The customs agents were at the airfield at 7:30 as
promised. There were 4 senior people from that organisation and later 4 customs officials joined them. A lot of people for no money – it was difficult for Olivier and I to understand how the hell customs in Peru can
work. What a waste of time and effort - quite honestly our patience was well tested. When one of the agents tried to ask us for money, Olivier nearly nutted the guy. We paid nothing.
Lined up on the runway for take-off, the ATC told us
to wait because Ecuador had not approved our flight plan. After sitting on the runway for 10 minutes we were told that we did not have clearance to fly to Guayaquil. Damn, our permit for Ecuador was for Machala,
Manta and Esmeraldas, but not Guayaquil. We filed a new flight plan for Machala and were airborne within 30 minutes.
The weather was not good. Low cloud meant we were
forced to fly at 700ft. We hit a little rain here and there. We flew over huge shrimp farms, water in every direction. I monitored the engine carefully.
In the air we asked for authorisation to fly to
Guayaquil. Yes, we could go on to Guayaquil. So what was the big problem in the first place?
At the coast, 2 Jetranger helicopters flew close by
us – we hadn't heard them talk on the radio – and decided to climb above the clouds. At 4500 ft we found a slight tailwind and could see much better. After 2 hours we descended through a hole in the clouds and
cruised (over the huge river) at 1,000 ft past the city of Guayaquil.
The airport is in the city. It is always so much easier and less expensive when the airport is close to the city. We circled on base leg while a Boeing 727 landed. I waited for the wake turbulence to go before venturing anywhere near to where the Boeing had flown.
Olivier went to the briefing office and to get our
passports stamped with an official. By the time we had paid the landing fees, filed a flight plan, got weather reports and had the passports stamped, it was too late to continue to Esmeraldas. These damn landing
fees are a killer if your budget is tight.
We taxied to the Aero Club and after some
negotiations, managed to find a spot to lock our kit away and a place to park our aircraft. Javier, the pilot (and business manager) of the Hawker Sidley, immediately gave us parking place in his hangar next to the
very expensive business jet.
After our traditional bartering with a taxi driver
and a short drive to town, we booked into a hotel / youth hostel. In each town, we watch with interest how the taxi drivers operate and how they use their hooters and their driving skills. Later I will expand on my
experiences with taxies.
We managed, after a some time, to find a place with
internet and e-mail. Our web page and the work that goes into keeping it updated is a constant source of frustration and conflict for us. I enjoy the writing, but getting to a place to send an update is often
difficult or not possible. Success tonight!