LANDING IN LIMA, SMUGGLING DETENTION, AND THE FAILED FLIGHT
Thanks to the woman I got in touch with back during my Venezuela stay, I knew exactly where I was going – Pucallpa, a small town located in the middle of the Amazon jungle.
I landed in Lima at dusk my next flight, however, wasn’t till the next morning. As soon as I set foot on Peruvian land, I could sense the huge difference between Venezuela and Peru. The vibration of this place was higher, the people’s looks were friendlier, and the smiles on their faces were a more common view.
I had no idea how long I was going to live in the jungle or the country, but as I was walking through the airport I spotted a Machu Picchu poster and immediately knew that it was one of the things I would be seeing for sure during my stay here. How exactly and when, I was going to find out later. What I had to do now was get my suitcase and find myself a comfy spot at the airport for the night.
I went to the baggage claim and waited; soon after the suitcases started coming one by one. A beautiful German shepherd was there on duty too, sniffing every bag that came through. As the dog went by my luggage, it stuck its nose in it and barked a few times by which the police officer holding the leash was immediately alerted. I wasn’t too concerned since I knew the contents of my bag so strutted toward them and pulled my bag off the line. The police officer politely requested that I followed him. He took me to a small room where I had to open my suitcase.
As it turned out the reason behind all this was a banana I forgot I had stuck in one of the side pockets. Apparently, the import of food was forbidden. The banana was confiscated, I was asked to fill out a pile of documents, and the dog was granted a few kisses from the police officer and me for a job well done. What a fluff ball he was! I had plenty of time anyways so I didn’t mind the adventure.
The following night I spent on three seats. The flight to Pucallpa was at 7 am and when the clock stroke 5 I was already lined up to board. I had a window seat on the first row so after take-off I put on my headphones, turned up the volume, and closed my eyes. Considering the number of flights I took recently, flying had become uninteresting to my persona. Twenty minutes into the flight though I felt some pressure so I opened my eyes. I could see the trouble in the eyes of the passenger next to me who informed me that due to some technical problems with the aircraft we had turned around and were returning to Lima.
Twenty minutes later the plane descended over the runway. The engines were making loud noises and then went silent for a while; that went on for a few minutes. I could feel some terrible tension in the air of the cabin. From the window, I could see that the plane was very close to the ground but it was still flying at a very high speed. Then suddenly the pilot pointed the nose up and we started climbing up again. We made another descend over the Pacific Ocean shore and attempted a second try at landing, which was again not successful. Cries, prayers, and screams could be heard in the cabin… On the third try the pilot decided to land the plane despite the high speed; it was a bumpy and shaky landing but happily without accidents.
An hour and a half later we were already flying on another plane, heading in the same direction, and about to land soon. I was a little troubled whether the woman from the mail was going to be waiting for me at the airport since the flight got delayed. The aircraft started descending and I could see the city from my little window. It was a view I had never encountered before – huts most of which had thatched roofs; there were a few bigger houses scattered around with unpaved roads connecting them. I started wondering if the plane could make a safe landing on an unpaved runway…
I came to realize that the runway was in fact paved and so were the main streets in the town. My suitcase was destructed and was sadly even missing the wheels. Dragging it behind me I slowly made my way out of the airport, and there to my surprise, I saw Silvi – the woman from the email.