Right now though, I am on day 14 in Lima, and cabin fever is setting in, with still 3 days to go until I fly out. Getting in to Lima was a bit of a trial - there is a major through road that keeps you out of the city centre - but having just lept blindly from it hoping to discover my whereabouts on my feeble Lonely Planet map, I discovered I was lost in the dodgy part of town, so adopted the new strategy (and what a great time for new strategies, I might add) of paying a taxi driver to lead me to where I wanted to go. Not just a hat rack, my friends, not just a hat rack.
The hostal I was hoping to use was full, as were most of the others I approached (it was a holiday weekend after all), but one had spaces for the next night and a garden out back, so the parking was sorted, and I suffered through one night in a private hotel room before setting up camp in a dormitory in one of the 4 Flying Dog Hostals around El Óvalo in Miraflores. Perfick.
I have spent the last 2 weeks mostly avoiding spending money where possible, as I knew that at some point I would be cutting off an arm and a leg to get the bike back to NZ. Therefore, other than the obligatory souvenir shopping that I have now been able to do, on account of not having to transport said goodies around the continent, I have hidden in the TV room or the sun lounge, dismantled and cleaned my bike thoroughly, or walked the streets of Miraflores to fill my days. There are tours I could sign up on, obviously, but having already seen pretty much everything they could hope to show me somewhere else on my travels, I figured there was little point. Also, being on the home straight as it were, I have lost motivation almost completely to sit on buses and be a tourist. If I still had months ahead of me to travel, then I'd be right up for it, don't get me wrong, but I have accepted that its all over for this trip, and am just keen to get home.
On top of all that, there has been the arrangements for the bike to make. In fairness to Pacific Anchor Line, in whom I am entrusting my noble steed, despite the foot dragging that went on at the start of the process, they have been pretty good. Not very on the ball with setting me up with an agent that spoke English, mind you, so struggling through all new shipping vocabulary was rather tricky, but generally efficient in all other respects. I hope. It remains to be seen exactly where / when my bike arrives, and whether I have the appropriate documentation to claim it, but that will be fun and games for when I get back to NZ. Trying to decipher emails that were written in Spanish then translated with Babelfish, or some other inadequate website tool, in to English has been interesting to say the least. It pretty much arrives in my in-box as Gibberish, and an obscure dialect of Gibberish at that, so in the end I asked them to re-send everything in Spanish and got the staff at the hostal to translate it for me.
The up-shot of it all is that I took the bike to the port in the back of a truck (didn't want to get it dirty again, and besides, I had to drain the fuel tank and remove the battery) on Tuesday, got it crated up (well, put inside a wooden frame and wrapped in clingfilm), said a little prayer to the gods of motorcycle transportation, and left it for the Peruvian dock workers to put on the right ship. I was marginally concerned that they didn't feel it was necessary for me to put my name or address anywhere on the finished article, but I insisted, so with a bit of luck....
I also had to hand over my passport for the customs clearance amid assurances that it would be returned to me by Thursday afternoon at the latest. It is now Friday morning, and still no sign, but the latest Enigma code from PAL promises it will be with me this afternoon at 3pm. Lets hope so, its the weekend tomorrow so they won't do anything then, and I fly out on Monday, which would be cutting it a bit fine. But hey, they're professionals, right? Right? Hmmmm.
Richard would no doubt be amused to hear that I actually miss having my bike parked up nearby. Yes, Rich, I have grown, if not to love my bike exactly, then certainly to be very fond of it. Not fond of the rack, mind you, I hate the rack with its fragile breakiness and constant need for repairs and attention, but I can't really fault the bike, with its powers of bounce that were tested to the full, and its ability to run in a virtual vacuum at the top of the mountains.
I think I will call a halt for today, but before I leave Lima I will have a crack at a Golden Moments edition. Another one more for me than for you, but please feel free to look over my e-shoulder as I commit my thoughts to the interweb. And now I'm off to go surfing. Not in the quite-possibly-polluted-and-certainly-very-cold waters off the coast in Lima, but in the lounge with the TV remote. Don't judge me til you've ridden 30,000km in South America. Toodle pip.