Yesterday at about 1:00 pm, we get back to Quito. Our travel agency guide in Cuzco picked us up on time from our hostal to take us to the airport. It was the first time he had been on time. When we arrived last Tuesday, we waited outside the airport for 15 or 20 minutes before he came. On the morning of our train ride to Machu Picchu, he was 15 minutes late. But yesterday, he was on time and very helpful. He even took our boarding passes to the tax window to pay the outgoing taxes for us. He said it would be $5 per person. Only after we were waiting at the gate did we notice the sticker on our boarding passes that said $4.28. He had pocketed almost three dollars from us.
Such a thing was pretty normal in Peru. In Cuzco, for instance, we went to a church and the guide told us it would cost three soles when the tour started. We waited around for the beginning of the tour for about 15 minutes and then went in the church. After we were well inside, he said the price was 3 soles for students in Cuzco. It was five soles for foreigners, and it was another 5 soles for the guide. So rather than being 3 soles, it was actually 10.
Later, at a museum, I asked how much a tour was. Ten soles, she said. Do you have an English-speaking guide, I asked? No, but we have a great Spanish-speaking one. Eric was gung-ho, so he said he´d pay our entrance fee if we´d translate. We had just translated the church tour, so we were ready for it; Eric bought the tickets. THEN, we found out the guide wasn´t free.
When we got into Quito, we were happy to be back in Ecuador, where you might get robbed but where you aren´t regularly swindled. Don´t get me wrong. Machu Picchu was beautiful; Cuzco was a charming little town; Aguas Calientes was nice too. But it was all touristy, full of (whiney) gringos, and thus full of Peruvian people who saw you only as a source of money. Ecuador felt comfortable.
Then, yesterday afternoon, we watched Ecuador´s soccer team beat Argentina 2-0. It wasn´t just a lucky win. Ecuador clearly dominated. With one minute left in the game, they scored their second goal. We were watching it in a restaurant full of lively Ecuadorians, who slapped high fives with us. It was the height of my Ecuadorian pride.
After the game, we went to see the new Star Wars. Overall, it was a great day. Unfortunately, Joni and Eric head out tomorrow morning early. Just now, we tried to go to a restaurant where they served cuy (guinea pig) for Eric to try, but they were closing at five and thus wouldn´t serve it cuz it takes too long. It´s been that kind of a day today. Kinda crappy. It´s raining slightly, we can´t really decide what we want to do, our plans falter or fail, and tomorrow, everyone goes back to work and/or real life.
More Peru stories to come.