Part 3: Bolivia and Peru.
Sally is the quietest I’ve heard her.
She says nothing about the 7 bed dormitory, no hot water or toilets without a seat…but, “does the salt hotel have wifi?” and “they don’t take credit card here?”, “Why can’t I get change in American dollars?”.
On arrival in Uyuni she wants to take a plane to La Paz but we have to take a night bus instead.
At one stop, Sally throws the blanket over the head of the sleeping lady in front. Doesn’t apologize and walks to the back of the bus. The woman turns around and gives my Mum a look thinking it was her!
All throughout the trip she has been asking Mum and me to help her with her bags and water and treating us like porters. Our room in La Paz is on the fourth floor and there is no elevator. At this point Mum and I stop helping.
She complains that the trip has been too busy having to do something every day and not enough free time to walk around in the streets and buy souvenirs. I resist the urge the point out that she wanted to go everywhere in three weeks: Santiago, San Pedro de Atacama, Bolivia, Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, the Amazon and Lima was all on her original itineries.
Mum makes a comment how much she enjoyed the beautiful and barren landscape of Bolivia and how glad she was to visit. Sally states that she never wants to go there again and would not recommend it to anyone.
We take the retired tourist bus which stops at everything tourist from Puno to Cuzco and are made to wear identity tags. The most boring and embarrassing day so far…and Sally loves every minute of the trip.
The Machu Picchu saga:
We didn’t have our tickets for the train, just the reservation code. One email says we need to go to this station at this time, and the other says we need to get the train from another station but the office isn’t open until an hour after so we can’t get tickets anyway. Usual South American chaos. Anyhow, we decided to take a taxi to the closest station and ask at the ticket office a lot earlier then we should have needed to.
Mum’s phone has been an hour wrong the whole trip, so she sets the alarm an hour different, wakes up before it goes off and looks at the time.
“Its 5:30am!” She yells, waking me up from a deep sleep.
I look at my clock…nope, its not, its 4:30am, but no way getting back to sleep after that wakeup.
The day before Mum and Sally arranged to confirm later that night that we would meet at 5:45 am. Sally then didn’t respond to any of Mums phone calls, emails or messages.
Its 6am and Sally hasn’t shown up or answered her phone. All throughout the trip she has been talking about how her phone automatically updates to the local time whereas mum’s phone and mine has not updated once.
We go to her hotel room and bang loudly on the door.
Finally she answers.
“Is it time to go?” She asks.
“YES!” We both say loudly.
“My alarm didn’t go off…” Sally looks at her clock, “oh I guess my clock time isn’t right! I’ll just be 2 minutes getting ready.”
10 minutes later we tell her to meet us at the train station (because she still isn’t ready) and we catch a taxi to the station only to discover that it is closed?!
The security guard rings another station and the guy over the phone tells me that there has been a train strike for the past two days and we now need to get to a different town, two hours away by bus to get the train from there which is leaving at 9:30 am instead of 7am….and didn’t I get the email?
No, Perurail, I did not get any email when I checked it at 4:30 this morning.
We leave a note for Sally telling her the change of plans, knowing full well she is not capable of figuring out how to catch a bus in Spanish. She still cannot order a coffee in Spanish even though she’s drank one every day.
Mum and I jump in a bus headed to the new town which, the driver assures me is leaving “in 7 minutes”. In Peruvian terms this translates “whenever the bus is full”. After 7 minutes we still aren’t leaving and all the locals get out of the bus, I start asking taxi drivers costs.
We are on a random street, nowhere near the train station, and about to get into the taxi when Sally pulls up in another taxi and gets into ours.
Mum asks her, “Did you get the note at the train station then?”
Sally’s response: “What note? What train station? Are we taking a train to Machu Picchu?*”
So she somehow managed to randomly show up at the exact street corner as we are getting in a taxi without speaking any Spanish to the taxi driver other than “Machu Picchu”.
*She was the one who booked the expensive train to Machu Picchu for the wrong date – a month earlier.
The wonderful taxi driver sped his way down a road that hadn’t even been built yet, waving at the construction workers as we went by, determined to get us there on time. He zigzagged through large boulders that had been thrown down by angry locals, and managed to get us there early…which was fortunate because the 9:30am train left at 8:50am.
Perurail you really do give unforgettable journeys.
Not much is said about Machu Picchu except that she thinks it should have more handrails.
Down to the last few days and we catch a flight to Lima. A man at the airport asks if he can take our bags, Sally says yes, then when he puts them down at checkout, says “thanks” and walks away. Mum gives him a tip and tells her that he’s only carrying the bags for money. She looks very surprised at this, maybe she thought he liked to carry random peoples bags for fun?
The whole three weeks mum has been struggling to say please in Spanish. Instead of “por favor” she has said por fabor, po favour and everything inbetween. At the start of the trip she was also saying “Thank you big man” (Gracias macho) instead of “many thanks” (Muchas Gracias). On the last night she flawlessly says “la cuenta por favor” (the bill please).
Sally’s bank card has not worked the whole trip, (she has been trying at various ATM s in different cities) and she has continually borrowed money off Mum. Her daughter finally contacts her to tell her the bank card was blocked the first day in Santiago….because she entered the wrong PIN. Sally claims that she knows she entered the right PIN.
At the final breakfast Sally empties her purse on the table which is still full of Bolivianos. She says that she has been trying to get rid of them in Peru and doesn’t understand why they won’t take Bolivian currency!
She and mum leave in a taxi to the airport. Sally doesn’t even say “thanks”. I will miss mum, but I’m glad to go on holiday again.