by Marco Guzman, Greenheart Travel Language School Student in Cuzco, Peru
Soooo….lets just say my travels to Cuzco did not go as planned…and that is putting it kindly. To kick things off, I got a call Sunday morning from United airlines informing me my flight had been canceled, without reason, and I needed to call United. Mind you this is 10 am; my flight was scheduled to leave at 3:15 pm. That left me with five hours to figure out how to get to another country to make my 5:20 am connecting flight in Lima Monday morning.
I got on the phone with United to figure out my options. I inquired about the direct flight leaving Houston for Lima at 3:50 pm, but they said there were no seats available. After a lengthy conversation with United I was able to get on an American Airlines flight leaving Houston at 2:20 pm heading for Dallas (I know…wrong direction) where I could then get on another AA flight heading for Lima. Never mind this was going to add about three hours of flight time to my travels, but now I have one less hour to deal with before I am to leave Houston for one month. I make my way to the airport and arrive with plenty of time to make my AA flight. However, mother nature had different plans…it started to rain….hard.
All flights delayed. The flight that was scheduled to leave before my 2:20 pm flight to Dallas had not left the airport as 2:20 pm came and went. That meant my 2:20 pm flight was delayed by at least two hours. Which then meant I was now in jeopardy of missing my flight from Dallas to Lima. Now I find myself on the phone once again with a United rep while standing in line at the AA gate counter to ask about time frames. United informs me they now have one seat on the direct flight from Houston to Lima and would I like it? Of course I said yes. However, now it is 2:50 pm, I am standing in a different terminal with my two bags already checked with AA. Naturally I inquire with the AA rep what should I do with my bags seeing as how I have one hour to make my new United flight in a different terminal. AA said don’t worry my bags are already checked all the way to Lima and therefore there is no issues….just wait in Lima until the AA flight arrives to claim my bags.
I then make my way to the United direct flight to Lima. I am seated in the very last row of the plane, but hey, at least I got a window. Six hours later and at least 500 bumps (bad turbulence for most of the flight) I arrive in Lima. It is now 11 pm and I learn the AA flight will not arrive until 1:30 am. So I wait…and wait…and wait.
Luckily there is a very nice girl from the Peru tourist information desk excited to converse with me to work on her English….I talk with her for maybe an hour or so. Eat the United food I had saved from the plane and wait…and wait, until finally the AA flight arrives. Now it is 2 am and I go to claim my bags and what do you know………..no bags! Nothing…everyone has left, no more bags coming out and it is now 3 am. So I go to file a claim the AA rep and he informs me that he is unable to do anything for me because I came to Lima with United….I must file a claim with them…..however, United reps wont be at the airport until 6 am….I leave at 5:20 am!
I tried to politely tell them that is great and all, but last time I check AA had my bags….not United. Left with no option I leave the baggage claim area and make my way to the counter to check in for my 5:20 am flight to Cuzco with Taca Airlines….with nothing but my backpack which contained my camera, laptop, and a few books, but sadly no clothes. The Taca Airlines ladies tried to help me, but were also unable to do anything for me. Therefore, I was left with no choice but to forget my bags and proceed on to Cuzco and try to deal with it once I reached the house of the family I would be living with for the next month.
However, on my way to the gate I happen to see the girl I talked to with the Peru tourist information desk while killing time waiting for my bags. Call it fate, luck, coincidence….whatever. I explain to her what happened and she says she can help. I leave all my information with her and she says she will talk to the United rep when they arrive at the airport at 6 am. I say thanks and I head for my plane. Boarding pass in hand, two minutes before boarding I get a page over the PA system to come to the gate counter. (I hoped they found my bags, but no luck). They just gave me a new boarding pass. As it turns out I think the Taca ladies felt sorry for me and ungraded me to business class which meant I got an extra roomy seat and a square meal for breakfast rather then just a snack.
The flight from Lima to Cuzco took only 50 minutes, but I have to say it was the most amazing flight I have ever been on. Just imagine flight in the valley of snow capped mountains as the sun rises over them. Beautiful does not even begin to explain the feeling. Despite the craziness of the last 24 hours I am surprisingly in good spirits as I arrive in Cuzco at 7 am Monday morning where I am to meet a rep from the language school to pick me up and take me to the school for my first Spanish class at 8:30 am.
Also note it is about 45 degrees in Cuzco at this time….and remember I have nothing but what I wore on the plane which was my boots, blue jeans, and a long sleeve button up shirt. I head out of the airport to wait for the rep…and wait….and wait….and nothing. I see plenty of drivers with signs waiting for other people, but none for lonely…cold…Marco. By this point I am starting to think….are you kidding me?! Not only do I not have anything with me, but the airport is so small there is no wifi for me to log on to for me to get the number for the school to call and ask where my driver is.
Luckily I befriend another nice girl working at this airport who lets me use her computer to look up information and calls using her cell phone to track down my driver. Turns out there was a mix up and they thought I was coming in one day earlier. The driver finally comes to pick me up and takes to me to meet my family. I take a nap, and then head out with the family to buy me some clothes so I don’t freeze to death. Meanwhile it starts to rain, hard.
After buying a few things we go back to the car so they can drop me off at the school for the welcome dinner. And what do you know …. the fun continues. Now their 1984 VW bug will not start. After a few feeble attempts to push the car in the dirt (mud) parking lot we decide it will be better to push the bug into the street (yes there is traffic) and let it roll down the hill to get started. What do you know this works. So now me and the mom are chasing the the bug down the hill, in the rain so the dad doesn’t have to stop and kill the car once more. We hop in, they take me to the school and I make it in time for the very tasty welcome dinner. After I head home and get some much needed rest.
To sum everything up….my travel to Cuzco was FUBAR. However, thanks to an amazing wife who spent four hours on the phone with AA, United and Taca going in circles I finally got my luggage today. And I have to say despite the world conspiring against me the last two days I am still in awe of my surroundings and excited to finally begin my Peruvian adventure…lets just hope the remainder is hiccup free. This view from my school helps put my mind at ease.