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2. Not a flatbed seat, that's for sure

View Mucho Machu on paulej4's travel map.

Lima, Peru
Friday, December 16, 2016

At a bit after midnight it is time to leave the LATAM Lounge and head to gate J16 for American Airlines Codeshare Flight 2511 from Miami International to Lima, Peru. The flight is operated by LATAM Peru Airlines and leaves at 1:00am, scheduled to arrive in Lima at 6:40am. Lima and Miami are both on Eastern Standard Time.

I have an exit row seat again but this time it is not a good thing. This exit--the first I have ever seen this way--is on a bulkhead. While there are a couple of extra inches at my knees there is no place "under the seat in front of you" for my feet. I will not be able to stretch my legs out and this is a long overnight flight. I erred in the seat selection process.

This is a wide body 767-300 configured to seat 203 in coach and 18 in the front--they call it business class. It is full.

No matter. I pop in my headphones, start up my podcast app and settle in. The first podcast is a Planet Money episode #592 entitled: Bell Wars. It is short--twenty minutes--and listed as "A special holiday episode about the epic, decades-long feud between the two companies that make just about every handbell in the world. My son Cianán, my daughter Megan and my ex Debi all once played in handbell choirs so I forward the link to them.

Soon, a pasta dish and a cup of water make their way to seat 24C and not long after that, as podcasts sequence one and then another, I sleep fitfully and then more soundly until I hear the captain announce that we are on final approach.

The Peruvian landscape below is shrouded in fog with only mountaintops visible. A bit further the outline of the city and then its detail emerge. The most remarkable thing I notice is the scant number of trees that I see.

Deplaning, clearing immigration, clearing customs and making my way to the domestic terminal is, in Lima, the same as it is elsewhere in the world with the one exception that several hundred people are on hand to greet family and friends as I clear the secured area. I've seen this process before but never before in such numbers. There is nobody to greet me and that makes me the exception.

I already have a boarding pass for my next flight--the fourth of this trip--so I bypass the ticket counter lines and head for security. Computer out, belt and watch off but keep your liquids in your bag and no need to remove your shoes. I'm through without a beep.

A cup of coffee, $2.00 U.S. with the change in Peruvian coins dropped in the tip jar and I settle in at the boarding lounge at 7:15ish to wait for my flight to be assigned a gate. LATAM flight 2123 to Cusco appears to continue on to Juliaca. There are but four gates at the end of the concourse where I wait, watching the monitor to see if i should, in fact, be waiting here or somewhere else.

My Spanish is spotty but the monitor is easy to understand. The first column is Hora for departure time. The second column is CIA which seems to indicate the airline name. Next is Vuelo which is the flight number. Then Destine for destination. Flights are headed for Pias, Piura, Trujillo, Nvo Mundo, Tarapoto, Pucallpa, Ayacucho and more. The next column is H EST which is estimated actual departure time. After that it is PTA which is the Gate. That's the one I am waiting to populate. The final column is Observacion which tells me Demorado, Fin Embarq, Llamada, Ul lambda and fin embark. I think that is Call, Last Call, Delayed, Closed, etc.

Finally, at 8:00, 2123 pops up as being slotted for gate 13. That's not where I am.

A short walk brings me to Gate 13. I join a capacity crowd and take one of the last open seats. Spanish is spoken all around me but there is a good mix of Asians here as well speaking--I think--Japanese. I seem to recall a Peruvian President--a woman I think--of Japanese descent, maybe Fujimoroa? I need to look that up. In any event, the final leg of my journey has, after much anticipation, finally presented itself.

One continent to the north, B4 and Edward are just about to have their surgery experience. My thoughts are with them. The surgery is routine even though the recovery isn't. Still, my heart is there while the rest of me is here.

I am interested in the advertising panel in the gate area for "Sorojchi Pills: The Solution For High Altitude Sickness." It dominates the boarding area and makes its pitch in six languages. At last, they call the flight. I am Preferente due to my American Airlines status so I get to board early and easily find a spot for my carry on. Settling into my seat on this Airbus a320-200, the first thing I notice is that I don't fit. Sitting in 4C, my knees are wedged tightly into the back of 3C. This is the tightest pitch I’ve ever experienced. This flight is full as have been all the others but there are 177 seats here. At least there is something to eat and drink. large_cfb25cf0-3019-11ea-a811-2f5309009da5.jpglarge_cfb14b80-3019-11ea-a39a-bfe72fa1d1cd.jpglarge_cfa9aa60-3019-11ea-837f-b3e1d50cc264.jpglarge_cfb235e0-3019-11ea-beda-a9b806d6f5ce.jpglarge_cfb3bc80-3019-11ea-8d77-0fc685607c1f.jpglarge_cfac1b60-3019-11ea-b2fc-b529a1682fac.jpglarge_cf9beec0-3019-11ea-aa16-118116f1eeb4.jpglarge_cf9c15d0-3019-11ea-a98c-2ded9bdc33fb.jpglarge_cefe9d50-3019-11ea-90a9-d767f4cb4d07.jpglarge_cf3a94e0-3019-11ea-90a9-d767f4cb4d07.jpglarge_ceff87b0-3019-11ea-a4bb-43bfff0645d4.jpglarge_ce9ddfb0-3019-11ea-90a9-d767f4cb4d07.jpg

For some reason, we are delayed on the tarmac. There is much Spanish spoken but little English so I don’t know why it took 45 minutes for us to make our takeoff roll and get airborne. We leave Lima which is, for all practical purposes, at sea level and head for Cusco at 11,000 feet. I am ready for my flying to be over.

My seatmates, a Spanish speaking couple dressed to the nines repeatedly cross themselves as we begin to taxi, as we begin our takeoff roll and as we become airborne.

Posted by paulej4 16:12 Archived in Peru

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