... across one time zone.
It sounds like a tall order I know, but I'm here to assure you it can be done. It's all in the preparation.
First you have to make sure you book an early flight - let's say six forty five am - which means that due to the ridiculous security restrictions you have to arrive at the airport the night before - say four fifteen am.
Then, and this is the clincher, you need to spend the previous sixteen hours drinking heavily, and make sure you get no sleep at all. That way, once you've landed and spent an insane amount of time finding your hostel, you're sure to pass out, sleep through the day and wake up at night, still feeling rough and having become suitably nocturnal.
I know, I know, it sounds a lot to ask, and believe me if I said "Right, today I'm going to spend the equivalent of two working days with my face in a beer, skipping all the major meals and any semblance of sleep" then I would be happily tucked up with a John Grisham before the bartender even had time to shortchange me.
However, if you regularly intone the mantra "I'm going to have one more, then I'm going to bed" you'll soon find yourself looking at your watch and exclaiming "Jes*s, my cab'll be here in five minutes", just as I did. It helps if you vehemently deny any intention to keep drinking whenever challenged, responding "Are you mad? I want to get an early night, I've got a plane to catch!"
It helps if you can arrange to have a load of lads taking advantage of the WIFI facility at the hostel by spending the afternoon listening to Test Match Special on a laptop (I know, travel has changed a lot since the first time I went away, too). It further assists the project if you can get them to start drinking at 10am when play begins, and already be happily on their way when you join them at midday. Of course you should decline the first few offers of drinks, but a few overs of depressingly vicious seam bowling later and you'll find yourself into the beers with the rest of them.
And basically, just don't stop.
So I arrived at the airport in a state that could most accurately be described as 'munted', checked in with difficulty due to the language barrier (the desk clerk spoke perfect English, but I was thinking in fluent Drunken-ese), managed to get through security despite swearing black was white that I was never given a boarding pass (the security officer merely pointed to it, since it was sticking out of my pocket at the time) and somehow boarded the plane without breaking any major limbs. I'm really not sure how all this happened, since it's all a bit of a blur.
I was given the window seat in the very last row despite the plane being only half full, and I'm willing to believe this is standard procedure for anyone that turns up at the airport wearing parfum de brewery like I did. You could see the expression on the faces of the flight attendants change as they made the long walk back from the last row of civilised passengers to my hellish corner of boozed up nonsense.
Over the course of the flight I sobered up somewhat, and found myself increasingly paranoid that I'd boarded the wrong plane ("Just please let it be going to Peru", I was praying to myself "even if it lands in a different city") and I became increasingly concerned about where my luggage might end up since I had no recollection of what happened to it. I could imagine myself explaining my potential difficulties to a bemused Brazilian airport employee, and when faced with the question "How did you end up in Sao Paolo? Your ticket says Lima" I would have to reply shamefacedly "I have no idea, I was drunk at the time".
Anyway, I somehow managed to get where I wanted - I had a strange desire to finish the trip in Lima despite not being impressed with the place the first time round. This time, though, I know that I'd rather chew off my own kneecap than visit Centro, so I've spent all my time in Miraflores and Barranca (the good bits) in order to gain what I believe the Oprah watchers amongst us would call closure. It's nice to finish this trip where I started, because all the alien and unfamiliar things that freaked me out way back in January (like, Peruvians) seem positively quaint and endearing now, I'm so travel-hardened and cosmopolitan. ;-)
So this will be my last email from South America, but hopefully I'll be seeing everyone either at a wedding or in a London pub very soon.
Alpaca to the sauce
ps This mail has gone out to a limited distribution list. Specifically, I haven't sent it to my mum because she tends to worry and I don't like to give her any more nightmares than is absolutely necessary.