Lima, waiting for the embassy to open!

Trip Start Jan 20, 2010
Trip End Jun 16, 2010

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Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, May 28, 2010

We did arrive at the airport with literally minutes to spare and my luck changed. They let me on the flight with only a photocopy of my passport and I was on my way to Lima. In Lima my parents stepped in and suggested some hotels in Miraflores, Lima, where they would pay for me to stay. Instead of walking through a dodgy street at night to a Hostal, I took a taxi to the door of the Radisson Hotel. Walking into the lobby in my dirty tracksuit trousers, huge rucksack with walking boots hanging off the side and a week's worth of stubble I did attract some funny looks but, with another stroke of luck in my favour, they had one available room which I took, showered and went to sleep in, as energy-sapped and grateful to have the parents I do as I have ever felt in my life.

I was ill for my first few days in Lima, so I just enjoyed the luxury of the hotel. I have never appreciated a bed, bathroom and particularly the breakfasts as much as I did then.

I thought my luck had changed but I then discovered that the embassy was closed. It was Bank Holiday weekend – in England – so they were closed Saturday, Sunday and Monday. At least I was in a nice place and having a nice relaxing time, so it wasn’t the end of the world. On Monday I ventured out of the hotel, feeling a bit healthier, and walked through Miraflores to the embassy. I just wanted to confirm that it was closed and the time it would open tomorrow but to my horror saw a sign announcing that it would be closed on Tuesday for the (UK) Queen’s official (not her real) birthday. It turns out embassies all over the world are full of very lazy people who do all they can to work as little as possible. They close for every Peruvian holiday you could name, plus holidays in England that the English don’t even close for. Wednesday came and I got in the embassy and saw a Consulate. I filled-in a number of forms, produced passport photos, paid a consular fee and left hoping I would have my temporary passport by the afternoon. I visited LANChile airline office to look at flights to Ecuador and begun to plan meeting Sahib and going to the Galapagos Islands, with the consulate having told me I could use my temporary passport to visit 5 countries en route to England. I went to get my Travellers’ cheques replaced at the American Express office (surprisingly they had taken their lunch hour (2hours) at the time I arrived) and went to buy a new camera to take to the Galapagos.

A phone call from the embassy informed me that the computers were down in Paris and as a result they would not be working on my passport anymore until the next day. I understood they had probably had a busy week so it was fair enough to take an afternoon off – three hours solid work in a week is far too much for most normal consulates!

I found a flight for Friday morning with LAN, from Lima to Guayaquil and once my passport was finally sorted on Thursday, I booked it. I decided to go to Guayaquil rather than Quito as it was closer and cheaper and also flights to Galapagos Islands always passed through Guayaquil.

In a skype call to Sahib, we both booked ourselves onto the Tame Airline flight to the Galapagos on Saturday morning. Sahib would take the morning flight from Quito and I, having stayed the night in Guayaquil, would get on the plane when it stopped there. Things were looking up in a big way and, having enjoyed Miraflores and Lima a lot more than I was expecting, got on my flight into Ecuador, temporary passport in hand, thrilled to be heading to the Galapagos Islands!

I wasn’t 100% sure I would be allowed into Ecuador, as I no longer had any reason to trust Peruvian officials! At the airport in Lima they tried to get me to pay for a new immigration card but, fed up after the last week and now confident in Spanish, I verbally launched into the official telling him I didn’t have to pay and the reason why I no longer had my immigration card. Surprised and probably experiencing this for the first time from a British tourist, the official held his hands up, stamped my passport and waved me through – I was officially allowed to leave Peru! Now; could I enter Ecuador? 'Third time lucky’ was the hope...
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