Cycling The Globe

A Cycle Touring Expedition Around The World

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Day 1495 – 1506, Lima: Fighting the System

Posted by Thomas Andersen Posted on Oct - 26 - 2014

In Lima I based myself at a hostel in the fancy Miraflores neighborhood and prepared to wait. I had ordered a new tent from the States since MSR up there had been so kind to give me a nice discount. I knew from the tracker that it had already arrived in Lima airport, but, getting it out of customs would turn out to be a proper nightmare.

Lima has many neighborhoods with all their different characteristics. Taking a bus from one area to another felt like going to a completely new city. Miraflores is the fancy shopping neighborhood where the gringos hang out, then there is the business districts, the historical downtown with colonial plazas and buildings, the bohemian Barranco with all the bars, and finally plenty of ugly residential areas that reminded me of eastern European cities. When I arrived in the city the local buses seemed impossible to figure out, but I was soon enough moving around like a local.

I then spent some days at the nice facilities of the Radio Club Peruano OA4O, speaking with friends around the world on the radio and getting to know the local radio amigos.

I didn’t exactly expect it to be easy to retrieve my tent from the customs, but it turned out that I had completely underestimated how bureaucratic and corrupt things really are here. First of all I was informed that I needed to pay a significant amount of money per day for storage of the tent in the airport until released from customs. Then I needed to fill out complicated papers that people who speak Spanish don’t even understand. After filling them out by hand I was informed to fill them out by computer. Then one number was not written correctly and I had to send the forms in again…

At the radio club I had met Jack OA4TT, and American who has lived in Lima for the last 20 years with his wonderful wife Judy. One afternoon we met for lunch and then checked out the pre-inca ruins right in the center of Miraflores. At this time of the year Lima is usually still covered by the coastal fog, but this afternoon we were enjoying full sunshine.

The final blow regarding the tent came after 12 days of waiting, when I got an email saying that a specialist had now looked at the tent and decided that it was not worth 300 but 500 dollars. Not only would I have to pay taxes based on this amount, but the “fee” for adjusting the valuation was 83 dollars. Together with the price I was supposed to pay for storage per day this just didn’t make any sense anymore. I think I will just have to think of the price I have already payed for the tent as “lessons learned” and move on.

Fighting the Peruvian system could easily make you dislike the whole country, but that would be unfair. In fact, people like Aldo in Arequipa, the amigos at the Radio Club Peruano, and Patrizia who I first met in Cuzco, are easily some of the friendliest people I have met on the whole trip. I guess it often goes like this; the worse the system the nicer the people.

Yet, if I continue to loose money like this (my phone got stolen in Arequipa, and I have also tried to send a check from Denmark which has ended up in some black whole in the postal system) I will be bankrupt soon. I think it’s time to get back on the bike and aim for Ecuador.

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2 Responses so far.

  1. Jane says:

    Hi Tom, it’s Jane from Australia here. I do hope you don’t have more financial problems over there. The situation with the tent sounds like a nightmare. How frustrating. I am glad the local people are nice though. What a shame the system is corrupt. Amyway, I hope you make some good mileage and enjoy your adventures in other regions without having to deal with bureaucracy too much! Greetings from Brisbane! 🙂

  2. Hi Jane! It was indeed frustrating, but hey, only about money! Now I’m one again back in the Andes Mountains ready for some more hiking. Pictures coming soon. Best wishes all the way to Australia from here! Thomas