A Long Day

Trip Start Oct 22, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  ,
Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Today was a very long day...
As we've decided to head home to Australia and surprise our family and friends for Christmas (shhh it's a secret!) we needed to find our way to Los Angeles for our flight home to Sydney, a ticket we bought in secret back in June.  We packed up our stuff, shocked that it had somehow spread across the entire floor in our little room.  After checking out of the hostel the rest of the day was spent sitting in the sun, reading the new "Lima at Night" magazine.  Obviously aimed at a particular market it outlined all the nightspots in Lima and had a huge section on local escort services.  It also had some tutorials and guides on how to meet local Peruvian women and what they expect of foreign men.  Geesh!  Looks like Lima is turning into the Thailand of South America.  Eventually it was time to head to the airport so we flagged down a taxi, negotiated the price in Spanish and jumped inside the cab.  Driving to the airport was like another game of Daytona, as the driver flew along the backstreets around 100kph, tooting his horn as we drove on the wrong side of the road, passing buses and just missing the oncoming traffic.  It's always interesting on these trips when you realise you don't have a seatbelt on as there are none available to use.
At the Continental Airlines check-in desk we asked about getting off the flight in Houston instead of continuing onto our initial destination of Mexico City.  Raul (a top bloke!) advised us that it was going to be an additional $1,000 USD each to do that.  With this huge additional cost we figured "Mexico City here we come!"  Raul did give us free passes into the airport's VIP Lounge; strange since we looked like backpacker bums, all scruffy in the same clothes we've been wearing for so long.  In a huge stroke of luck we'd managed to get business class tickets for the flight to Houston at the same price of economy seats.  They must have thought we looked a bit dodgey as once checked in the Lima Airport guy then ordered guards to thoroughly go through all our bags.  With a total of three checked bags containing all our worldly goods and all our Christmas presents in South America they were pretty full and had to be packed in a certain way to fit it all in.  At the counter we were a crowd pleaser as people watched two backpackers have all their belongings spread out in front of everyone.  It was great!  We seemed to be the only people they searched.
After stuffing everything back into our bags and doing the obligatory customs process we headed straight to the VIP Lounge.  Ahh such luxury!  We had free food, Spanish magazines, Spanish TV and the best of all free Internet.  This made killing a few hours that much better.  With our flight being called at 12.40AM (the wee early hours of the morning) we proceeded through a couple more passport and bag checks before finally entering the gate and going to the business class queue.  Raul even made an appearance to wish us a safe and comfortable flight.  For the first time on our trip we entered the plane and turned left towards the front of the plane instead of right like the plebs.  Business class was fantastic.  We wish this level of service was available in economy class.  The other six rows were filled with men in suits obviously heading the US for business purposes.  We ordered some pre-flight cocktails and wiped our faces with the hot towels our steward provided.  During the night we and one other guy ate dinner.  Everyone slept while we watched movies on demand on our little screens.  With no more energy left we retired, reclining the huge seats fully back, using the electric controls.  Oh how we wish they had these seats in economy for the rest of our plane journeys!  We will be taking donations from those wanting to fund our future air journeys in business class.
As the sun rose we arrived in Houston.  We had to officially enter the US so had our photo and fingerprints taken.  Picking up our bags we headed across the massive airport to the other terminal and went through the most thorough x-ray procedure we've seen, before jumping on the little plane to Mexico City.  Our cranky hostess didn't seem to be impressed with her job, or maybe it was because the plane was so cramped.  Mexico City is one of those airports where they just don't have luggage trolleys, instead they expect everyone to hire a guy to cart your stuff around.  After spending 8 hours there, dragging our luggage around we have decided to start a "Luggage Trolleys For All" appeal.  Our intention is to provide free trolleys for all who need them and in doing so give Mexico City airport a better first impression.  Anyone who would like to lend their support can contact us via email. 
Seriously though we decided not to stay in Mexico City and after checking every airline we found a cheap flight with Alaska Air to LAX.  The only problem was it was full.  So in the spirit of the Amazing Race we ran around booking a ticket for the following day as then they would let us go on the standby list.  Though everyone said we wouldn't get on as it was overbooked by about 10 people, so we fully expected to spend the night in the airport. 
We spent a few hours sitting in the food court with our fingers crossed.  Eventually heading back to the check-in counter at 2PM we were advised to check-in our bags, our seats would be allocated at the boarding gate.  Yay we were on the flight!  Megan ended up in row 8 and Rick back in row 22.
After three long flights we finally arrived at LAX, very tired.  We went to the airport's information desk but they decided to go home early so we found one of those boards advertising cheap hotels with a free phone.  After ringing around we found one out in the suburb of Inglewood.  They had free pickup and said they'd be there 10 minutes later.  After a little bit of mis-communication they rocked up 45 minutes later.  At least we had a place to stay, even though there was a strange dripping noise all night.  Being so exhausted we slept through it.  Rick went down to get the password for their free wireless Internet and was offered a "massage honey?" from a skanky blonde lady.  We were obviously in a classy area, but then hey we're used to that traveling on the cheap.
In the morning we ended up checking out of the hotel as it was too expensive.  Wandering around to other hotel and motels in the Inglewood area we found a place that was a pretty cheap at around $40 USD per night.  It wasn't the best and seemed to be a refuge for evicted families with people rocking up with all their belongings.  The Asian owners were always on the attack when you spoke to them, but hey we needed to save money so it would have to do.  We did go for a walk the next day up to what was described as a "small" mall.  It was huge!  The variety of stuff they have for sale in the States is amazing.  Also was the number of fast food outlets.
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