Saturday, February 6, 2010

Peru on a Shoestring Begins... Kinda

Today marks the first day of the Gap Adventures Peru on a Shoestring tour. Kind of.

The thing with Gap is they like to pretend things, like the first and last day count. It's kind of sketchy, but I understand it. Day one may sort of count, as you do get accommodations for the night, but the last day of the trip? I cringe for them. There's a lot about GAP that makes me kind of curl up into a ball in embarrassment for them and this is one of them.

Today is day one. Today is day one because I met the tour leader and said, “what's up?” This occurred at 7:00pm. The final day will be the day I fly out (the 20th.) They claim this makes for a 15 day trip. I disagree. Again, I see where they're coming from and I understand why they would word it this way, but come on? Be upfront and honest – it's 13 days.

The other thing that makes me shake my head is all the optional activities they list and the prices associated with them. In Africa I saw this first play out, where none of the prices were correct. All listed on the website were much lower than they were actually quoted. Today the guide quoted some prices that, once again, were higher than the listed prices on the website. Now – I know they cover themselves by writing, “things change, and prices may not be exact,” but you have people in the field, you have the internet, why not just get accurate quotes? Why not allow guides to update the information? Why not have them – when they file their paper work – add the most recent prices? I know you want to make yourself more attractive Gap Adventures, but this is just embarrassing.

Now – normally I would not write of these things, only think them and talk about them with the other travellers. But who knows if I'll have other travellers on this trip?

[inset “An Open Letter to GAP Adventures” here]

and we're back. I posted that section as its own piece, because I think it should stand alone. I do have issues with this – and it is annoying. By the end of the two weeks I'm sure I'll have still had a great time, but honestly – I do not feel what they're doing is right. Again – I understand they don't have to do anything. They don't have to. It doesn't mean they shouldn't.

But forget about that. I did stuff today. Lets talk about what I did today, 'K?

So I woke up and packed up at my hostel. I also had breakfast. The best breakfast I've ever had at a hotel. A fruit smoothie, a fresh omelet, and breads with jam. But not any game. Whole strawberries in a jamish syrup. And it was fantastic. I then sat down to watch some movies on TV. This was a tactic to kill time before I had to go off to the connecting hotel for my GAP trip. I saw the delightful film Patch Adams, which you would have sworn was written by Joss Whedon. Who else needlessly kills off characters because they were unlucky enough to fall in love with the protagonist? Seriously now. It wasn't necessary. Just to show he could overcome the loss? Speaking of which – does he ever over come the loss. Sure he's loved the girl for three years, and they finally got together. Then she goes and gets blasted by a shotgun. He's angry for a day, but – you know – a day is really all it takes to get over something like this and start cracking jokes again. Really Patch Adams? Really?

Next up was What Dreams May Come, a favourite of mine – discovered on a cross Canada Grey Hound trip where there was little to do but watch the five movies a day they played for each of the three days. I had to leave in the middle, as my taxi arrived.

The taxi ride from hostel to hotel took nearly an hour, offering a great sightseeing tour of the city. The beach stretched on, grey and miserable looking – but still packed with people. It s sumer after all. And the city was as delightful as it could be. And big. Really, I had no idea how huge this city was.

At the hostel I crashed for a bit, turning on the TV, watching a re-cap of WWE wresting. They highlighted the big fights from this year's Royal Rumble. It got me wishing that I'd seen the Royal Rumble match, taking me back to my youth. I used to watch Wrestling a lot but have avoided it for the last many years. My only updates came in the form of PS2 games, and even those I'd not played for a good five years. Many of the wrestlers were strange and new to me. It seems the idea of gimmicked wrestlers is a thing of the past. Most of these guys are just names, and basic outfits. What was more shocking was some of the wrestlers I did know. Shawn Michaels and Bret Heart were back. I remember seeing them live when I was a wee lad. Neither of them have aged well. It's like seeing Ric Flair and still trying to suspend disbelief and think they'd have any real power left.

The more I watched, with the Spanish commentary team screaming full force, the more I wanted to see the 30 man bout. I headed to the internet but failed to locate it. Going back to my room, I flipped the channels and happened to come across it being replayed. They must really love their wrestling here.

After that was the Spanish dubbed version of Jaws III. This is not the best Jaws of all tie, and being in Spanish made it only slightly more entertaining. I passed out.

At 7:10 I arose from my grave. I was supposed to attend the Gap meeting at 7:00. I rushed to it, only slightly late. Paid my local payment. Saw the new itinerary. Then headed out for dinnre.

Dinner was Guinea Pig. It's not so good, but it is another animal to cross of my, “I've eaten you,” list. So that's always good. It's been a while since I'd eaten anything odd. I was told I should have been able to find dog in Cambodia, and was sad that I missed it. People also told me I'd find bugs in Thailand. But that was not to be either.

So I'm back on the strange food wagon. Or am I off the wagon? I've never understood how that phrase works. Are you an alcoholic when you're on the wagon, or off? When are you not drinking? Ahh – thank you internet. Falling off the wagon means you're drinking. Perhaps because the wagon is a cool place to be, and you'd like to be on it? If that's the case I still don't know how my food metaphor should work. We'll just forget it. I'm eating interesting things again.

I also had purple corn juice. Sweet. Literally. They put sugar on everything here even, especially, their peppers. But the corn juice? Lovely. Once more I went to the internet. Apparently the corn juice that is purple (hence why I titled it as I did) is officially called Purple Corn Juice. Me thinks the dutch had a hand in naming it. They love their obvious names. At least they did in Amsterdam.

All in all, not a bad day. Tomorrow I'll catch the six hour bus with my group at 3:00pm. Even day two hardly seems to be a real day. But it will give me time to go to a grocery store and break all my 100S/ bills down into small notes. No one carries change here. At least, when you pay, they claim they don't.

So, yay, tomorrow will be grocery store day.

You know, at least I won't have to worry about finding time to read all my books anymore.

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