I don’t usually sleep on flights, even 12 hour flights. Instead, I have perfected the technique of sort of zoning out, so I am not quite awake, yet I am conscious of what is going on around me. This time, unusually, I did actually doze off, until I was woken by all the lights being extinguished, apart from the safety lights. Although I’ve flown long haul several times and I suppose that must have included at night, I don’t ever remember all the lights being turned out before. There are three things insomniacs dread, having someone sleeping soundly beside them, a chiming clock reminding them how long it is since they slept (at least I was spared that one) and being forced to ‘sleep’. The only way I can get to sleep is by reading. I can’t see to read. My Kindle does have a light but the battery is so worn out on the light I still can’t see. Arrggh! Back to the ‘zoning’.
I don’t wish to lower the tone but the woman in the aisle seat must have incredible bladder control. You know how it is on these occasions, rather than climbing across someone’s lap, you resolve to avail yourselves of the facilities when they do, except she doesn’t. A thirteen hour flight, two meals complete with drinks and she never moved once. In the end we asked to get out twice, after meals when she was actually awake. Somewhere in the midst of all this it becomes my birthday. As we fly over Brasil, there is an incredible sunrise across the horizon – wow. No photographic evidence as the camera was in the overhead locker. Sao Paulo is clothed in smog. I was a geography teacher once by accident, I have learned about the pollution problems in Brasilian cities.
We manage to negotiate our way across Sao Paulo airport and their internet connection is slightly more amenable to my system, l though I am warned about ‘suspicious activity’ on my account, which is basically me trying to access my own emails. There is just time for me to learn that I am now a great aunt by marriage, which is very exciting but makes me feel even more antiquated than ever. We are called for our five hour flight north to Lima. We are given another breakfast. This is probably just as well as the previous plane had run out of our breakfast option of choice. It is now 9.00am Lima time but it seems it is time for us to go to bed again as all the lights are switched off once more. Is this some ploy to ensure that passengers are comatose and not causing trouble I wonder? I resort to playing umpteen games of Bejewelled on the in flight system, which is a bit tricky as there’s nothing to rest my arm on. I hope the person in front isn’t troubled by my continual jabbing at her headrest as I make my moves. I’d quite like to look at the land we are flying over. The woman in front has rebelliously opened her blind for a few moments. The world hasn’t ended, so I briefly do the same and glimpse masses of desert, with snow covered mountains in the distance. I am not by nature a rule breaker, so I close the blind and get back to Bejewelled.
We are given customs form. It is in Spanish. Despite trying to teach myself Spanish when I was about twelve, I don’t know much Spanish. Ok, I don’t really know any Spanish. Even the couple of words I think I know are probably Italian. I feel ashamed that I don’t make more effort with other languages; it is very arrogant of me to expect everyone to speak English but I am really not a linguist. I do know enough French to follow some similar Spanish words but I am not confident I have grasped the subtleties whether we have anything to declare. We probably don’t but I’ve watched Border Force, I don’t want to be fined or reduced to tears. I ask if there is a form in English. There isn’t. ‘Just say you have nothing to declare’. But how do I know I don’t? Allegedly there will be a notice when we disembark. There isn’t. We ask two relaxed looking customs men. ‘What do we have to declare?’ I ask. ‘Just the usual stuff,’ is the reply. ‘You probably haven’t got any,’ and we are waved through the green channel.
Two more concerns are unfounded. First, that our baggage would go astray and second that we would not be met, as promised, for transfer to our hotel. Both luggage and taxi driver are present and correct, so our Peruvian adventure can now begin.