting a flight out that night.
My flight was for late evening so by the time I left for the airport the rains had started up again. My Lyft driver was a Russian woman who was quite delightful. Everything seemed pretty normal until I got to the airport and saw how few people were around. I kept getting lost looking for the lounge. I really don’t like the way they are changing the airport. Sure they are making it bigger and more convent, but they have taken away all its charm.
I was sitting in the lounge drinking beer, when I called my boarding pass up on my phone and noticed that the flight number and departure time were changed. It turned out that my flight to LAX had been canceled and they put me on a much earlier flight to SFO. I downed my beer and rushed off to my new flight.
SFO was a ghost town as well, and the lounges and all the restaurants were closed. I was glad that my friend in Honolulu had bought me some snacks for the plane. They came in very handy for my layover.
There were only 13 passengers on the flight. Seven were in first class, and the rest of us were scattered around the rest of the plane. The flight attendants told us if we needed anything just to press the call button as they wouldn’t be walking the aisle.
The only good thing about being booked on a earlier flight, was that I got into Houston a reasonable hour. By the time I arrived, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to make it down to Mexico, so I had better come up with a plan B.
Unfortunately the hotel I booked in, was hands down the worst room in the worst hotel I have ever been in. You have to understand that I have lived in flop houses in my poverty ridden days, and this was worse. I was really shocked. I have stayed in InTown Suits many times before and have always found them clean, safe, and affordable. This one wasn’t any where near being like the ones I had stayed in before.
I had made the mistake of booking through Priceline, so I was out a week’s rent on the room. When I left the folks who worked there said that they would try to get my money refunded, but I knew that they wouldn’t be able to do that. I will never ever, book with Priceline again. I had also booked a two week rental car, which I was stuck with after a good friend said I could borrow his truck.
I had to spend one night in that horrible room before I was able to book an Airbnb in the Montrose area of Houston. It was pretty far away from where I wanted to be, but the closest one I could get for a price I could afford. It turned out to be a lucky turn of fate. This is a great area of town.
In the next post, I will write about life trapped in Texas.