Thursday 30 July

Our wakeup call comes at 4.10 am. I take a very quick shower, we gather the luggage, and stumble across the road from the Birmingham airport Novotel to terminal one and the baggage drop-off point. They’ve changed the system here since I last flew. Last time we bypassed the queue nicely by virtue of our pre-printed on-line check in boarding passes, but this morning we are all in the one queue, and those who haven’t yet printed their boarding passes are doing so at three check in kiosks.

We had travelled to the airport yesterday by train and checked into the airport hotel directly across the road from terminal one. We had a comfortable room, and with quadruple glazing we heard no plane noise whatsoever. Dinner in the restaurant at first glance looked rather pricey but actually was very good. We were in bed by 10 pm.

We are on the plane by six, but people are still boarding. It turns out that there is a problem with KL1420. A light is lit on the dashboard that should not be and a technician has been called.

The problem is soon rectified, but we have missed our slot. The pilot tells us that it is stormy over Amsterdam and one runway is closed, compounding our problems. We face a delay of over an hour. This is not good news for our onwards connection to Lima. Even if we make our connection, will our luggage?

At Schipol there is no sign of the stormy weather. We walk quickly to gate F5 (a long way) and make it onto the plane. We are not the last and they do appear to be waiting for the delayed passengers. Our aircraft is named “Mount Kilimanjaro”, which seems highly appropriate!

Flight KL743 departs fifteen minutes late. We pray that our luggage is on board and settle down for a twelve and a half hour flight.

The flight is uneventful but long, eased a little by the selection of video games and films available on the seat-back screens. We land on-time and are near the first off the plane. Our luggage arrives on the carousel fairly quickly (huge relief) – Rachel’s first shortly followed by mine.

The taxi driver from the hotel, a small and quietly spoken man, is waiting for us just outside customs. We drive along the sea front to Miraflores. It isn’t really an inspiring sight – surf breaks on a grey stoney beach; grey rubble, dirty, and made dull by the grey low cloud. There is mucho trafico and it is a good hour to the hotel.

The Hostal El Patio is adequate but unfortunately our room is on the ground floor right near the exit and does not feel very private. As night falls we wander out to Parque Kennedy to find a quick snack for dinner, and then gather a bit of food and water for our bus journey tomorrow.

Feeling a bit zombie-like with jet lag we shower quickly and are in bed by half past eight.