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5 a.m. in Lima, Peru

I know I have it somewhere. Where the fuck did I put it? Putain de bordel de merde… Nope, not that. Mierda. Ah, there we go. Found my Spanish, buried under the three other languages I speak often enough in Canada.

Excuse me, the left side of my brain is a mess right now.

Well, yeah, sorry. It’s 5 a.m. and we’ve been travelling for 18 hours.

Some of us are tired.

“Mommy! I have a million of questions about Peru. Why are there so many houses and buildings? Oh, cactus! I thought only Mexico had cactuses.”

“Yep, there are plenty of cactus in Peru. As for the buildings… well, big cities shouldn’t be new to you, it’s pretty normal to have… like, streets with buildings. You just don’t see them as much in Ottawa because you mostly go from home to school and back and to yéye and năinai in suburbia.”

“Wow. It’s 4:30 a.m.”

“I know, I know… I think we’re almost here. Stop checking your watch!”

We knew it would be a long flight with a late arrival in Lima—but it wasn’t supposed to be that late.


It all started around 11:30 a.m. in Ottawa. Lovely day for air travel, for once. No blizzard (we had some over the weekend) and no polar vortex (conveniently forecast once we would be gone).

Feng’s parents dropped us off at the Ottawa/Macdonald–Cartier International Airport. We completed the check-in process, got our boarding passes, said goodbye to Feng’s parent and went through security.

I mean, we waited in line to go through security.

Despite the very manageable queue—Ottawa isn’t exactly a major hub—it took 30 minutes to finally have the chance to put our belongings in a white plastic bin and swear we didn’t have anything in our pockets.

Just when we thought we were done, Feng’s bag was searched thoroughly—toothpaste and various bottles considered as “liquids” were all under 100 ml but they had to be inspected by a supervisor anyway. The laptop was swabbed for traces of explosive. I thought he was going to be sent for a full-body scan because apparently, in Ottawa, a 45-year-old Chinese-Canadian dad with wife and kid is a potential threat to national security.

Meanwhile, I smuggled three lighters, food and various creams, same lineup and same security guys. Go figure.

Ottawa/Macdonald–Cartier International Airport
Ottawa/Macdonald–Cartier International Airport
Ottawa/Macdonald–Cartier International Airport, Mark "watching the bags" (very funny, Mark)
Ottawa/Macdonald–Cartier International Airport, Mark “watching the bags” (very funny, Mark)

Never mind. We were right on time to board the… ahem, “plane.”

“Plane” with quote marks because it was a De Havilland Dhc-8 Series 300, aka “Mark, exactly like your LEGO propeller plane.”

Boarding the Ottawa-Montreal flight (yes, that's the plane behind me...)
Boarding the Ottawa-Montreal flight (yes, that’s the plane behind me…)

Somehow, Air Canada managed to hand out pretzels, cookies and water during the 30-minute bumpy flight—such dedicated customer service was probably unnecessary but hey, Mark loved it.

Taking off in Ottawa
Taking off in Ottawa
Taking off in Ottawa
Taking off in Ottawa
In the air between Ottawa and Montreal
In the air between Ottawa and Montreal
Landing in Montreal (there's less snow than in Ottawa!)
Landing in Montreal (there’s less snow than in Ottawa!)
Landing in Montreal (there's less snow than in Ottawa!)
Landing in Montreal (there’s less snow than in Ottawa!)

In Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, AC1942 to Lima was “on time,” leaving at 5:20 p.m. The terminal was strangely empty. The guys shared a burger, Mark burned energy on the play set (great idea, Montreal airport people!) and I worked.

We had very, very low expectations for the flight because it was operated by Air Canada Rouge, the low-cost subsidiary of Air Canada.

“Sorry, no TV on that plane,” I warned Mark a few days before the trip. “But you can have the tablet.”

“S’okay, mom. At least, we will have some food. I like to eat my dinner in the plane.”

“Ahem… they may not have food either, sorry. It’s a really cheap version of Air Canada.”


We boarded the plane on time.

However, it didn’t do what planes are supposed to do once everyone is seated and carry-on luggage are stuffed in the overhead bins—short announcement, taxiing and flying in the air. We were most definitely not moving.

I fell asleep. When I woke up, we were still in Montreal, on the way to Li—… I mean, the de-icing station.

“It’s almost 7 p.m., mom.”

I shrugged. The pilot announcement did acknowledge we were late but naively, I thought we would make up some time in the air.

Waiting to take off in Montreal
Waiting to take off in Montreal

Air Canada Rouge turned out to be very similar to Air Canada. We had blankets and pillows, food and drinks were served, we had enough legroom (probably more than with Air Transat). It was a regular flight—the crew ran out of pasta meals, someone got sick and the “is there a doctor on board” call was made, bathrooms looked gross four hours into the flight and we dozed on and off.

Since we didn’t have the usual in-flight entertainment system, there was no real-time flight info—I had no idea where in the world we were or what route we were taking. I didn’t know how much longer the trip would be either. Not that it mattered, I guess.

It was pitch dark when we landed in Lima.

“It’s 2:50 a.m.”

“Thank you, Mark. Shit, it’s much later than planned.”

We went through immigration and we waited forever around the luggage carrousel.

All in all, it was past 4:15 a.m. when we finally took a taxi to the hotel, in Miraflores.

“Okay, guys. You can take a shower, I’m gonna go see if I can find anything open at… 5 a.m. Oh, fuck. Never mind, I’ll give it shot, we need drinks and food.”

And so I left the hotel on a hunting and gathering mission, not quite sure what the exchange rate was and what could possibly be open that late or that early.

Lima was still sleeping. I was looking for a main street and I found one three blocks from the hotel. I was hoping for a 24/7 gas station—I was lucky, I noticed what looked like a convenience store. “¡Listo!.” Yep, sounded like a convenience store.

I crossed the road.

Inside, a clerk was making sandwiches.


I grabbed water, soda, cookies and two empanadas. Mission accomplished.

Mark was sleeping when I came back and Feng was in the shower. I took off my clothes and dump everything in my dirty laundry plastic bag. Technically, clothes you only wore in airports and during a flight aren’t that dirty but they feel dirty, some weird eau de voyage you can’t get rid of.

The sun was rising when Feng went to bed.

I took a shower, ate and read for a while, not quite sure whether I’d be able to sleep.

Then I passed out in bed.

So yeah, Lima.

I mean, yay! Lima!

Peru stamp
Peru stamp in my passport
Mark's first impression of Lima
Mark’s first impression of Lima

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