My first day to arriving to Lima started out a little bumpy. I met a lady on the plane who was fairly aged and seemed like she had many conversations with Americans who knew very little about Peru. She spoke to me in a fairly condescending tone but I decided to entertain the idea and I had no other choice – I was stuck next to her on the plane for a fairly long time. On the plane she even offered to have her friend drive me to my hotel. I was pretty hesitant and went with the – at the time I thought – was the safer router and be picked up by the hotel cab. As the plane landed in the dead of night I rushed quickly to get my baggage. One of the last ones out I realized I had only US currency on me and I needed a way to pay for my cab and other expenses. Got some change and stood in a pretty strange line to leave the airport. There were three rows of people with a fairly tall metal structure with a Red/Green constantly lighting up, as people would walk through. The lady on the plane explained that you pressed a button and if it turned red they would have to search you.
I got in the closest line in the baggage and waited for my turn. I let the lady I sat next to budge behind me as the lines began to grow substantially. Now I have a tendency to break almost every electronic thing that I own – not my fault – just a curse I guess. So without hesitation I slammed the button as it was my turn to walk through and the entire vertical structure just went blank. The security guard told me to just go – apparently I broke it.
I read stories before arriving to Peru of non-legitimate cabs that would pick people up and sometimes there were kidnappings and so fourth so I was trying to be extra cautious. As I walk out from the end of the line I see a sea of people and small little old man holding a sign with my name. I raise my hand and follow him to his “cab”. At first he signals to just wait for him outside of the airport doors – he then comes back after 15 min and signals me to follow him. It’s about 12:30 am and I just follow him blindly expecting to see a yellow cab with stickers and so fourth. Instead we arrive at what looked like a 1980’s Honda sedan. He told me to throw my suitcase and backpack into the trunk but I was hesitant and decided to keep my backpack on me as it had all my info. As I there my suitcase into the trunk I could hear the entire vehicle structure barely holding on. I was worried what would happen if I actually sat in this thing. I finally get in and we begin driving.
5 min into the drive – the oversized racing rear mirror falls into my lap – he grabs it as if nothing and we continue. His English is about a D+ and my Spanish is not any better. 15 min in he explains that there is too much traffic and we need to go an alternative way. It’s now roughly 1am it’s so foggy you can’t see over 30 feet in front of you and there is no one on the streets. We begin driving through some very shady areas with women standing on the corners and some of the worst roads and driving I had ever seen. So it was he and I in this car at 1am in a brand new country with all my stuff on me and no one else really around. As we kept driving along the coast he would tell me – check out this prison, funeral, and other public buildings. I kept looking at my watch thinking what is the worst case possible and what I could do. We finally arrived at the hotel. I paid the cab driver grants he never told me how much or anything – was going based on what I was reading. I got to the hotel drenched and completely dead – got a room which I had to pay for the entire night – even though I slept only about 4 hours after everything and that was the beginning of day 1.
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