Juliaca aka Hell

Trip Start Oct 08, 2008
Trip End Oct 29, 2008

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Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, October 17, 2008

I don't even know where to start.....after wrapping things up in Puno...we headed to the Juliaca airport to catch an overnight flight to Santiago, Chile. Well if you will recall (if you don't please review the Cusco entry)....we had experienced many issues with the Peruvian travel industry....but now...after 2 painful encounters, we prepared for our 3rd and final round with the full confidence that this would go smoothly. Afterall, we had our reservations, we paid for our seats and had made NO CHANGES...

We arrived at the airport more than an hour early after riding local style in an overcrowded vw bus over crumbling roads. We dutifully lined up to check in...got to the counter and were told that we had no reservations....obviously there was a mistake....after all we had our confirmation number and printed itinerary....ah, it seems that the 'system' canceled our flights after we 'no showed' for our first flight...only we didn't 'no show' ... we took another flight since no one at the airport could seem to figure out how to rebook us on the later flight...well after arguing our point for 2 hours with the completely indifferent (that is being polite) staff of LAN in Juliaca....we finally surrendered, got a cab and told him to take us to the best hotel in town....if you are not familiar with Juliaca, and why would you be, it is about as desolate and god-forsaken a place as there ever was....and now we were stranded here. They had told us this wasn't their problem and we were responsible for trying to resolve it and by the way there is only 1 flight per day to Lima and they are all booked....

A photo of the best hotel in Juliaca.....

Our only hope was to contact American Airlines at 7am the next morning to get our itinerary reinstated (they had canceled the entire itinerary including our travel to Chile, Buenos Aires, and back to Lima). So we set the alarm and went to bed....

At 7am, we called AA who told us pretty much the same thing which was that we were SOL....but oh, they had a solution where we could pay another $2,000 in addition to the $1,200 we already paid to rebook our cancelled flights. We dug our heels in and refused to accept this and after an hour and 45 minutes and 2 transfers....we finally got someone to change our flights for no fees....it turned out to be a great big game of chicken.

Well that left us with a day to spend in Juliaca (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juliaca).. Well there is nothing to do in Juliaca...so we ended up taking a pedicab in search of massages which do not exist...then we gave up and headed to the airport about 6 hours before our flight....

Our chariot

The scene of the crime

6 hours of waiting (it's the national pastime)

RJ somehow managed to squeeze himself in. He would not be denied....

We have no more pictures of our experience here because we were focused solely on getting the heck out of there....We figured that if the agents who we fought with the night before spotted us, the 'system' might just cancel our seats again. So we printed our boarding passes out at the hotel and went straight to security. So far, so good...we got through. Now we just had to get our butts on the plane...there was still a possibility that it was oversold and that our seats were double booked. So once the plane got there (late), we RAN out on the tarmac and leapt into our seats....we decided that the only way we would be taken off that plane was at gunpoint....

Once the plane took off...we exhaled. Hallelujah....we were off to Chile....
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Where I stayed
hotel real
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