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Day 437 – 18th February 2010

Posted by TravellingStrom on February 18, 2010

Thursday – In Transit, Peru, El Salvadore, USA

A long and tiring day

I woke up on time before the wake up call, so at least my brain is still working normally at this time 🙂 After the shuttle dropped me at the airport, I opted for getting my check in bags plastic wrapped, only because I could not lock them up, then it was off to check in.

Now came the most devastating news of the trip so far. After the girl had processed me most of the way and assigned me seats on all three connecting flights, they would not allow me to board! It turns out the electronic ticket I had been sold is not a valid ticket by itself, I also needed a paper ticket, but I was never issued one 😦 I had been told by the agent it was all I needed and it was 5am and she is trying to tell me to phone an Argentinean travel agency to find out what is going on, how brain dead is she, everyone knows that down here they don’t open the doors until 9 or 10am!!! So although I tried, there was no getting around the problem and I really thought I was stuck in this country for another week while I sorted out a new ticket 😦 😦 😦 But, I asked to speak to a supervisor and when I did she said as the travel office was closed, the only way to get on the plane was to purchase another ticket, then attempt to get the money back for the other one! Well, as I was stuck between a rock and a hard place, that is what I did, even if it cost me 30 bucks more, but it could have been worse I guess. The good news was I was soon processed and aboard a plane, but I did not start breathing again until we were in the air for the first of three legs. 🙂

We did not take long to get above the clouds and then above the Andes, the last time I saw them I was on a bike, my preferred mode of transport, but I was a lot warmer now than I was back then 🙂

Not long after we crossed the coast of Chile and started to work our way up over the sand dunes and coastline to our first stop at Lima, Peru. As a point of interest we are at 30,000ft or something, check out the size of the dunes, humongous!

I had an hour turn around here in Lima while I changed flights for the next leg up to El Salvador, most of the time taken up by security checks and bag screening on the ground, then in the air reading a book or watching the in flight movie. It was a few hours later that we dropped down into the tropics and I prepared for a 6 hour wait in the departure lounge 😦

Let’s just say the time passed slowly, I read a book and in the end I had to buy another for one simple reason, when I had had the bags wrapped in plastic, I had forgotten to take out my laptop, so the time I intended to spend online in the lounge was not going to happen. I did try and find an internet cafe, but there were none around, without being a member of the VIP clubs 😦 This meant I could not book a car which may be a hassle as I had forgotten to do it prior to leaving. I had booked a motel, but it would mean a cab there and I had been advised it would be cheaper to hire a car to get to San Diego from LAX, rather than try and use busses or trains, as the connection hassle would be a nightmare. Oh well, we shall suck it and see. I did wonder around a bit and succumbed to internal pressure and bought a new iPod in the duty free shop to replace the damaged one I had with me which I had been using for years. This had originally been damaged when I travelled around Oz in 2008, the screen had been damaged so I had never been able to use many of the menu items or read what song was playing, although it has played music perfectly during that time, I will use it as my bike player 🙂 So, 6 hours later we were finally able to board and once on board and rolling down the runway, I was a bit unsure how to take my fellow passenger, she was praying mightily to someone in Spanish, I guess it worked because we got into the air all right 🙂

Another 5 hours of flight and gaining time as I entered each time zone heading West, watched another movie and read some more of my book but eventually we arrived safely at LAX, with my neighbour once again praying heavily and applauding loudly when we did not crash, whatever rocks your boat I guess, as long as the ground crew had done their job properly, the plane stayed together and the driver was sober, we had a chance 😉 Now came the silly thing, everyone who has flown has seen this, as soon as the plane is down and near the terminal, guess what happens, yep, everyone stands up, grabs their bags from the overhead lockers and then proceeds to block the aisle, because the stairs have not even arrived yet and it was another 10 minutes before we could start to disembark, needless to say I just sat back and relaxed, no rush 🙂

So, we finally got off and proceeded to immigration and homeland security, this was a revelation and for those planning on visiting the states, this may be of interest. When I chatted with the border guard about my plans here, he started to look at the page in my passport with my old 6 month visa on it. I told him that I had already used that and it was no longer valid since last September, I had applied for and been granted a 90 day visa online via the Visa Waiver Program. Well, he said to me, of course it is valid, I had bought and paid for originally a 6 month Visa which can be used anytime within 5 years, this had cost me an extra $25, but I thought once it had been used once it was finished. But no, as long as I leave the country and do not overstay the original 6 month period, I can re-enter for another 6 months, leave again and re-enter at anytime during the 5 year period 🙂 So, that was good news, but not what I was told when I applied, but it is good to get that cleared up and that the extra money I had spent was not wasted after all 🙂

So, I passed that test, next was baggage claim, it was getting close to midnight and it took a while standing around before I finally saw one of my two bags coming down the carousal.

After this it was customs, but I went through the ‘nothing to declare’ line and was waved straight through. Now I needed to find a hire car, but this proved impossible as we were one of the last flights and I had no idea where to go. In the end I just grabbed a cab and payed the fare to the motel where I booked in had a shower and crashed out, I was knackered. Local time it was 1.30am, but my body knew I was on Buenos Aires time and it was actually 6.30am, I had been up for 26 hours or so. I did get online and sort out a hire car for tomorrow before I crashed, so I needed to pick that up around 9am or so.

Day –0 miles and km
Trip – 54,042 miles and 86,972 km



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6 Responses to “Day 437 – 18th February 2010”

  1. Hugh said

    I’m watching your return with great interest. I bet you can’t wait to get home after all these dramas.
    All the best

  2. DS said

    LOL, if I were on a plane and saw you in the next seat I would start praying too… 😀

  3. ybg said

    No worries flying on TACA. It is a good airline. Better than most and the best in Central America.

    But a little help from angels wings never hurts.

    Glad to see you got to where you intended.

    ça vol

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