Chile - Peru 2009

Santiago Chile to Cusco, Peru

9 November 2009

General Information

Local Map

Photographs and Commentary

A very early morning. We met my brother in the hotel lobby at 4:30am. He had an earlier flight and we were to drop him at the terminal and the return the rental car. Then came the frustration. I think that every airport in the world must be under construction and that construction is managed by a moron and his clones. In this case, we wound up going around the airport three times because the normal exit to the rental car return area was closed. Unfortunately, they didn't bother changing the signs. On the second pass I noticed a sign leaning against a signpost directing us to get off at the next exit which turned out to be closed. On the third pass, I ignored the signs and looked for a road that looked like it might go to the right place. We lucked out... the road to the cargo area got us into the rental car return area through the "back door." We dropped the car off and headed to the terminal. All this without my first cup of coffee, ugh!

We had checked in over the Internet so all we had to do is drop the bags at the "bag drop." Sounds simple, but not when it seems everyone is doing online check-ins and there are numerous international flights leaving Santiago within minutes of each other. We finally got through and all the cousins heading for Peru met at Starbucks for that first cup of coffee. The flight to Lima took off close to schedule and we landed in Lima three and half hours later.

Lima airport is an ordeal when you are transitioning to a domestic flight. You have to go through immigration, customs, go through long bag drop lines, pay an airport tax and then head for the gate. This may be a little more palatable if they had given any direction/advice by appropriate signs. For example, we were told that we had to pay a $30+ airport tax upon departing the country next Sunday. That turned out to be incorrect. We had to pay a lesser airport tax even through we were just transiting through this airport, and, yes, we still had to pay the tax upon leaving the country.

Arrival at Cusco was uneventful. I have to say that this is the first time that I ever landed in an aircraft at an altitude of slightly below 11,000 feet... I have flown at lower altitudes in regional/commuter aircraft. Our travel agency agent was at the airport to meet us and the trip to the hotel was quick. Our plan for the rest of the day was to just sit around and acclimate to this high altitude. On arrival at the hotel, the travel agent gave us an orientation in the hotel lounge on what to expect for the next few days. She also introduced us to Matte de Coca, a tea brewed from Coca leaves (no it is not Cocaine). The brew is legal and is said to help with altitude sickness. The natives have been chewing on Coca leaves forever and they swear it cures just about everything. It is very mild tasting and if there are any effects, I can't identify them.

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