18 February 2008

Getting Over The Fear of Being Kidnapped

Arequipa, Peru :: Queens Villa Hotel

After watching Erika wince at the idea of taking a taxi to our hotel, we hailed one anyway. I mean, come on! Taxis were the only way to get anywhere in West Africa. Of course it's a bit different in South America. Here, people get kidnapped, hijacked, robbed in broad daylight. Right before we flew to Miami, I told Erika about this blog I found of people who'd been kidnapped taking an autobus from Puno to La Paz, Bolivia. Maybe that was in the back of her mind. . . Anyway, we had no other choice, our backs were aching, we had to get to our hotel, so we hailed a taxi. Personally, I love the underdog. Who doesn't? But this guy didn't have a clue where he was going. We drove for 30 minutes until we arrived at Calle Pissaro. When the driver asked a pedestrian where the Queens Villa Hotel was, he pointed at a pile of rubble and said oh, this used to be a hotel but it's not in business anymore. Erika and I gulped hard.

I gotta admit, my first thought was:

Shit, we've been scammed. Someone is renting rooms for a hotel that doesn't exist except in cyberspace. My second thought was: Fuck, what a brilliant idea!

Fortunately, both the random pedestrian and the driver were wrong. The pedestrian was wrong because it was the wrong hotel, and the taxi driver was wrong because we were looking for Calle Luna Pissaro, not Calle Pissaro. Ah, technicalities.

But then the taxi guy drove around for another ten minutes before he stopped the car, disappeared, and came back ten minutes later. Maybe this is when we really get kidnapped. No, thank god, no. Another 20 minutes later, we did eventually find the right hotel even though its numerization was completely out of sequence. After we checked-in and ate breakfast as flies swirled our table, we went back to our room that was finally ready, and then we made love, took a nice, long, hot shower, and then we enjoyed a 2-hour siesta before we decided to walk around Arequipa, taking pictures of Town Square until it started to rain, at which time we took another taxi. But this time, Erika wasn't worried and I was glad to be inside. Ten minutes later, we went to a pizzeria that didn't serve pizze and since there was nothing on the menu except sketchy salads and beef platos, we ate chicken even though we're near-vegans back in Chicago.

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