Adventures in tipping

We had a slow start in Miami. LAN didn’t open the counters until 9:30 a.m., making sort of joke out of the edict to “get to the airport three hours before international departures.”

All that waiting, though, is to get to a seven hour layover in Lima. We landed shortly before sunset, so I could see that the Peruvian coast has a rugged and barren landscape. That’s about all I saw of Peru besides the airport.

A young man, an employee of the airline pushed my mom’s wheelchair from the plane to the security control. My dad, thinking the young man was done helping us, offered him a tip. He politely declined, but after my mom was through security, continued to assist us. In the elevator he explained that he couldn’t accept tips in front of the security guards. My dad was horrified by the though of getting this nice kid in trouble but thought this probably explained the careful, item-by-item scrutiny of his carry-on bag.

Later, after we had dinner in an airport cafe, my dad mistook the a “1” written in the South American style for a “7” and unwittingly gave the waitress a 33 percent tip. None of us caught that one in time.

We didn’t venture out into Lima because it was getting dark, and because we don’t know the city. I had to rely instead on my surveys of the airport gift shops to learn about Peru. I concluded that Peruvians like to sell llama and cholita souvenirs. A notebook with an illustrated covers might also be illuminating; one had a cartoon of a Spaniard humping an Inca who in turn was humping a llama. There were also a couple of silver shops dealing in jewelry and plateware.