As you might know, I spent the last 4 months of 2012 in Peru. When it came time to return to my native Canada, things went less than smoothly…

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Ever feel like all the forces in the Universe are conspiring against you? I can’t remember ever feeling that way, until this past Christmas. No, my credit card didn’t get rejected at the Sears checkout in front of an irritated hoard of impatient shoppers the chair didn’t break when I sat on Santa’s lap. This year, the Universe was set on me spending the Holidays in Peru, eschewing years of family tradition.

Harry Potter Syndrome

Our tale begins on December 18th, a sunny Lima morning two days before our heroine (me –duh) is set to return to her native Canada to spend Christmas with her family, as she has every year since birth (yes, it’s all very magical—that’s how she recharges her superpowers dontcha know, kind of like Harry Potter).  Alas, she is suddenly hit with a pounding headache (lightening scar syndrome?), debilitating muscle tension and a fever hot enough to sauté an aji (yellow pepper indigenous to Peru). Her superior intellectual and physical powers are shot, including that of digesting food without attempting to instantly expel it.

A trip to the local emergency room, an influenza diagnosis and a very unattractive display of poor coordination and confusion later, she is deemed unfit for air travel until Christmas itself.  “Just in the nick of time” she thinks. Or is it…

Thwarted

The evil forces of the Universe entice her to act quickly and book a new return flight, fooling her with the hope of an imminent recovery and the rumour that flights were quickly filling up for Christmas Eve. So she reserves a place on the December 24th flight to Toronto. It is the perfect plan, with elves prepared to collect her and her super baggage at the airport and everything. Or is it…

In the wee hours of December 23rd, the greatest evil of all comes. She had heard the rumours, she had seen the victims, but she never could of prepared herself for the terror brought on by the villainous Migraine, with his loyal sidekick Dizzytron the Nauseator. Alas, our heroine’s new departure date was not to be.

A Christmas Miracle

Christmas came and went and remarkably, defying all odds, our heroine gradually regained her strength without returning to the Mother Ship. Apparently there was a new technology that could channel all that energizing family goodness remotely. It was called Skype. Her loyal sidekick was indispensable, lovingly fetching Gatorade & aspirin and acting as a human walker. Without him, our heroine would have succumbed to the dark side (and couldn’t have walked to the bathroom).

Days passed, until it was finally time to regain her pride, defend her honour and get the hell back to her native environment. So she booked another flight (an hour in the local Air Canada office, yippee!). It wouldn’t be easy, but she had enough Gatorade in her to sweat blue and nothing was going to stop her now. Or was it…

The Wise Man on the Can

The morning of that fateful day, everything was ready. Her super baggage waiting by the door, her vegan  smoothie half drank, her resolve stronger than ever. After a heroic, not-at-all-teary goodbye, she and her sidekick began their harrowing journey to the airport. They stopped at a gas station for gum, laughing in the face of the suggested airport arrival time. Big mistake. The battery dies. The car won’t start.

The mechanic, the one and only wise man knowing the top secret location of the booster cables, is on the can. “Call a taxi and kiss me goodbye” she told her sidekick. “We’re not gonna make it!” And that was the very moment at which they discovered that his cell phone was out of credit and unable to make calls. It was then that the wise mechanic triumphantly emerged from the little boys room, saving the day once and for all! Or did he…

“I get by with a little help from my friend$…”

Once back on the road, her sidekick daringly, skillfully navigated Lima’s perilous, traffic-ridden roads (windows up to avoid theft J) finally reaching the coveted airport parking area. And that was where the National Police stopped them for a mandatory document check. Turns out said documents were supposed to all be up to date. Oops. Then came the threat of hundreds of dollars in fines and countless demerit points.

Then, suddenly, the mystical winds of police corruption blew through, liberating our superheroes. The promise of a mere $12 on the way out sufficed to free them from this unexpected hold up and send our heroine back to her homeland. Or did it…

In case you haven’t caught on by now, no, it did not.

Airport Insecurity

All these trials and tribulations worked up their thirst (not only for justice but for herbal tea). One cup of camomile later came the realisation that the line to pass through security was the longest ever recorded in human history. But it was no match for our heroine, who is quite the crafty wordsmith; she had her sidekick beg a security guard to let her pass in front of people (sorry!).

Naturally, when finally passing through the security check point, she beeped, entitling her to a complementary pat down and stick scan. In no time she was ruled too super to stop and was ushered to the customs and immigration line – also colossal- at which point she remembered that she had lost the little stub she received upon entering the country.

Her flight had begun boarding and she had no time for banter, which is why it was particularly frustrating when the agent asked if she had “really lost her little paper or if she hadn’t bothered to look”.

“Sol”-sucking Bureaucracy

“That will be a fine of $4 USD”. “Great, here’s my Visa card” “No, we don’t take cards ma’am. Please provide the exact change, preferably in Peruvian Nuevo Soles” “I don’t have any more soles, I spent them since I am leaving the country. Here’s $20 USD.” “Oh, I don’t have change. Are you sure you don’t have exactly $4USD in Peruvian Soles on you? Perhaps you could go to the Duty Free shop right there and ask for change?—No, no wait. I see here in my system that you have overstayed your arbitrarily allotted number of days allowed in our country. That will be $16USD in fines, for a total of $20USD” “Perfect,” says our heroine as she hands over the bill. Silence. Blank stare. “You can stay and wait for your receipt, but my system is really slow today.” “Goodbye.”

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Sweat was pouring down her face, she clenched her jaw, keeping her head down and blazed through the crowd. A passport and boarding pass check, the long winding corridor decorated with HSBC ads, an insincerely cheerful greeting from a flight attendant….She had finally boarded her flight,with 10 minutes to spare. It was really happening. She was finally going home.

Special thanks to my sidekick and his family for changing their Holiday plans to care for this ailing drama queen –uh heroine. It really wasn’t that bad 😉

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