5/5/10: Puno, Peru
We stood in front of the Desayuno (name changed to the Spanish word for “breakfast” because I can’t remember the real name) bus ticket counter, and an old lady approached. The following conversation took place in Spanish, but I’ll translate it here for those of you who aren’t masters of the Spanish language like I am.
“What time is the bus to Arequipa tomorrow?”
“And how much is it?”
“20 soles.” (A little less than $8.)
“Can we see a picture of the bus?”
“It’s right there.”
The old lady pointed to a picture of the Desayuno bus behind the counter . It looked pretty good to us, so we decided to go ahead and buy the tickets. We knew that we could probably negotiate a slightly lower price, but we were fine paying 20.
The old lady was happy to hear that we wanted the tickets, so she motioned for us to follow her. We wound up walking all the way across the terminal… right to the Flores counter. She then began printing our tickets, which cost 13 soles each at this counter. We stood around a bit confused, but decided it wasn’t worth our time to argue. When the tickets came out, the lady – right in front of us no less – took a marker and blacked out the 13 sole ticket price so we would think 20 was the correct value. She then took off around the terminal and found stickers to put on each of the tickets, adding one sole each to the cost.
So we wound up paying 21 soles for tickets that cost 13, and we wound up buying them from a completely different bus company than we originally agreed. You know why this impresses me though? Because now we know how we got ripped off. Eight months ago we would have had no idea what just happened.
In case you’re curious, here are four other previously-undisclosed ways that we’ve improved our traveling game. (We’re now so good at traveling that some people think we’re “crab dribbling.”)
(1) We rarely buy drinks with dinner. Buying sodas, pops, Cokes, soft drinks, Pepsis, colas or gaseosas at restaurants is an easy way to break the daily budget. We usually just wait until after dinner and get a drink at the nearest mini-mart. (Surprisingly there is no difference in taste between a restaurant Coke and a mini-mart Coke.) I won’t say that’s the sole reason we’re several hundred dollars under budget now, but I’d bet it’s accounted for a good deal of our savings.
(2) We don’t even care who got voted off American Idol. We’ll stink it up at our local pub trivia nights when we get back because we’ve lost all touch with American pop culture. But seeing that most celebrities back home are either in debt, marital trouble or a halfway house, that’s probably a good thing. (Don’t worry though, I know exactly what’s going on in the world of sports.)
(3) We’re ultra-aware of our belongings. I find myself subconsciously patting my butt all the time, not because I enjoy it, but because I want to be sure my wallet is there. If it were a real wallet, I could understand my concern, but my wallet contains about $3 in the local currency – an amount that I’m almost asking people to steal.
(4) We know the “expiration date” on our pants. Three weeks in Nepal without a change of pants: too long. Eight days in Argentina: not long enough. Obviously it depends on the weather and what we’re doing, but we now know exactly how long we can wear each article of clothing before the smell of it would cause strangers to tuck their noses in their collars as they walk by. (This doesn’t mean we always do laundry on time though.)
Picture of the Day: We spent three days in Puno and only have three pictures to show for it. This is one of them.