The Trip – El Viaje
Posted April 24, 2010on:
I made it to Peru safe and sound! The trip was very long, but overall pretty good. However, there were some minor “issues” at the Vancouver airport the morning I left.
As many of you know, I had been struggling with how to bring all my stuff with me. I had contemplated sending some boxes by cargo ship, but with the possible hassle at the port in Lima and the customs duties I would have had to pay (20% on my own stuff!!) I decided not to do it. So, I was left with having to bring everything with me on the plane. Air Canada allows two bags for free. I decided to take three and pay the excess baggage fee of $200. Well, it turns out that 2 or my 3 suitcases were WAY over weight and one of my carry on bags was also overweight (who knew there was a weight limit on carry on luggage!). Anyway, this nice man at the Air Canada check-in counter helped me find a solution to be able to bring everything with me. I had to take a bunch of stuff out of my suitcases and put it in a box which then became my 4th bag and for which I had to pay an additional $100 (not sure why he only charged me $100, I think he felt sorry for me). You should have seen me struggling with all my luggage (3 large suitcase, a big box, a small carry-on suitcase and a laptop bag) when I arrived in Lima. People were looking at my like I was nuts. And of course, as normally happens to me, upon leaving the airport where you hand in your customs declaration card and have to push the button, I got the red button AGAIN. This means that you have to put all your luggage through then X-ray scanner and then they search it by hand. I had to unload all the luggage that I had just finished struggling to get on the cart and then re-load it all over again. Not fun! However, on the bright side, all my luggage arrived here, and for that I am very grateful!
The other unfortunate thing that happened was regarding visas. My first experience in the world of visa problems. I imagine this is only the beginning! I had purchased a ticket with a return date of September 30th, which is approximately 5 months from the date I left. When I got to the Vancouver airport, the same nice man who eventually helped me with my luggage, told me that I couldn’t leave with that return date as you can only travel to Peru for 90 days without a visa. I knew that they normally allow you to stay for 90 days, but I also knew that upon arrival in Lima when you go through immigration you can request a visa extension up to 183 days. However, Air Canada said that because I didn’t have the visa extension in advance they couldn’t be guaranteed it would be granted and that I had to change my ticket or they would be fined. So, after a trip to the ticketing counter and payment of the $150 change fee, I now have a return date of July 15th. As I expected, upon entering Peru, I requested the visa extension for 183 and they gave it to me. Now I can pay another $150 to change my ticket back to Sept 30th or come back sooner on July 15th. I am not sure what I will do yet.
Next time, I will write about what happened upon my arrival here is Peru. It was fantastic!