Neuroses


This is my last day in Peru and outside the UK in two and a half years. Feelng apprehensive. 


First, there’s arriving in Heathrow. Apart from any hassles over my long absence and my emergency passport, concerned about what Heathrow Immigration will do with Amigo. Despite my advice, he hasn’t got an onward ticket out of the UK and if he as evasive to the officials as he has been to me about his future travel plans, he could have a bumpy landing. I’m not sure if and how he could contact me if he is detained for a long time or even refused entry to the UK. We don’t even have mobile phones. 

My other anxiety is about how I have changed and how people will react, and how I will cope with changes over the past two and a half years: is it possible to step into the same river twice?  

A bit rueful that I come with few visible souvenirs or presents from my travels. I wanted to travel light, and now I have space for souvenirs, I don’t have the money to buy them. 

Thinking about how I will meet old friends. I’ve arranged drinks at the Devonshire Cat in Sheffield for 23 July.  All welcome. I can even provide overnight accommodation.  Any suggestions for an equivalent venue and date in London gratefully received. 

Hail, horrors hail!


Back at the hostel after an exhausting bureaucratic paper chase. Went to the British Embassy for the third time. Security guard wouldn’t let me in at all, until eventually over-ruled by a guard who was guarding the guards themselves. After a reasonable wait, was allowed up to the land which Britannia rules up on the 23rd floor, sharing the lift with with bemedalled top brass of a minor republic. Didn’t take too long to get my emergency passport. I thought I was having a good day. And then I mentioned that my white tourist card (TAM) had also been stolen and would that cause any problems? 


 The clerk gave me a little map and an address miles away in Central Lima. The taxi delivered me unto the doors of Pandemonium, where Chaos ruled. Eventually I was directed up to the Third Circle of the Officina de Migraciones. I was ordrered to turn left and taken to the furthest queue in the most sinister corner of a large shabby hall. I eventually reached a grumpy harridan who barked that I was in the wrong queue and dismissed with a Nizami wave. I eventually found the most right wing queue in the far right of the floor. Where a poisonous Little Hitler ruled. I presented my paper. He sturmed and dranged at me in an incompressible Downfall rant, without sub-titles. Someone took pity on my soul in misery and said I needed to leave the building and get a photocopy of my emergency passport. Which I did. Unfortunately, Hitler hadn’t gone out to lunch and was still lurking in his bunker when I returned. Another rant. This time I needed to find the bank downstairs and pay 12.60 soles and return with a receipt. Another queue before I was able come back with the chit for the shit. He was half way through processing the application when a Peruvian ajumma barged in and flashed her tits at him. For the first time, he smiled. He snarled at me to wait and led the señora to room somewhere, far away from the fetid air. He eventually came back and served the other customers. I thought about flashing my tits, then thought better of it. I was finally summoned to the grille. A little more ostentatious paper shuffling and he finally shoved my passport and precious white card at me; ‘finito’ he smirked. I certainly was. And am. With Peru in particular and Latin America on General. 

I didn’t relax until I got back to the hostel and had the precious bundle under lock and key. My struggle was finally over. Hitler 7 Andrew 1. 
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

Got emergency travel doc on 3rd trip to Brit Embassy. Now have to traipse to Peruvian Migration Office 2 get stamp.

Got emergency travel doc on 3rd trip to Brit Embassy. Now have to traipse to Peruvian Migration Office 2 get stamp.

Emergency travel document


Me: Yo, dude! I lost my passport in a game of poker. 

 Heathrow Immigration Dude: No worries. Come on in. The more the merrier! 
Me: Gee, thanks hombre! 
HID: You carrin’ any drugs?
 Me: Sorry, no man! 
HID: f**k, I’m all out an’ my shift don’t end while 8! 

 The reality is rather different. If you lose your passport in Peru and you want an emergency travel document to get home, the FCO website says bring £95, two photographs, a copy of the local place report [which you pay for] and your ticket home to the British Embassy. The embassy in Peru’s website has a link to a page for making an appointment. You follow that, and it says this facility is no longer available, please send an email. The reply says you don’t need an appointment, just turn up Monday to Friday, 8am to 1 pm. 

So I turned up on Friday mornng. The British Enbassy is in posh Miraflores, high under heaven, on the foreland by the sea, on the top floors of an anonymous sky-tickler (not quite a sky-scraper). Not that you are actually allowed in the lift to get there. Monohispanoglottic security guards are there to Impound your iPad and point you to  hemisemidemianglophonic receptionistas who question you, examine your documents, and tell you to come back on Monday, when you should get the document the same day. 

So I turned up on Monday, and went through the same reception handling again. And was told to sit over there and wait.  And wait. 

Was joined by a Scot who said he had previously turned up at the embassy for the same purpose, but was asked whether he had an appointment.  After a while, we were allowed up to the hallows of the penthouse where we joined the asphodel fields of Peruvians wanting visas to the UK.  Waited for yet another wait, and  eventually was summoned to a window where I filled in something like a mortgage application and handed over my dosh and the required documents. Was given a receipt and told to come back tomorrow. 

Grrr!
Chan Chan. Near Trujillo. Peru. Keep on digging

Chan Chan. Near Trujillo. Peru. Keep on digging

Mural. Chan Chan

Mural. Chan Chan

Chimu society. Some things never change.

Chimu society. Some things never change.

Don’t panic, Capt Milton


Immediate panic over. Turns out that the urgent requests for me to phone about my flight from Lima to Lomdon were only to tell me that it was now going to leave Lima earlier than scheduled. Went to the British Embassy here in Lima. They told me to come back on Monday. Emergency travel document for me to travel to UK likely to be available the same day. 


So all my original plans for travel to the UK are back on course. 

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse


When we arrived at Trujillo bus station, the ATM swallowed one of Amigo’s card. 


When we went to a travel agent to buy internal air tickets, we were told I couldn’t travel on an internal flight because I didn’t have a passport. And I wouldn’t be able to board the flights I had already booked. 

I have just received an email from the company through which I made the booking of the flight to London asking them to contact them urgently. They had been trying to contact me at my London phone number. I think the problem is that they couldn’t get payment from my blocked card for my ticket to London, so I suspect I don’t have a confirmed flight. But without a confirmed flight, I can’t get a temporary travel document to get back to the UK. Catch 22. 

I don’t think my Skype is working to landlines because of the block on my debit cards. 

At this moment, I am in despair.