As the aforementioned Aeropuerto Hiltòn did not, in fact, exist, I had to take a cab into the city early Thursday morning to find accommodations. It was 1:30 a.m. by the time I arrived at the Best Western Embajadores, which if I know my Spanish means "Impregnators." An odd name for a hotel, but I've always been a big fan of the Best Western hotel chain, which is at this point a clear front-runner for Official Hotel Chain of the Phutatorian World-Empire (though I won't yet rule out Motel 6 until I've reviewed their bid).
Reception was closing at the Best Western Impregnators, but the good people at the counter not only gave me a room they offered me a discounted "Tarifa Super-Embajador." It may be that something is lost in the translation, and it's really "Super Manly-Man Rate," or something like that. Or word is out about my affair with President Arroyo (in that last AP photo, she did look a bit rotund in the belly).
Anyway, it took most of Thursday morning and about thirty phone calls to the airport to get my wheelie-bag released from Security. After the Other Phutatorius knocked me out, a security guard had approached my bag and called out to nearby patrons to claim it. As I was lying on the floor unconscious and in plain view some thirty feet away, I was not in a position to respond to these solicitations, and so the guard confiscated it. They weren't exactly in a hurry to resolve the misunderstanding I had to go up the chain to a supervisor, then patch in the U.S. Ambassador's assistant before they would release the bag. And then they wanted to stick me with the cost of delivering the bag downtown! That didn't fly, Brother/Sister. There are some things on which a traveler has to take a stand.
The bag arrived in my room at around four o'clock in the afternoon. I dropped a three-peso tip on the bellman who brought it, then dumped its contents out on the floor to take an inventory. This for two reasons: (1) to make sure none of these confiscation-happy Seguridaddies had made off with my electric shaver, and (2) to verify that they hadn't planted illegal drugs in any of the side pockets. It would be just like these bastards to pick a fight with me on the phone, then kick down the door and arrest me on a trumped-up possession charge. And once you get a record down here, that shit gets in the Interpol database, and your hopes and dreams of world domination are pretty much dashed.
I went through the pile of belongings on the floor everything seemed to be there, which was a plus. As for what Airport Security might have planted none of the usual bags of incriminating white powder. But in the top front pocket of the bag I did find a manila envelope ah, Manila! What a night we had together, Gloria! sealed and addressed to me.
I opened it.
Inside was a rental-car voucher and a marked-up road map of southern Peru. A Stickie on the map read, ¡FOLLOW THIS ROUTE! Within the hour I was standing in front of the Hertz counter at Jorge Chavez (would you believe they have a special Impregnator Line there, too?), wondering aloud why you can't get a rental car with a cassette deck anywhere on Earth. I have this iPod tape-adaptor, you see, and I never get to use it on a road trip. Anyway, by sunset I was on the road into the mountains, rocking out to Jimmy Atahualpa's Quechuan interpretation of "Stairway to Heaven" on rural Peruvian AM radio
Oh! The master's coming down the hall. I can tell his footsteps by the clogs he wears from a kick-line he can whip one though the air, knock an enemy senseless with it from fifty yards. Saw him do it to a crash-test dummy in a class demo. Pretty freakin' sweet. I'll learn that in the eighth week. In the meantime, the students go barefoot.
Anyway, gotta go!