I've hardly had time to write on this blog at all in the recent past. Almost every minute seems to have occupied with some important commitment or another. So there has been no chance for a warning or lead-in: I simply have to announce that I'm writing this from Lima.
All going well, I should be in Peru for around 4 months, although I'll need to leave the country for a while before three months are up to comply with immigration requirements; at this stage it's most likely that I'll cross the frontier for a brief trip to Bolivia.
Some regular readers will know what the main purposes of the trip are. I'm unsure how much detail I'll be able to post on these, but at least hope to be able to update the blog regularly.
For now, I can reflect on a trip that from Wellington took approximately 24 hours, including time spent waiting at Auckland and Santiago airports. Maybe it's age, but this time it seemed less enjoyable and exciting and took rather more out of me than in the past. On the Auckland-Santiago leg I watched three and a half movies and hardly slept. The half, which I finished on the Santiago-Lima leg, was Pan's Labyrinth: I usually avoid 'serious' movies at 35,000 feet, but I'm really glad I eventually got to see it as it was a truly intense and moving film.
You have to be impressed with the Chileans. I wasn't aware of it, but apparently Santiago airport took a bit of damage in the recent earthquake, and half the international terminal was out of order. But they had everything running more or less smoothly with only eight available gates, and buses taking passenger to and from the planes. I'm also grateful for the fixed seats in the waiting areas that are more less amenable to exhausted passengers curling themselves up and sacking out for a few hours. I spent about two thirds of my nine hours in Santiago airport in this position.
After getting into Lima, I crashed, and despite hitting the sack at the 'normal' time of about 1:30 am, I slept and slept, through to nearly 4pm the next day. I got up in a bit of a daze, found something to eat, and then shortly afterwards the power on our block went out. By the time I finished my novel by the light of a battery-powered lamp on the hotel terrace, it was time for bed again.
This was when I discovered, as I had expected might happen even before the flight, that I had a steadily worsening headache. And I didn't have any panadol. I couldn't believe that I had neglected to buy some in the airport before leaving, despite idly anticipating this exact eventuality. I have a delicate head at the best of times, and the combination of low-oxygen cabins, sleeplessness, dehydration, and hours staring at a screen or a book in low light, was bound to play havoc with my pain receptors.
This was almost as bad as my worst hangover headaches: but while those could be relieved a little by lying very still with a wet cloth on my forehead, in this case the wet cloth did nothing and lying with my head back was the worst position; sitting up made it slightly better, but I couldn't stay that way all night.
Eventually I managed to achieve a little relief by lying on my stomach and bunching the pillow under my head. In this way I managed to fall asleep, and made it through till the sunlight and early morning traffic signalled it was time to make my way downstairs and round the corner to a pharmacy where I found panadol, a Coke, and blessed relief.
On the positive side, I may have beaten the jet lag a lot quicker than usual. I was up this morning by 8am, am still going reasonably strong now at 7pm, and hope to make it through to about 11, and then hopefully tomorrow will be up at a normal time. Of course, tomorrow night's bus trip to Arequipa could throw a spanner in the works.
However, never again will I travel anywhere without a supply of painkillers.