Trip: New York to Lima

Though I don't remember a thing about the trip before Miami, Miami airport is wrong enough to start the meter ticking. The stopover was long, and it would have been pretty unbearable, but I was met there by my friend Eugene, who was working in Miami as a journalist. It was great to catch up, and it was even topical, since Eugene and I met at a party of Jorge's.

Miami is an interesting place. US cities seem to mirror the countries that they face. As New York is the westernmost city of Europe and San Francisco is the easternmost city of Asia, Miami is the northernmost city of Latin America. Spanish is spoken there as much as English (or more), and the whole nature of the place is rather Latin. This made it a good transition.

The big attraction on the South American flights was the big bolts of plastic they had for the luggage. It seems that as you fly south, so goes the luggage handlers' honesty. To prevent tampering, they wrap the luggage in plastic, spinning it around and around until it's a Christo masterpiece. This was such common practise that they even had a Spanglish term for it: plasticar. I say Spanglish because I reckon that the proper Spanish term would be emplasticar, but who am I to quibble when the meaning is clear?

My luggage being well plasticado and checked in, I spoke to Eugene for a while longer, and made my way to the gate. I met all the other people who were going to be on the flight. I spent most of my time talking to one woman from Arequipa who was living in Montreal. Most fascinating was that she worked there and did all her business in French, completely bypassing English, of which she didn't know a word. I had no idea you could do that. It's a good thing that everyone was so friendly, because there was another part of the cultural transition – the flight was going to be late. Again, no one was indignant, since this was such a fact of life.

Once the plane got underway, everything was fine. I sat next to a woman with a baby. The baby and I were getting along famously until he said, "Papá", at which point his mother looked at me in horror, and said to the baby, "No!!!" She had given the baby something to knock him out for the trip, he started to drift off, and that wasn't such a bad thing. The mother didn't have that much to say, and less so when it turned out that I could have been the father of her child.

The person who had a lot to say was the Italian woman on the other side of me. She had been living in Lima for many years, absolutely loved it, and jetted back between Lima and Miami on a regular basis. She gave me a lot of information to edit, and was very good natured. At the end she gave me her calling card, which was very nice of her. Since she was a housewife all the card had was her name and her phone number, but the card was very artistic and managed to make good use of the space. She wanted to introduce me to her son who sold cars, but unfortunately, I never had time to call.

When I arrived in Lima it was about 10 at night. It was a 7 hour flight, and I had been traveling since 6 in the morning. Due to a twist in the Americas, New York and Peru are in the same time zone, so I had put in 16 hours. When Jorge met me at the airport, the first thing he did was to take me for food – tired or not. We went to a drive-in antecucho place. Antecucho is beef heart on a skewer, and though it sounds absolutely vile it was actually quite nice. A late-night restaurant, teeming with people – a good sign. It turned out that Peru revolves around food, and the food is excellent. What could be wrong with that?