Broken bones and beer

Years ago I worked with a man who lost several fingers in a work accident. As a teenager he got his hand caught in an industrial appliance in a pizza kitchen (or pizza factory). The accident caused him such shock and pain that when one of his coworkers grabbed my friend by his other hand to pull him away from the machine, he broke several bones in his coworker’s hand from squeezing her hand so hard as she pulled him away.

The other day I was on a flight from Cusco to Lima, with a stop in Puerto Maldonado. A “dogleg” in industry speak. Two ladies in traditional Peruvian clothing were sitting nearby, an older lady in the row behind me and a woman about my age next to me. I had the aisle seat and she had the middle seat with nobody by the window.

I dozed of a bit while the plane was taxiing for takeoff but when the plane lifted off I opened my eyes to look outside. As I turned my head towards the window, the woman next to me lunged towards me, grabbed my arm in such abject fear as I’ve never seen before in my life. White with fear she grabbed my hand so hard that all I could think of was my old friend breaking the bones in his coworker’s hand.

As my seat mate screamed people all around us started calling for the flight attendants. I tried every distraction I could think of:

“Where are you going?”
“First time flying?”
“You live in Cusco?”

While she was still wrapped around me tighter than Leo and Kate in Titanic I learned she’s from Andahuaylillas and was traveling to Lima to visit her daughter, who’d moved there to work when she was 14. After a while the flight attendants literally pried this poor woman off of me and she eventually calmed down a bit. The flight attendants were very good during this ordeal, which was almost surprising because in Peru many people get hired for customer service type positions by virtue of being young and cute, not by professional ability.

At the stopover in Puerto a young man took the window seat, he was a rather handsome European looking guy, tall, blond hair, early 20s. The flight attendants said to the lady beside me “if you have any problems now you have 2 good looking young men on either side of you to help!”

Of course I feigned surprise and excitement


The woman beside me had relaxed by the time we were descending into Lima and would turn around occasionally to talk in Quechua to the older lady behind us, who was also dressed in traditional Peruvian attire. As we started to descend into Lima the older lady, who looked to be in her 80s, had a bit of a scratchy throat. One of the flights attendants asked if she wanted a cup of water.

She paused for a moment and replied: “Can I have a beer instead?”

Not in “I wanna get waisted kind of way” but rather, “It’s 5 in the afternoon, I’m 80 years old and traveling by myself, and I’d like a beer”.

A bunch of people snickered when the woman asked for a beer instead of water but the flight attendants didn’t care. In Peru jobs as flight attendants are still respected, something to be desired. Flight attendants are typically educated, ambitious, cute young people from so called “good families”. I liked that you could tell for maybe the first time in their lives, those flight attendants wanted to be just like that old traditional lady, strong and confident.

* * *

A special song for my Mamacita Linda.

Featured: Don’t land in the Pisco!

I finally got my Peruvian pilot’s license a few weeks ago. I’d worked off and on over the past 6 months to convert my licenses. Didn’t have time or money to work on my license full-time, that’s why it took so long. Plus everything had to happen in Lima… that’s one of the bad things about Peru, when you live in the provinces you have to go to Lima for practically any significant government issue.

Anyway, here’s a teaser from my flying blog about taking the flight test for my Peruvian pilot’s license:

Coming back to the checkride, as we were doing maneuvers just north of the “Rio Pisco”, about 10 miles north of the Pisco airport, the DGAC examiner cuts the engine. All 105 mighty horses in the Cessna 152 decided to quit on me at the very same instant.
We were at 3,500 feet at the time. I looked to Pisco airport in the distance and realized I couldn’t make the airport. I told the examiner I’d land on some green fields I spotted nearby.

For all the excitement go read “Don’t land in the pisco!” Since you’re reading this, you already know it all ended well 😉

Sign said “funky foreign people need not apply”

I’ve been trying to get a pilot job at a major airline in Peru, my dream-job really. Talked to the screening team today, and while they were exceedingly nice and said they would love to talk to me, they won’t…. Why? the company is only hiring Peruvian nationals at this time, and even though I am a resident of Peru, I can’t get any further in the process until I obtain my Peruvian citizenship, for which I am eligible later this year.

The worst part? The young lady I was speaking to also said they would consider a few applicants from close nationalities such as Spaniards, Colombians or Ecuadorians. Really!!!

Discrimination sucks…

Flying with baby

We had a very good flight with the baby from Lima, Peru, to Amsterdam yesterday, a 12.5 hour intercontinental flight with a 5-month old baby. So here are a few tips about how to fly with a baby.

First: Tank up before flying, make sure baby’s tummie is good and full. The same thing is true for adults BTW, flying on an empty stomach is a bad idea.

Get a good meal before flying

Get a good meal before flying

You also want to keep the baby awake before the flight (in our case the flight left at 8:35pm), and, stating the obvious, change diaper before you get on the plane.

Second: Pick a fun place to go.

Lima airport departures

Lima airport departures

Look at that screen, are there any of those destinations you wouldn’t want to go to? Iquitos, Arequipa, Tarapoto, all places I want to go. I mean, if you’re possibly going to annoy 200 perfect strangers with a fussy baby, it better be worth it 😉

Third: Get all the necessary supplies to fly with baby. Diapers, bibs, a change of clothes, some extra baby food, paper towels, toys, etc. Brianna was also checking out some new sunglasses at the mall before we left… but we ended up not getting them because they made her look too pituca.

Baby trying out new sunglasses

Baby trying out new sunglasses

Fourth: Pick good seats…

Baby on airplane

Baby on airplane

The best seats for flying with a baby are in the front of the airplane, because there’s less noise and vibration.

And the most important part about flying with a baby: Request a crib!!!

Baby in crib on airplane

Baby in crib on airplane

Baby crib aboard KLM airlines

Baby crib aboard KLM airlines

Before we left, Patricia read online that most airlines carry baby cribs on long flights, which KLM confirmed on its website. We called ahead of time to request a crib, and the baby slept for most of the flight.

How we got our good seats is a story in itself. KLM opened the flight for online checkin 30 hours before departure. We checked out the seating chart beforehand and decided we wanted the first row behind business class, where there is extra legroom and a nearby bathroom. Right when the online checkin opened up I tried to select our favorite seats, but to no avail… No matter how desperately I clicked away on my laptop, I was unable to change my seat from the dreaded 43B (second-to-last row, middle seat). So I called KLM (thank goodness for Skype) and was told that I couldn’t select my seats online because I was traveling with a baby, but that our seats could be changed at the airport. We decided to go early to the airport and when we asked if we could have better seats, the agent told us he had already given us the first 2 seats for baby, 10 H&J. First row behind business class, with extra legroom, space for a baby crib and a nearby bathroom. The exact same seats we tried to select online! Que buena suerte!!!

Other than that, the cabin crew aboard KLM was very nice, Brianna even got her very own KLM bib!!!

UPDATE 12/22: while flying with baby was easy, adjusting to the time difference (6 hours) has been H*LL. Nada de dormir at night, wake her up in the morning and half hour later she falls back asleep. It takes her until 2:00pm-ish to fully wake up, and until 4:00am-ish to finally sleep at night.

HELP: any experience with babies adjusting to a time difference, please let us know!!!