Aotearoa/New Zealand > Santiago, Chile :
Thursday, 20th September 2018
Chile > Lima, Peru: Thursday/Friday 21st September 2018
Lima > Tumbes > Zorritos, Peru: Friday 21st September 2018
If travel is a go to metaphor to describe how to embrace change, then airports teach you patience. Everybody and everything is in constant transition – people you meet, your interactions, sometimes, even your final destination changes. Nothing and no one in life is stationary, even if
it feels like it. This blog post spans over 30 hours of travel and transit, the beginning of my planned eight-month adventure in Peru.
My parents drove me to Auckland, and I spent most of my time in and out of sleep. I knew that even though I can sleep on the plane, with all that air-conditioning it usually feels like you overslept on your power nap. You then spend the rest of the time in transit walking around like a hyper-active zombie looking for coffee.
I sat by the aisle, and my seatmate, Fernanda, had the window. We shared the empty middle seat, which always come in handy when you wanted to stretch out. She’s a Chilean living in Brisbane, who didn’t realise the plane was actually flying to New Zealand to refuel before making its way to Chile. Fernanda in her words, only knew how to say “hello” when she first moved to Brisbane – a bit like me with my Spanish! She said to make sure I pick up Chilean red wine on my way home because even the cheap box wine in the supermarket is better than Australian wine. Chilean and proud!
Auckland to Santiago, Chile
(11 hr flight + 8 hours transit)
The view of the Andes Mountains was spectacular through the window. Fernanda took a few photos for me, and this is one of them. There were times it was shrouded in fog and you couldn’t even tell that they were there.
I saw Santiago through a haze of sleepiness, though what I did see was pretty. Transit wasn’t that busy so there were plenty of places to sleep and charge my devices. I had a Philly Cheese Steak at an American-themed restaurant, where I had a funny broken-English / Spanglish conversation with the server. He definitely worked that Latino charm, though I have a sneaking suspicion that he and I both like men.
The free wi-fi came in handy and is unlimited (with limited speed), you just need a Facebook or email to log-in. Just remember that it is an open network, so I just used it to update social media and check-in with my parents.
My flight to Lima was a late one, just before 11pm, which meant I would arrive just after 1am. They say that where in life you need to work on your patience, the Universe will put you in that situation until you learn it. I’m not good at being still, but on this trip, I had no choice, so I go with the flow.
Santiago to Lima
(4.5 hr flight + 9 hour transit)
Cleared customs pretty quickly, although he only gave me a 90-day visa, instead of the six months I wanted. My brain was so jet-lagged I couldn’t even tell him how many days there were in six months. I was just over-tired. That’s OK, maybe it opens doors to visit Chile sooner than later.
By the way, I’m glad I bought a travel pillow because it means I don’t have to sit on the floor. In some places, the transit lounge in Lima looked like an emergency shelter – travellers sprawled along the walls in various states of slumber.
It’s only another five hours before I can check in for Tumbes. The guard at the check-in gate helped me out in my broken Spanish. He said I can come back at 7am. My goal is to make an effort to say hello and thank you in Spanish as I go – that way I can still have basic conversations and slowly build up my confidence and comprehension.
Flying in early morning meant I had to carry around my big pack until I checked in for my domestic flight (though I did find a storage area later) it did come in handy as a back rest when I needed a nap. There isn’t a lot of bench seating, or seating in general that wasn’t in the food areas, so just keep that in mind.
Someone walking past was playing ‘Andas en mi cabeza’ by Chino y Nacho on their phone – which just happened to be the finale song at the studio’s last show. Is that the Universe winking at me? Game on!
Lima to Tumbes to Zorritos
(2.5 hours flight + 45 minutes drive)
I managed to get a window seat for my flight to Tumbes, which is the closest airport to Zorritos. Tumbes from the air is beautiful – first you see the incredible mountain ranges, then it opens up to the plains where they have the rice paddies and banana plantations.
My taxi driver, a local hired by Global Work and Travel, waited outside with my name on it. If you’ve been to a small town airport in the Philippines, or most South-East Asian countries, then you will have a fair idea of what Tumbes airport looks like. It felt like I flew home to the Philippines (except the signs were in Spanish) because I looked like most people who stepped off the plane.
There was even a live band playing outside, which reminded me of election time in the Philippines. My driver later confirmed it, though I think it was because a local politician had passed away. He was great and made an effort to talk to me on our 45-minute drive to Zorritos. I learned quite a lot, even with the language barrier.
Tumbes is one of the smallest towns in Peru, at least in terms of having an airport I guess. Agriculturally they grow rice and bananas – though the rice fields were still green which meant it wasn’t harvest time. My driver, Jong, offered me a local banana which was a nice snack as I was getting a bit peckish. We drove past painted walls that had political themes, a common method of advertising in a lot of second and third world countries.
The roads are mostly paved (well paved enough anyway), so always wear your seatbelt. Driving also means driving in the space that’s available to you – being from the Philippines I’m used to this. If you don’t know what that means, basically people don’t observe the use of lanes – if it’s marked as a two-lane road and you can fit two cars a moto-taxi and a bike, it’s on like Donkey Kong! Be spatially aware, don’t hit anyone, and use your horn to let people know you’re passing.
Home for the next month is at the Pinamar Hotel - it has a beach-side location which brings in a nice breeze at night. My feet were a bit swollen from the long trip so a beach walk before sunset was just what I needed. Wearing insect repellent is especially important in this part of the world, and high-risk times are at dusk and dawn.
Jet lag hasn’t been too bad, and I’m looking forward to checking out the markets for fresh fruit and vegetables to try. For now, I just want to relax and soak up a slower pace. I think I’m going to like this place.
Ronna Grace Funtelar is a thirtyish storyteller, creative, writer and slam poet currently travelling in Peru. She is a hobby hiker, photography and sunrise enthusiast with a passion for mindfully helping others live beyond their comfort zone.
Basically, a shorty who knows her life purpose.