Thursday, 8 January 2015

Starting the Journey Home - Cusco to Lima

We woke up early in the morning, had breakfast at our hotel, and then packed our suitcases for the flight from Cusco to Lima.  We still had the can of oxygen, which I had found incredibly helpful at Machu Picchu.  My asthma tends to flare up at high altitude and taking little hits of oxygen really helped my stamina.  So as we were packing, John asked me if we should pack the oxygen or leave it behind.  I knew we couldn't pack it in our carry on bags but I thought it would be ok to put it in our checked luggage just like a can of hairspray. I also wanted to bring it home to show my allergy and asthma specialist to find out if anything like this is available at home.

We got to the airport so early that they were able to move us on to an earlier flight as long as we were ok not sitting together.  We found our gate (our tickets said gate five but we were actually supposed to be at gate two) and lined up.  As we were standing in line, in the barrage of Spanish over the PA system, I suddenly heard my name. 

I went to the boarding gate and told the attendant that I had heard them announce my name.  She informed me that I needed to follow her and we went through the double doors and started down a long winding ramp into the 'bowels' of the building.  We ended up at ground level and she started knocking on the glass double doors which would lead us out to the tarmac but were bound in a chain and heavy lock. As we waited for one of the guys on the tarmac to notice us, she asked me if I had anything dangerous in my suitcase.  No, of course not.  Oxygen?  No........

There was no way the guys on the tarmac were ever going to hear the gate attendant gently rapping on the glass doors but eventually someone noticed her and came around to unlock the door.  We went out onto the tarmac where the planes were getting ready for take off and she brought me to a small wooden structure like a little shed that had a huge plexiglass window.  If you've ever seen Mythbusters on TV, it looked  like the little shed they hide in when they are blowing things up. 

Two guys rolled John's suitcase out of the airport and onto a little table in the 'shed.'    They asked me if it was mine, and since we were only a few moments away from boarding I figured it would just be easier to say it was mine rather than try to explain that it was John's and have them go and bring him down to the tarmac with me.  I'm not sure why they thought it was mine; it has a luggage tag with his name on it.  They asked me if there was anything dangerous in it, and I told them 'no.'  Oxygen? they asked.  No, I said.  I knew we had talked about packing the oxygen but for some reason I thought we had decided to leave it behind. Luckily we use the same combination for all of the luggage locks, just for simplicity's sake, so I unlocked the suitcase while the gate attendant and the two security guys stayed outside the shed and watched me through the big plexiglass window.  Of course, when I opened it there was the can of oxygen right on top!  Oops!!!  They took it out, threw it away and then had me sign a form.  I had no idea what the forms said but I just wanted to get on the plane.  They took a picture of the photo page of my passport and then we walked back up the ramp to the board area.  Just as I got to the gate, John had reached the front of the line and I was able to board the plane with him and tell him all about my tarmac adventure. 

After that the flight was uneventful, we landed in Lima and grabbed a cab to the Sheraton.  Traffic in Lima was awful so when we finally checked in we decided to grab a late lunch/early dinner at the hotel restaurant and lounge by the pool for awhile. 

In the evening, we were bored and went on TripAdvisor to find something to do.  According to their website, the number one thing to do in Lima was the Magic Water Circuit, a park of water fountains only a few blocks from our hotel. We both thought it sounded kind of lame but it was better than hanging out at the hotel so off we went.  It was so much better than we expected.   There were all different kinds of water fountains including one that was a tunnel that you could walk through and one that had a series of circles of water jets.  You stood inside the circles and tried to make sure you didn't get soaked!  There was a group of about 12 nuns in traditional grey habits who were having a great time riding the train and going into all the fountains.  We had as much fun watching them as we did watching the fountains. Near the end of the park was a really long fountain where they had a laser show that lasted for about half an hour.  It was so much more fun that we had anticipated. 

Everyone scrambles to quickly find a spot in one of the circles of this fountain


Then the water slowly starts to rise and jets cut across some of the circles - watch out or you'll get wet!


Once the water gets really high, you have no choice but to wait for it to go down again. You're part of the fountain now!


At another set of fountains, a laser show takes place every hour with the lasers and the fountains set to music. Notice the little twisting tornadoes of water on each side. 

Back to the hotel for the night.  One last day in Lima, then a midnight flight home tomorrow.