Many Free Miles

May 25

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There are only a few reasons when getting up at 4:30 is acceptable; going on one's honeymoon is one of them. With everything already packed, we left just before 5. We didn't get even to the first traffic light when I realized that I forgot to pack the FireWire card reader, without which it would have been much harder to get pictures off the camera. So with a brief detour we made it to the airport, which bore no signs of post-9/11 depression: people everywhere, in large numbers, with long lines. Despite being 1:30 hours early, we were soon escorted to a special line just for people for the Atlanta flight. I wonder which flights the other people were waiting for... Same with the long security line: after five minutes of no progress we were pointed to a special checkpoint for just our flight. Pretty neat, and definitely encouraging people to come late to the airport as they still will be accommodated =)

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With a quick stop in Atlanta we arrived in Lima around 22:00. We got off the plane like in the good old days, on stairs onto the tarmac, where we were greeted by an agent who was handing out Spanish and English SARS information flyers. We were brought to the terminal by bus. First thing we saw in the terminal was a huge Deloitte-Touche ad, followed by large, home-made signs "Welcome to Peru - we don't have SARS!". Nevertheless, the five or so immigration agents in their booths were wearing a face mask for protection. Once it was our turn to show our passports, we were amazed that the agent didn't say a word, nor did she look at our passport picture or us. She just opened the passport on the first page, smacked a stamp, and off we were. Similar surprise was the customs control: we picked up our bags, and were pointed straight through the customs. Peruvians have to press a button which randomly will display a green or red arrow - pass through or be searched. Visitors like us always seem to go through without any further checks. What a contrast to e.g. Australia where the customs agent opened every single of my film rolls.

Once out of the customs area we were confronted by a solid mass of humanity waiting, pushing behind a fence, many of them holding a name sign, apparently waiting for the arrival of people. A small red sign bearing our name could be seen squished in the corner, giving us a certain level of comfort. Our guide was accompanied by a driver, and on the way to the hotel we were given all sorts of papers for the duration of our stay. When asked where we were from and answering San Francisco, we got to hear a story about the San Francisco and Brazilian queers, how amazing things are in Rio and wondering whether San Francisco was the same. We couldn't answer that. We were further advised to take it very easy once we arrive in Cusco, because otherwise the high altitude (over 3000m) would make us feel dizzy and sick. He recommended that we simply lay down for two hours and watch some TV, and check whether Bush is inventing a new war. Looks like the US is truly popular throughout the world these days.

The hotel was nice, old, and quaint. The room was nicely furnished and we had a restful, even if short night.

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