Written by Emily
Rach and I awoke in our usual awkward hostel-dormitary fashion today, along with nine other poeple we barely knew. There was an element of excitement in the air, as today we would begin our 12 day, whilrwind trip around the South of Peru.
After a questionable shower in the hostel, the temperature of which seemed to alternate only between scalding hot or icy cold, we meandered into the sunny garden for a spot of breakfast from the intensely jovial chef that we had befriended the day before. Once we had consumed our asigned 2 bread rolls with radioactively orange marmalade, we still were not satisfied, and so up to the kitchen counter we strolled to demand some pancake times. After about a million years of waiting, our raging stomachs were almost out of control. Just as we were about to mega chastise jovial chef and ask what was taking so damn long, he presented us both with the most intense pancakes with chopped banana and chocolate sauce, and both our names spelt out in sauce at the top of the plate. It´s fair to say that the anger melted away pretty fast after that.
Breakfast consumed, and we made our sweet way up to reception to ask what the deal was with taxis, as we now needed to make our way to some hotel to meet our new Peru crew for the first time. After some confusion, she explained to us that we needed to cruise a few blocks up and get a taxi from there. We complained that this would be quite the heinous task due to our mega backpacks. The solution that was eventually provided here was that we should leave our bags at the hostel, get a taxi back to the hostel, pick up the bags and then proceed. Once we had walked a few blocks up and managed to get a taxi to stop simply by wandering to close to the edge of the pavement, i explained in what i thought was speedy and efficient spanish, that we needed to get back to the hostel for the bags and then carry on to another destination. Despite my linguisitc prowess, all i received from the taxi driver was a face of intense confusion, and him desperately asking "¿Como como?!" Eventually, lord knows how, i managed to make the poor taxi driver understand the plan, and we arrived at some heartily upper-class looking hotel in Lima. Tentatively we paid como como, and dragged our bags out of the boot. These were instantly yanked out of our hands, and shouldered by some hulking and wordless security guard who carried them into the hotel. This was the first hint that mine and Rachel´s days of pick-up truck taxis, shed beds, dodgy authoritarian figues and questionable hostels were over, at least for the next 12 days.
Standing at reception, we looked around in awe at the marble floor, fixtures and fittings and uniformed staff, feeling well and truly like out-of-place losers that had struck incredibly lucky. This illusion was shattered when the receptionist looked over the counter at us, a disparaging expression on her face and informed us that there had been no booking made under either of our names. Typical. Desperately, I waved the trip voucher at her, wondering what the hell to do next. After checking it, to our immense relief, she informed us that como como had taken us to the wrong branch of the hotel, and we needed to be in the Miraflores district. In the space of a second, hulking bag man had transported our luggage outside, flagged down a second taxi, and told him exactly where to take us. Rach however, had not heard this discussion, and so leant forwards with the scrawled address and began to explain. Taxi man interrupted her explaination instantly with a mighty scream of "¡SI, SI!!!!!" To which Rach replied with an equally intense shout of "OH OK!!" and retracted back into her seat.
The Miraflores branch looked, if possible, even more amazing and out of our league than the first one, but on we pressed, up to the marbled reception desk in our scuzzy flip-flops and dirty shorts. After a quick passport check, the receptionist explained that our room was not ready, and that we would have to wait for about an hour in the recption with our ridiculous, Costa Rican filth-encrusted backpacks. Just as we were about to wearily drag them over to the seating area, this amazing sentence left the receptionist´s mouth: "O, wait, there is a double room upgrade available now, you can go there if you want?"
Suffice to say, we were in that lift and on the seventh floor before the bell boy oculd even consider grabbing our bags for us. The room was so unbelivably awesome, with it´s mini-bar, plasma screen TV, jacuzzi bath and full length mirror, it seemed utterly ridiculous that only a few nights beforehand we had been skankng around the kitchen in Casa Yoses, looking for glasses without dead bugs hanging out in them, and showering with our hands behind our backs as the only warm shower had to compensate for this advantage by giving you an electric shock everytime you touched it.
This day passed with us taking 100% advantage of everything the room had to offer, watching friends, taking hour long baths and hitting the mini-bar like it had never been hit before. Eventually though, it was 7pm, and time to cruise downstairs to meet our tour group. In order of appearence, we met Ruben (our cheery tour guide), Trevor, Teressa and Clayton (a Canadian family), Robert (a hearty New Yorker), Carol-Ann and Danielle (more Canadians), Peter and Jennifer (South African brother and sister), Lisa (a fellow Brit), Manuela (Italian solo-traveller) and Julia and Michael (a lovely Canadian couple). We then had a delightful orientation meeting, with many pisco sours for all. Rach and I felt all the more out-of-place at the efficiency and smoothness of the whole operation, but decided to go along with it regardless. Things took a turn for the lolling as we began to discuss the impending flight to Puno, and the group instantly bombarded poor Ruben with about a billion questions regarding what items are and are not permitted on the flight, how to check in and baggae allowance. I finally could take no more, and commented mainly to Ruben and Rach "For God´s sake, you all flew here! It hasn´t changed!" My anger earned a stifled laugh from Rachel and a grateful smile from Rubes.
Once this debacle had ended, and eveyone finally seemed to accept that airport protocall had not altered dramatically within the last few hours, we headed out for a slap-up meal, the first time Rach and I had eaten in a restauraunt since a hefilty cheap Mexican with Charlie and Callum back in CR. The night ended with Rach and I putting all politeness and manners to one side, hungrily finishing off everyone´s leftovers due to a lack of lunch that day. It very much was the shape of things to come.