Our time in Central America flew by… Five weeks in three coutries, filled with diving, hiking, long jam sessions, wild nights, unforgettable people, unexpected encounters, and action-packed adventures made for an epic sampler of Central America and a superb start to our trip.
Now for the 24+ hours travel time to get down to La Paz, Bolivia. We braced ourselves as we planned the upcoming day: head to the airport in Managua, Nicaragua, fly north (away from our destination) to San Salvador for our first layover (2.5 hours), then down to Lima, Peru for a 20 hour layover, and then finally to La Paz, where we’d arrive just past midnight at 13,000 ft in a city of 3 million. Ready, set, whooaa – snacks first.
We hit up a supermarket in Managua and loaded up – fruit, peanut butter, tortillas, chips, crackers, candy, all the essentials. Now we were ready.
Managua -> San Salvador
Everything went smoothly at the airport in Managua, and we left for San Salvador in good spirits as the sun was going down.
Once we had made it to our layover in San Salvador, we found some good spirits too. For some reason, every one of the 20+ duty-free stores was sampling high quality whiskey (half of them were Johnny Walker black and red). I went to take a pee and twenty minutes later, I walked back to our seats with a nice buzz and not a cent less in my wallet.
I took Alex on a tour of these sample-stands, and soon we were happy to going out of our way for a layover there. We made friends with Iolani, a girl from Massachusets heading to Chile, and the time passed quickly enough.
San Salvador -> Lima
After watching How to Train Your Dragon 2 (highly recommended, Alex and I had just watched the first movie before leaving for the trip too- perfecto), it wasn’t difficult to doze off for the last couple hours of the flight.
Late night arrival at Lima’s airport, which Alex was well acquainted with. Having studied in Peru last year, he already had over 50 hours at the airport under his belt, and he was proud to say this layover would put him at over 70. We found a spot to post up and tried to get some sleep. Difficulty sleeping on the terminal chairs with the noise and light in the area brought us to the late morning, when we got up and played some music to pass the time.
When we play in public places like an airport, the main goal is usually to just not piss anyone off, but Alex went beyond that this time: he drew a crowd. A crowd of one, to be exact, and no, she wasn’t the most refined music critic, but Alex was content.
“She’s the only fan I’ll ever need,” he said.
After the fan’s mother carried her away, we were back to playing for ourselves, but that was fine with us. Stephen gave me my first guitar lesson and we chatted and played cards with Iolani, who had an equally long lay-over there on her way to Chile.
At first, time seemed to be passing pretty quickly, but Stephen’s hourly announements of how many hours we had left in the airport kept the clock on our minds. Finally, though, it was time, so we said goodbye to Iolani and boarded the final plane of our long transit south.
Lima -> La Paz
With separated seats for this short flight, I began Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, which a friend had recommended before my trip.
Now it was time for a 180 degree change as we arrived past midnight in La Paz, Bolivia, the world’s highest capital city, in the heart of the Andes. Warned that we should move slowly to compensate for the lack of oxygen at that altitude, I stepped very slowly off the plane, up the walkway to the terminal, and before a minute had passed I began to feel short of breath…