After waiting a lifetime to travel to Easter Island, the day has finally arrived and I am bouncing off the walls with excitement. But first we have to get there.
The journey begins with a US Airways flight from Charlotte to Miami. As typical for the flying public these days, it’s not a pleasant experience.
Gate agents piss off about 40 people insisting that the overhead bins are jam-packed so everyone with a rolling carry-on is forced to check their bag for the two-hour flight to Miami. One agent insists my backpack has to be checked and offers to check it all the way through to Easter Island. I am sure that if I hand over my bag I will never see it again.
I plead that with a bit of rearranging it will definitely fit. If it doesn’t I will submit and check it to Miami. But, I really want to avoid having to go to baggage claim and then have to go through security again if at all possible. Especially in the mess that is Miami International.
Prior to take-off, shock turns to anger as flight attendants slam shut lots of empty and near-empty overhead bins. Way to go US Airways – piss off a planeload of passengers twice before the plane door is closed.
They announce that someone onboard has a peanut allergy so all nuts including any peanut butter sandwiches are verboten.
While I don’t think my throat will close, I am having a reaction to the scary clown-faced lady next to me who is drenched in perfume. My nose and eyes are burning and my head is starting to pound. Worse yet, I think it’s Paloma Picasso which, to me, always smells like bug spray. Maybe she is trying to exterminate me. In the middle seat on a filled to the gills flight there is no escape, so I am flying with my hand over my nose hoping to filter some of the stench.
In Miami, we arrive at a gate on the J concourse. We try to find someone to help us check in for our flight to Lima. Because I bought two separate legs from two separate airlines – US Airways between CLT and MIA and LAN Airlines for the rest of our flights through Lima and Easter Island – I cannot get boarding passes online or in Charlotte. It turns out that the flight to Lima is not on LAN but on American as a codeshare.
We have to go out of the secure area and are dumped out in terminal H. Is there anyone or a sign to direct us? No. We finally find an information desk and are told that LAN is in Terminal J. We schlep our backpacks over there only to find out that LAN, the company that took my money, can’t issue the boarding passes. We have to go to Terminal D to do that. Is there a way to get there without having to walk the complete horseshoe of MIA complex? Of course not.
We are advised it is only a three-minute walk. It takes ten. We get the boarding passes from the self-serve kiosk with the help of an agent. Another trip through security and we are in at Gate D-23. Of course our flight is out of Gate D-1 the furthest gate in the airport. Oh, and the air conditioning doesn’t seem to kick in until we get well into the D concourse. Not feeling fresh at the moment.
That ordeal takes a little more than an hour. Good thing I built in a four-hour layover because I remember how horrible this place was the last time we came through. And it will probably be just as bad when we return. After going through customs, we will be dumped out on the wrong side of security again. We’ve been warned.
Hunger kicks in. Every entrée at every restaurant is around $12. $12 for a Caesar salad! It’s just lettuce folks! $14 if I want chicken! Pass. We end up at Taqueria. $10 for dryish tamales with pork filling that has an odd consistency.
Mike orders chicken enchiladas verde for almost $13. His are super dry until he drowns it in extra green salsa. That makes it edible. The rice is al dente and the refried beans are ground to smithereens.
Mike has a sweet tooth and stops at Häagen-Dazs for two small scoops of ice cream – salted caramel truffle and midnight cookies & cream for $5.37. This airport rapes and pillages a captive audience because they can.
Boarding at 3:45 pm for our 4:30 flight. All standbys are getting on. Yippee! That might mean it’s not a full flight to Lima!
Oh, but it is. And worse yet, lots of crying infants. Oh joy. Five hours and fifteen minutes of flying crying. Yay for us!
Even more (not) fabulous, I can watch the movie but I can’t hear it. My audio jack is busted. The movie is The Big Year with Jack Black and Steve Martin. It’s on my Netflix queue but now Mike will have seen it and haven’t. I can’t imagine that it is that good of a movie that he’ll want to sit through it again.
LAN’s planes have lovely TVs on the back of each seat with a plethora of entertainment choices. But, this ratty American Airlines plane has the ancient stationary boxes mounted down the center every 4th row so everyone has to watch the same thing. They’re not even the kind that flip down!
The seats barely stay in an upright position. And there is no way to adjust the air.
As I do my ritual cleaning with a Clorox wipe, I almost puke when I find a giant greasy smudge mark on the window. This plane is a disgusting mess. There is so much collected filth under the seats that I had to snap a shot of it to share. I can’t believe I took off my shoes! Yes, American is in bankruptcy but ewwww!
I know I’ve discussed this before but it bears repeating. Whenever I take a long flight, I wipe down all surfaces with a Clorox wipe. The tray tables, latches, armrests, buttons, window, the wall, everything! Since I started doing this, I have yet to arrive sick from an overseas flight.
People watch me and either think I am crazy or secretly are jealous. I don’t care. I told my chiropractor about this habit. She told me that the next flight she took after our conversation, she was sitting next to a woman who grabbed the back of her seat cushion and violently sneezed all over the tray tables as they were serving food. And she did it FOUR times, not covering her mouth. Everyone gave the sneezer dirty looks.
I asked if my doctor heeded my advice and brought wipes. She said no but immediately thought of me. Point being, you never know what the person before you did in your seat. Ugh! The thought grosses me out.
About 5 minutes into the movie Mike offers to let me listen in. He’s had enough. He says he thought it would be quirky funny. But this “comedy” about bird-watching is more full of quirks than quirky. We’ll nuke it from our Netflix queue when we get home.
Entrée choices are chicken or lasagna. We both opt for the chicken. It comes with a roll that is rock hard. The entrée is five chunks of chicken breast in what we dub as “What the F#*k is That?” sauce. Could be BBQ, or it could be sweet and sour. Whatever it is, it’s generic brown and not good.
I take a teeny bite of the chicken, then the “mashed potatoes” that obviously come from a box and skip the canned green beans. Disgusting. My husband, the dessert king won’t even eat the brownie. In the interest of research, I take a nibble. Mike says maybe the weird taste is mint. I think chemicals. There is something very artificial in my mouth and I don’t like it.
We’re scheduled to arrive in Lima at 9:10 pm and head off to Easter Island at 1:15 am. A long enough layover for us to share a delicious plate of mushroom pasta that was unbelievably fresh the last time we passed through and we are thinking of a repeat performance.
I am also excited to look for another pair of earrings based on a figure from the Nazca Lines. I was torn between two pairs the last time we were here and ended up buying the heron. They are some of my favorite earrings and I want another pair. I guess it’s evident that I am very happy about this Lima layover.
We hit turbulence around the time we hit Ecuador. As bumpy as it is, I still mange to snooze a bit. That is until one of the many little ones around us lets out a blood-curdling scream. Oh well. I’ll sleep on the next hopefully baby-free flight.
In Lima we have dinner at La Bonbonniere. No longer on the menu, they are happy to recreate the memorable dish. I order the spaghetti with tomato & basil and they add fresh mushrooms. Mike gets the penne with spring veggies with bits of tomatoes, asparagus, zucchini and artichoke hearts. Two bottles of water rehydrate us. This is the meal we hoped for. We are happy.
We ask for the bill in Peruvian soles but the waiter explains that because we are paying with a MasterCard we must do it in American dollars. The bill comes to $44.50 US so we give him a customary 10% tip of $4.50. The total charge is $49. For pasta and water? I don’t remember this place being so pricey the last time we came through.
Because I’ve read that water is expensive on Easter Island, before leaving Lima, we load up on 8 bottles of water for $2.50 each. A total of $20 US and of course my new hummingbird earrings for $40. For a country where we have never left the airport, we always manage to spend at least $100 here.
Our flight to Easter Island on LAN is completely different in the best way possible short of getting an upgrade to first class. There’s an ample overhead bin for every seat and the aircraft still has the new plane smell.
For overnight flights, they always give us a nice little packet with eye shades and earplugs plus free headphones, a blanket and pillow. For our reading pleasure, they throw in a visitor’s guide for our destination. A really nice touch for the cheap seats. There’s no nickel and diming here.
The coach steak dinner smells good but I’m full and exhausted. For a second, I am tempted to have a free glass or two of good Chilean wine. Instead, I slip into an empty row of three seats and leave Mike to our two. There’s definitely some snoozing going on during this five-hour flight.
About 25 hours after we leave our house, we touch down on Easter Island in the dark. It’s 6:50am.
Next blog, after standing in line for almost an hour, we hit the ground running.