Thursday, October 11, 2007

#18 Peru Updates

These are a series of updates sent to riders on the Peru Tours

#18 Peru Updates

Arriving at Lima Airport Customs
On the plane the flight attendant will give you a Declaration of Import Form asking what extra items you are bringing into the country. It is easy to answer the questions on this form. When you leave the airplane you will need to have your passport with you because your first stop is the customs check-in line.

Be sure to keep the little white piece of paper with the inspection form. Clip this white piece of paper inside your passport. You need it for the return trip. It will cost you $4 to get a new one if you lose it.

After you go through the line at customs you will wait for your baggage near the baggage claim carousel. Sometime this wait can be 30 to 45 minutes because they are checking bags coming off the plane with drug dogs. Your bike case will probably come through the back wall doorway and not be on the baggage carousel.

While you are waiting...this is a good time to exchange some money at the Money Exchange Booth near baggage claim. More details later.

Baggage Claim and Search
Get a rolling luggage cart at baggage claim and put our bike case and gear bag on the cart then go toward the crowds of people waiting outside.

Depart through an inspection gate. You will be asked to push a button to activate a random search alert. About 25% of passengers are stopped and asked to step over to the search area. If you are not stopped you will proceed out to the airport lobby area. If you are stopped and searched you will be asked to open your bags and bike case as the officials search your bag.

The officials are looking for drugs and new items not declared at customs. I was stopped and questioned once because I had several boxes of new inner tubes and bike tires. Package your cycling equipment in clear zip-lock bags. Your bicycle should look old with dusty tires, so the officials know you are not importing a new bike.

Meeting at the Airport
When you arrive at the Lima airport terminal lobby area there will be hundreds of local people waiting for their family members getting off the plane. You will feel like a Rock Star at the music awards. There will be a big fenced area and there will be crowds of people behind the fence.

Go toward the glass doors to go outside. Lon and Vioricka will be waiting for you near the glass doors outside on the sidewalk. There will be hundreds of taxi drivers pulling you toward their cars. Don’t go with them! We will find you since you will be hauling a bike case. We will meet you and walk outside the length of the terminal to the LEFT LUGGAGE area. You will leave your bike case there and take your gear bag to your hotel.

EMERGENCY PLAN.....print and carry this page with you

If you cannot find Lon or Vioricka or they can’t find you, we will meet at the INTERNET Cafe upstairs near the food court. The INTERNET area is at the far end of the terminal above the Domestic Flight Arrival area. At the INTERNET Cafe you can write Lon a message that you are at the airport. Lon will be sending you a similar message about where he is.

Use both these e-mail addresses for Lon and

We have had problems in the past when riders flights were canceled and they changed planes to different airlines. Send Lon an e-mail about your change of plans if you can find a computer at your departing airport. Otherwise go to the INTERNET Cafe in Lima and we will find you.

You can use the Airport INTERNET Cafe for about $1.00 for 20 minutes. If you want to send a message home there will be a free computer to use at the hotel. Lima has lots of public Internet Cafes which cost about $1.00 per hour.

Peru Computer Hint
In Peru the keyboards are different. There in no @ symbol. You need to press

ALT key plus 64 to make the @ sign. Press ALT64

Changing Money
At the airport you can change American dollars for Peruvian Soles. The exchange rate is about 3.20 Soles per dollar. (3.40 is good, 3.10 is worse) There is a money changer booth near baggage claim or at the other end of the terminal near Domestic Departures. You should exchange about $100 to start the tour. There will be other exchange banks in Tarapoto and Yurimaguas and Iquitos. You can use American dollars in Lima if you want to buy large items and get a better exchange rate from the store.

Make sure you get small bills of 10 or 20 Soles. Most taxies and vendors do not have change for 100 soles bills. Also get at least 20 soles in coins for making change from street venders.

How Much Money to Bring
During the day if you want to buy soda or bottled water from street venders the cost is about 75 cents USA or 2.5 Peruvian soles per bottle. Lon normally spends $15 per day while cycling and buying bottled water and snacks in the hot jungle. During a week you could spend $100 on extra snacks. In the bigger towns there are many craft shops selling interesting souvenirs. Be sure to bring some extra money for gifts. You will have time to going shopping in the local markets.

Traveler’s Checks and Extra Cash
You can use Traveler’s Checks in the bigger cities but they are useless in the rural areas. Most rural venders keep a few coins in a cigar box as their personal bank and they have no use for Traveler’s Checks. I usually carry extra cash in a money belt or pill bottles stashed in various places in my luggage, backpack and with my bike tools.

Donations for Special Causes
If you have never traveled in Third World Countries before, be ready for a surprise when you tour Peru. You will see and meet many people that live in basic conditions that will break your heart. Although you might want to help everyone, you need to be careful to pick and choose who you help. During our tours I try to keep focused on the projects we came to Peru to support. We always find some new projects that need help and we try to see what we can do. You will probably find several projects of your own you want to support. Just be careful to pick and choose your special causes because you might give all your money away before you depart Lima.



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