Updated: Apr 2, 2020

Day 1 - I’ve been pondering the amount of time & effort I put into planning for about half a year a trip to Peru, only to find myself in a small hotel room in Sydney, wishing I could open a window. Lack of fresh air seems to be the main complaint from people being restrained in our city hotel. Or so I’m told by Andrew, the friendly police-person at hotel reception, so well-trained in PR.

Having taken a cheap flight to Peru in early March, I managed to stay in Lima for 3 weeks before taking the first expensive commercial ’repatriation’ flight out to Sydney on Sunday, March 29. The flight organised by Chimu Adventures and flown by Chile’s Latam airline, was recommended by the Australian Embassy in Peru.

(Postscript: The Australian Ambassdor in Peru has just this morning - April 1, Australian time - put out a call for all Australians in Peru who want to return home to register for a possible second flight by sending their details to

I’d had one fabulous outing - I’d visited Larco, a museum specialising in erotic art exhibits and one of the most beautiful restaurants in the world. Surrounded by enormous banks of crimson, orange and white bougainvilia, I was thrilled to be able to sample a classic dish, causa, made from a smooth creamy yellow potato, the country’s national pride. Along with a chocolate mousse to die for. I only hope I won’t have to.

After that delight it was down to the business of getting in stores before the official military lockdown, Peru’s approach to protection from the spread of coronavirus, which was still showing very low numbers of people infected. Empty shelves in some supermarkets, just like in Australia, included where toilet paper used to be, and even a run on bananas.

What was different than in Australia were the impressive early declarations by the President who showed his concern to buy in thousands of extra COVID-19 test kits and insist that people could not congregate nor even drive without a special permit to do so. Our household was in serious lockdown, rubbing down with alcohol any package delivered and insisting that you were either 100% in or 100% out - there’d be no going back and forward to work every day. This lockdown was for the duration - at least for the first 15 days announced, but who knew how long an extension might last?

Would I get back to family in Australia before Christmas? More detail on the negotiations to get a ride back home in a later blog ...

This week, after reading reports that some other returnees to Sydney, ‘inmates’ shall we call ourselves, had been put up in Sydney’s poshest inns and treated like princesses, I thought I’d feel more like a model on assignment. Not prepared to get out of bed for less than $1000 (or is that $1000 an hour?), focussed on pampering my skin with moisturisers and unguents, and alert to any flaw that might appear on my toenails’ ‘Ruby Tuesday’ glossy surface.