Unfortunately, since I arrived in Cusco it seems I have had one mis-adventure after the other. I have tried to stay positive and remind myself that this is all part of life and traveling throughout it all.
The first night I arrived I was met by my tour guide Carlos at my hostel and he took me to an atm where I was to withdraw cash to pay for my Salkantay trek so that I could leave the next morning at 4am. I was super excited and ready to go on my trek. I had heard from everybody that had done it that it was amazing and after a month in the jungle I felt fit enough to do it. Also I was not that keen on staying in a city again. Unfortunately, the atms kept telling me I had the wrong pin number and I thought I got my account frozen so I was unable to do the trek. Freaking out and with only 22 soles in my pocket I went back to the hostel, woke up my parents, had them call the bank, verified my pin number and got my account unfrozen. I thought everything was soted. But no more trek for me. L
Lesson #1: Pay for things in advance online if you can, even if you will get an extra charge. Peace of mind is worth it.
Thinking that everything was sorted I waited until the afternoon to try to get money out from an atm. I tried 3 different atms, went back to the hostel to re-verify my pin number, and even tried my credit card to withdraw money to no avail. Finally I went up to the counter in the Interchange Bank and was able to withdraw 300 soles (I should have withdrawn more). So I went to my tour guide feeling like I had at least found a solution and decided to just to a city tour, sacred valley tour, and Machu Picchu despite the extra cost of it all because it came highly recommended by friends. After that we went back to the bank together to try to pay for it. This time my bank card was rejected. I was told that I could use my credit card as well, but there would be a fee so, worried about that, I just waited and got back online to have my Dad call the company.
Lesson #2: If you can find a way to get cash out, just get out a lot and change it over later.
Once again traveling back to the hostel to talk to my Dad I learned that Capital One would only charge me about $10 for a cash advance. I decided it would be worth it to just do that rather than try to figure out my debit card plus I get fees for my debit card anyways. However, by this time it was about 5:30pm so I knew the banks were closing and I was exhausted so I figured I would go back to the place in the morning. I get there and wait 15 minutes only to finally ask and hear that the system is down. Interchange Bank sends me to one BCP location only to be told to go to the other BCP location to get money from a credit card. Finally, an hour after leaving the hostel I get $400 USD out.
Lesson #3: Patience, plus early planning is best.
Finally I am able to pay Carlos the money for the tour, but I still have to pay for my tourist ticket to visit the archaeological sites. So he walks me to the office, I pull out my ISIC card that doesn’t have a picture on it because I had to get it rushed to me and am promptly told I need to go get a picture. So I have to walk across the street, get the pictures, walk to the ISIC place to get it placed on my card, and then back to the Municipalidad Office to buy my student priced ticket. Plus since there is a huge parade again today I had to fight my way through crowds in order to get anywhere.
Lesson #4: Just order your ISIC card early and get the picture on it from the beginning.
Overall, this has been a very trying portion of my trip. It goes to show that you do have to have resilience in order to travel, particularly when traveling alone. Having a great family and friends is incredibly helpful too. I want to say a big thanks to Sarah for being my middle man and calling my parents when I needed and just listening to my frustrations. Also, a big thanks to both of my parents for doing their best to sort out all of my card stuff for me.
This afternoon I will finally begin a tour of the city and close ruins. I’m really hoping it will be fun, but at this point I am really wishing I was able to go on the Salkantay Trek and even more wishing I had decided to do the bike tour instead of the ruins tour. It goes to show that perhaps I am a person who really prefers an all-inclusive tour than figuring out the nitty gritty details and then also just a more natural based tour is more satisfying for me.
Tonight I will try to right a post about the proper adventures and fun I have had while here in Cusco. For now though, wish me luck that things go smoothly from here on out.