Scott World Tour


After getting up at 4 AM my flight landed in Lima around midnight.  After heading through customs I got to the arrival area where my scheduled ride was not there to meet me (a common theme in Peru, but more on that later).  It took me over 30 minutes to find an official taxi to take me to my hostel.  In Lima, anyone can be a taxi driver.  All you need is a car.  No license required.  However, it makes for a dodgy situation at midnight because its the equivalent of getting into a stranger’s car.  So the safe bet is to take an official airport taxi.

Plaza des Armas

Plaza des Armas

As we left the terminal Lima was dark, dirty, and empty.  There was a cop on EVERY corner.  Just what I needed to feel nice and comfy on the first night of my trip.  We got to my hostel without incident, except for some bumps and bruises as the taxi driver drove like a madman.  I got into my room, which was cold and noisy.  Pillow must be spanish for “sandbag”, because that’s what I felt underneath my head.  As I lay there in the dark I thought “What the hell am I doing here?”

Lima is a mainly overcast, dirty, Latin American city.  It has no charm or character not even in it’s main square , Plaza des Armas.  On my first day I walked there and didn’t find much to see or do.  There are some churches, catacombs, and museums to see, but they didn’t interest me much.  In fact, my mood matched the gloomy overcast sky.  So I did what any backpacker dealing with initial jitters and homesickness would do.  I booked myself into the Radisson in Miraflores for a couple of nights.

Miraflores is a suburb of Lima that is situated on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  It has all the comforts of home.  There is a mall on the cliffs called LarcoMar that has Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and of all things, Hooters.  You can go surfing, paragliding, or waste your money in the casino of the Sheraton hotel across the street.  It was paradise and a couple of grande vanilla lattes was just what I needed to feel better.  I started to get used to being on my own in a foreign country and interacting with people.  Within a few days I knew more Spanish then I thought possible within such a short time.

Miraflores

Miraflores

In Lima, the traffic is ridiculous.  There are few traffic lights or signs.  Crossing the street is like playing Frogger.  Intersections consist of a mass of cars trying to keep going or get through the intersection, inching their way across.  Honking cars and belching black smoke are the norm, but yet it works.  I never saw any pedestrians get hit or any cars smash into each other.

One last thing about Lima, and Peru in general.  The plumbing stinks, literally and figuratively.  Most toilets have a waste basket next to them where you place your used toilet paper.  Otherwise, flushing paper down the toilet can cause some major problems with the pipes.  The irony of all this?  There is never any toilet paper so bring your own roll.  That’s what most Peruvians do.  I’m glad I did.

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Hey everyone, I apologize for dragging my feet on posting, but I’ve been dealing with some homesickness and altitude fatigue (it is about 11,000 ft here in Cusco, Peru).  I’ll try to post some stories soon.  In the meantime, I posted some pics of Lima in my Flickr account.  Here’s the link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/24363966@N05/sets/72157607865582481/

Tomorrow I head to Machupicchu, the lost city of the Incas.  Even though there will be many tourists there I can’t help but feel like Indiana Jones exploring an archaeological treasure.  More to follow…

I gave notice this week and told my bosses that the 26th would be my last day.  They were overwhelmingly positive about the whole thing.  They are sad to see me go, but I think they understood my need to undertake this adventure.  I am trying to repay them by doing the best I can to make my departure easier on my co-workers.

The scary thing about all this is now that I’ve given notice I’ve basically commited myself to going on this trip.  I have so much to do and little time to do it.  I’ve sold some furniture, took care of some pre-trip errands, and finished getting my meds and shots (more on how I spent less than I thought on health related costs in a future post).

I also went to STA Travel today to find a cheaper ticket from Lima to New York.  They are an amazing help!  The best price I could find on my own was $860 and they found me a ticket for $710.  I will definately be contacting them from the road to help me with flights.  If you’re in Seattle the STA Travel office is located in the U-District.

A great part of any trip, if its for one week or one year, is the ability to just lay there and relax whether its on the beach, in a hammock, or in bed. However, for some, the fun of laying in bed gets old because they’ve come down with one of the many nasty diseases that can hit travelers. Keeping that in mind, I decided to go get some vaccinations to reduce the chances that I’ll be lounging around somewhere in a nasty feverish sweat. However, shots can be expensive. I’m looking at about $600 in costs for the vaccinations and that’s even with help from health insurance. That brings me to a few good points.

Shop around to find the best value: Go to your doctor’s office, travel clinics, and public health clinics to find the best prices. You don’t have to get all your shots from the same place so mix and match to find the lowest costs. However, be careful of consultation, per visit, and administration fees for each shot. I’m speaking from experience as I got caught off guard paying $15 for each shot. Instead, I could’ve saved about $35 by going to the public health clinic. That’s several nights lodging in many countries.

Use those rare health insurance benefits: If you’re not going to have health insurance while you travel then it makes sense to check your current insurance benefits and have them incur some of the costs before you go. I get up to $300 a year for preventitive medicine. That’s not much, but it will help. Also, find out what your insurance will and will not cover. I wound up paying the full cost of my yellow fever vaccinations because it was not covered, but insurance covered Hep A/Hep B and consultation costs. This is the time to get out the microscope so
you can read the fine print of your policy.

Get all your vaccinations documented: Some countries require an international certificate of vaccination (often known as the yellow booklet) in order to be allowed entry. It’s almost as important as your passport. Besides, it will help to know your vaccination history if you get sick while travelling. Make sure that the information (personal, vaccinations) is correct to avoid worries at the border.

Don’t get all your shots at once: If you do you’ll probably end up feeling like shit for a day or more. Some vaccinations require a course of several shots to be taken within several months. So don’t leave it until the last minute either. The Twinrix (Hep A/Hep B) combo I am currently taking requires three shots. The second needs to be taken one month after the first and the last shot is taken five to six months after the first.

A good source of information is guidebooks and the CDC website. You can find out which shots are required and which are recommended for the areas that you want to visit. But don’t be afraid to wing it if you aren’t sure where you travels will take you. These vaccines can be administered while on the road. Just make sure the clinic you go to is clean and they use sterile needles.

Here’s a list of the vaccinations I am getting, plus their costs:

Shots:

Twinrix (Hep A/Hep B): 109.60 per shot * 3 = 328.80
Tetanus/Diptheria : 52.60
Polio: 49.60
Yellow Fever: 105.60
One time “Counseling” fee: $134.60 (Expensive, but I don’t have to pay for future visits)

Prescriptions:

Oral Typhoid Vaccine: $52
Malaria Pills (DOXYCYCLINE): $30 for 200 pills (These need to be taken daily before, during, and after visiting an affected area)
Travellers Diarrhea: (CIPRO): $21 for 18 pills (Good for everywhere but India and Thailand)
Travellers Diarrhea: (AZITHROMYCIN): $21 for 6 pills (Good for India and Thailand and also for sinus infections)

Total: $795.20 (but hopefully down to $495.20 with insurance benefits)

It’s a lot of money, but it’s worth it. I’ll probably get sick at some point during the year, but hopefully it will be a minor case of Montezuma’s Revenge or Delhi Belly (call it what you will). Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to enjoy myself instead of spending quality time with Hepatits B.