So we’re off and running, well sputtering at any rate, altitude will do that to you and we’re at 3,700 metres, a far cry from Vancouver Island and sea level. The last 30 hours have been a blur. Starting with a 3:45am wake up call and a blast to the airport for a 5:55 flight, things looked good until we hit the check-in counter. Then they ground to a halt. There was an issue with overweight check-in bags, laptops in check-in bags and overweight carry-on bags. Who weighs carry-on baggage? Then again the Air Canada check-in agent, lovely girl that she was, pointed out that she was gifting us 2 extra pounds on one of the overweight bags. I guess when you spend three and a half thousand dollars on a couple of tickets you’re entitled to a couple of perks! Two whole pounds! So once the bags were done we hit our second snag. Where’s my passport? It was on the counter wasn’t it? I’m pretty sure that’s where I put it...but it wasn’t there when she asked me a second time for it. I went through my pockets four times, checked the floor, the cart and everywhere else. Nothing. Dominik looked at me and said, “Come on buddy. It has to be here somewhere.”
We scoured the entire area while the attendant watched. I was heading for a meltdown. Then, as a final thought hit me I said, “Check your pockets Dominik.”
He did.....and there it was, with his. The attendant had passed both passports back to him and he’d flipped them both into his pocket. She looked at us defensively, “Wasn’t my fault,” she stated.
The show continued at the x-ray machine where the rivets in my day old logging pants sent the ‘Wandman’ into a frenzy. He started waving his wand around like he was conducting an orchestra. Dominik said he ‘wanded’ the back of my head three times. Not sure what he was looking for there? In any case we finally made it on the plane after 45 minutes of ‘Home Shoppers Network’ on the flat screen in the holding lounge. You can buy five rings for 20 bucks...we almost bought a set.
Short flight from Nanaimo to Vamcouver, a longer flight to Toronto, then an even longer one to Lima, Peru. Things got better in Peru. We arrived at 12:30am and settled in for a 4 ½ hour layover. The fact we were in South America soon manifested itself. Posters in Spanish warning us of Ebola and immigration and customs officers that smiled at our vain efforts of Spanish summoned up a happy note. The immigration girl was marvelous. We’d only half filled our papers, she pointed at the blank lines as though she’d seen it a thousand times before, raised an eyebrow, then watched with amusement as we scratched out the rest. When we were done she gave us a knowing smile, stamped them, and shooed us into Peru. The check-in attendants in Lima were also a joy. They helped us with ready smiles and gave me a window seat on request.
The approach to Cuzco was magnificent. Sitting on the starboard side we watched the sun come up as the pilot started our final descent. As anyone that’s flown into Cuzco before knows the approach is anything but ordinary. Surrounded by mountains the pilot followed a ridge on our right, peeled off as the ridge stumbled, then followed the valley down to Cuzco. We banked to the right, the left, then right again as we tracked down the valley. It was an amazing sight looking out the window as houses passed by above our wingtips. He straightened out one last time then it was wheels down.
We recovered our bags, wheeled them out to the taxi stand where the driver doubted we could fit it all in his car. We did and we were off to the Hotel Cuzco Plaza II, a 15 minute ride.
We’d been in cars, planes and taxis for the last 30 hours. We were knackered. Time for a nap. We ended up with three hours. Up at noon we tracked up the sidewalk to Peru Moto Tours to introduce ourselves and have a look at the bikes we’d rented for our 40 day romp through Bolivia. Inside the main entrance right off the sidewalk we met Ada, a cheery Canadian girl that has been in Peru a while and was helping Alejandro, the owner, run the shop. I filmed the two as they went through their intros and we met the mechanics, Victor and Wilbur. From there it was outside to the bikes, a Yamaha 660 Tenere and a Kawasaki 650 KLR. They looked good and as I filmed Dominik explained to Victor how he would like the bags he had brought from Nanaimo mounted. We wrapped it up a short while later. It was a good introduction and we both felt good about how things were progressing.
All I needed to do to end the day was transfer the film files from camera to hard drive so we could have a look at the days footage. Well....the 30 hour blur, three hours of sleep, an altitude induced mushy brain all conspired together so I might blindly commit my first major act of stupidity of the trip. Trying to save some time on the Canon I mistook the day file number with the scene file number and accidently deleted the entire days footage. Not my proudest moment. Dominik wasn’t too impressed.
They say when you arrive at high altitude you should rest up and acclimatize...they may have a point.