It was around 2 in the afternoon when we arrived after our tortuous 9 hour boat ride running on 20 hours of no sleep. I had booked us a place to stay and knew it was only a few blocks from the dock and on the main plaza de armas so folks should have known where to direct us if we needed to ask.
It ended up being a lovely hostal – really a hotel. As you can see there was a lovely garden. There are many such gardens found on the properties of people’s homes but you wouldn’t know it unless you look inside. The facades of peoples’ homes and store fronts often feel so desolate, hot, heavy concrete, but then you can enter into this magical oasis.
Interesting iconography in the hotel lobby
I saw visa credit card signs on the hostal front windows which was a sign of relief since our cash funds were low. I knew I had to get to a bank within a day or so. Of course the hostel did in fact not accept any credit card payment – the reason being the super slow and unreliable internet. So off to the bank I went after we checked in. I was like then remove the bloody signage otherwise you are falsely advertising the service.
So after checking in, off to the bank I was while Ross hung out in the hotel room. Well there was only one bank in town with one bank machine so I took my place in the lineup. When it was my turn, I was punching in the details to do a cash advance but at one point I pressed the incorrect account button and got the message, “call your bank, unable to complete transaction” or something to that effect. I thought that was odd. And so proceeded to try to cancel the transaction. Normally I would have received the message please select another account. Well I did not get that message. Instead the machine decided to keep my card. I was stunned. I was like what the fuck is this. I punched some more buttons but I could do nothing. I was like what else could possibly go wrong.
This of course immediately led me into a state of panic. You see this was our only card to get $, as we essentially had no money in our Peruvian account – with Scotibank – the evil colonial bank found everywhere in the Caribbean and South America. Canadians should research the colonial legacy of this supposed Canadian icon of a bank.
I went around to the front of the bank where there of course there were two lineups, not just one! I asked and found out one was the regular lineup, the other was for new accounts as the bank had some promotion on for the month. Go figure!!
I was freaking out – reminder I was surviving on essentially no sleep for 24 hours, and you have to consider that everything takes forever to get done – there is no such thing as fast or efficient service. I began to hyperventilate a bit and whimper. A woman noticed and guided me to the front of the line and motioned for me to talk to the security guard to explain what was going on. You see I wasn’t really sure if there was some fraud activity on my card or if it was simply my mistake of punching the wrong button. So was I going to be able to even get the card back?
Fortunately he did allow me to go in and I was soon helped by the one teller. He was very helpful but said he couldn’t get my card out of the machine until his colleague came back from lunch since he was alone. I thought ok. So I waited a short while and then other said employee sauntered back from their lunch break – by this time it was getting close to 4.
In the end I had to fill out some paperwork but first had to run back to the hostel to get my passport – just a few blocks away fortunately. Mr.C5 was wondering what the heck had happened since I had been gone for over an hour. And then he tells me there is no electricity in our room so we go to the owner and after a short process where she was clearly not happy, we were in another room.
Back to the bank we went. Of course some more waiting. The teller could not tell me what the problem was but he did say I would have to wait until the next day to use my card again, and if I had the same problem he was not going to be able to return my card to me a second time.
I was like okay we will wait to go to the bank the next day when we would be in Iquitos. But I thought I can’t use my credit card to get $ because if there was a fraud use of it we would have no access to $ since we had almost no money left in our bank account where we would get our Cuso monthly living allowance (MLA) deposited.
My mind of course was racing but I was also in problem solving mode. I have this incredible skill of resourcefulness. I am able to think of options. I can also, as Mr.C5 says, be a super stubborn bull that will simply not take no for an answer. I almost always get positive results even if it does take a toll on me when I am in the freaking out stage. I was like I have to get in touch with Cuso in order to get an advance on the MLA – surely this would be okay especially since we were going to be paid in just a few days.
But I was still in a panic. I couldn’t use the internet since it essentially was out of commission. I had tried to use my Cuso provided cell phone the days before and couldn’t get a signal but I didn’t know if I had no more $ on the phone or if simply there was no signal where I had been. Fortunately the phone worked and I got a hold of a Cuso staff person – thankfully it was still during business hours – and sure enough they were fine with arranging an advance. I was so fucking relieved. I had the funds within an hour – kudos to Clara & Consuela!!
Next on the agenda was finding food and beer with beer being the higher priority of course. With that taken cared of we then retreated to our room, had a beer – I rather tried to have a beer but just wasn’t into it I was so exhausted. I did have a much needed shower which was glorious since by this time we hadn’t showered for 6 days. We then watched some TV and I think we were asleep sometime between 7-8 p.m..
That was a sorely needed sleep. We weren’t in any rush the next day so found a place to grab coffee – instant of course. Then we walked around the local market area and some of the streets – it was a small community overall. Check out the pics, typical of a small port town.
A parade of students in recognition of the International Day for those with Hearing Disabilities – who knew! Notice the pink paper earphones in the last photo.
River side housing
More upscale housing
Firewood market – closed for the day
Pedestrian bridge connecting homes on one side of river to downtown area
Pig on boat and then pig off boat – interesting that the pig is tethered by his hind leg
“Port” side – notice the red/burgundy case the guy is carrying on his shoulder in the first pic – the ever important beer case
Roofing material – dried palm leaves – for boats & houses
or fresh bread? Just a whole lot of different shapes of the same white bread – you would see folks on the boats with one large bag of this – I guess folks don’t make their own.
Some very cool murals – remember to click on pic to enlarge – very political
Next stop Iquitos – the final destination before our return to Lima and my last few weeks of work.