Sleeping in Airports

15 Jan

Stepping off the plane I was embraced by the warm, sticky air of Lima. The beautiful sound of foreign language filled the international terminal and I made a conscious effort to switch my brain from English to Spanish. Still in a sleepy daze after my 9 hour flight I shuffled my way through immigrations and was happy to find my backpack waiting for me at baggage claim.

It was 11pm and my flight to  didn’t leave until 5am the next morning. Realizing that it would be more of a hassle (and potentially dangerous) to navigate the streets of Lima at night vs stay at the airport I had done some thorough Googling on the best places to sleep. This wouldn’t be my first time sleeping in an airport. Heck, I had practically used the Oslo airport as a hostel when traveling through Scandinavia with more than a few overnight stays. But that was the new, state of the art airport in oil rich Norway and this was, well, Peru! Admittedly, I was a little nervous.

According to the traveler reviews that I found online, the best option would be to spring $60 for entrance to one of the 3 first class lounges and cozy up on an oversized leather chair. Done. I have to confess, it’s kinda nice not having to worry about a tight budget anymore. Nowadays, roughing it is a choice rather than a requirement. I remember traveling Europe on $30/day and this wouldn’t have even been an option.lima airport

After I scooped up my oversized backpack (which I’m proud to say was under 35 pounds) I set off to find one of these lounges. Not exactly sure how to sure how to ask for a “lounge” in Spanish I fumbled through it with a series of hand gestures and fragmented sentences until I learned that all 3 lounges are located in the international terminal. Following the signs I headed in that direction until I was abruptly stopped by a security guard. “Ticket, please” she asked. I quickly rummaged through my purse and handed it to her with a smile to which she immediately replied “You cannot enter here. You must go to the domestic terminal.” Say wha?!? I attempted to explain in Spanish my layover situation and that I had just come from the international terminal. For those that know me well, I can usually talk my way into any situation. Not happening tonight. I’m going to go ahead and blame the language barrier because this woman would not budge.

Defeated, I trudged off toward the domestic terminal in hopes of finding somewhere to rest. Still bustling at midnight, I noticed a quieter area off to the side with 30 or so backpackers sprawled across the tile floor. Seriously? Tile? There has to be a better option. Is there not a cushioned  bench anywhere in this airport? I wandered around for a bit scoping out the area and eventually plopped down at Starbucks. Hey, if I’m going to be up all night I may as well take advantage of the free wifi.

Shuffling between Couchsurfing, Facebook, and Instagram, about 30 minutes passed before I felt a light tap on my shoulder and heard someone asking me in Spanish for the wifi password. “Cuál es la contraseña?” I turned and met the warm smile of another backpacker. Proud of myself for understanding the question I replied in Spanish and asked him where he was traveling. His beautiful Argentinian accent brought back memories from Buenos Aires and gave me confidence in my ability to speak Spanish. We ended up sitting there for hours lost in conversation…swapping travel stories and discussing everything from international politics to childhood memories. It wasn’t until my “wake up” alarm went off at 4am that I realized how much time had passed and that the entire conversation had been in Spanish. Wow! I can speak Spanish! Who knew?!?
I bid Nico farewell with a kiss on the cheek and a smile spread across my face as I walked toward my gate.  This is gonna be a good trip 🙂
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4 Responses to “Sleeping in Airports”

  1. Carol McIlwain January 15, 2013 at 3:40 am #

    SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD ADVENTURE. SPEAKING SPANISH ALL NIGHT. SLEEPING IN TERMINALS AND BENCHES IS PART OF THE ADVENTURE. I AM SIGNED UP FOR MY SOUTH AFRICAN SAFARI IN JULY—HAVING IT EASY WITH A GUIDE BUT LOOKING FOR RAFTING ON THE ZAMBEZI IN CLASS 5 RAPIDS–MAYBE. namaste carol

  2. Jacqueline January 15, 2013 at 4:48 am #

    Those chance encounters are the best! Reminds me of a couple of friends I made while sleeping in an offbeat airport Ryan Air flew out of ‘near’ Milan. It was a great experience!

  3. Hastens January 15, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Sounds like an adventure already. Hope you got some sleep during your flight though 😉

    • 1girl50states January 16, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

      nice conversations with a friendly stranger = awesome. hope you have many more 🙂

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