Sunday, July 4, 2010

Letter from a Weary Traveller

I was just thinking how deeply unpleasant flying is. I have lots of time to contemplate this today, as I am spending approximately 10 hours getting from Cusco to Quito, counting all the waiting-around time in various airports. I’m in Lima right now, at about 5 pm on Saturday, and have 3 hours to kill till my connecting flight to Quito. I’ve already been through security and immigration, and browsed through all the shops on offer (it is amazing what kind of tat is for sale – and more amazing that some people must actually buy it, or they wouldn’t keep selling it). So I have nothing to do now but wait.

You’ll probably be reading this well after the fact, as – despite the advertised “Wi-Fi” zone in which I am currently sitting – I cannot connect to the internet. My laptop is, of course, with me (it never goes in my checked luggage) so I’m typing on it right now. I’ll upload whenever I next have access.

I left my hostel in Cusco about 12 pm, got to the airport in plenty of time and checked myself in all the way through to Quito. So I don’t have to pick up my bag here in Lima and re-check it, which is convenient (although, in hindsight, it would’ve killed some time if I had to do that, which might not’ve been a bad thing). I get to Quito about 10:15 pm, so I probably won’t roll up to my hotel near the airport till after 11 by the time I collect my backpack and get through immigration again. Then I have to get back to the airport by 5 a.m., to do this all again on a flight to the Galapagos.

Ugh. I used to think flying was exciting – the first time I ever boarded a plane was to move to London, England when I was 24, and the notion of where I was going would have made it an exciting prospect in itself. But flying also used to be more enjoyable – the free wine with dinner alone made it almost worthwhile. Now you get next to nothing – not even always a meal or snacks (some airlines make you pay for those, such as my most-hated American Airlines).

It doesn`t bother me, particularly, I just find the whole experience very dull.  Oh, once I had a sort-of panic attack for no apparent reason -- flying back from Jackson Hole last winter, I think.  I was convinced that the plane was about to drop out of the sky and practically hyper-ventilated.  Don`t know why, I`ve never been afraid of flying before or since.

And airports aren’t fun places to hang out, unless you’re really into shopping and don’t mind spending well over the odds for whatever you’re buying. I don’t shop, really, unless I have to, so that has little appeal. Would it kill them to have a movie theatre, or free internet stations, or somewhere I could go listen to music?  Some airports are definitely worse than others ... I think LAX still wins as the most boring airport in the world.

There are restaurants, cafes and bars, of course, but the problem is that I have almost no vices left with which to amuse myself – I don’t drink alcohol much anymore (Hair of the Dog crowd, if you’re reading this, stop snickering – I’m serious), and I’ve largely given up coffee (my workmates will have trouble believing this, but it’s also true). And I like the way I’ve been losing weight this trip, so I`m not inclined to pig out on some unhealthy airport meal.

That doesn`t leave me many options, so here I am. I`ll probably write in my travel journal later, too – I have a couple of days to catch up on – or read more of the novel I`m toting around. What I could really go for, though, is a fitness centre where I could go work out – all this enforced inactivity is getting to me.

Maybe I`ll just walk circles around the airport lounges. So what if everything thinks I`m crazy.

p.s. uploading this from Guayaquil, Ecuador airport, on a brief stopover before going on to Galapagos.

1 comment:

  1. Hey,

    We're heading back on August 12th. Will have two days in Sydney and then flying to Toronto on August 14th before continuing on to Cleveland. Really looking forward to the 24+ hours of flying--not! I know you can empathize.