|Decided to take a day bus from Puno to Cusco, so that I could actually appreciate the landscape between these two spots.
My bus buddy for the seven hour ride was twenty eight year old Cecilia, with her one and a half year old son, Benjamin. He was a bit grumpy at the beginning, as the two have been have been on the road for almost four days, from Cusco to Tacna (on the Peruvian-Chilean border), and back again. But Cecilia demonstrated perfect mother's patience, never once lost her temper, but also tried to calm him by offering "teat teat".
In between the tending of the baby, we managed to have some good conversations, and she gave me a little more insight into her life. Her husband cleans for a living, and doesn't earn enough to support the family. Looking after a baby, as all mothers know, is a full time job, and she tries whenever she can, to bring in more money into the family - and hence her trip to Tacna, where electronic goods are cheaper, and she could sell them with a small profit back in Cusco.
What's more, Ben isn't any normal baby. He was born with some deformity, namely, with no right foot, and also missing the top joint of a finger. Not many people can look after Ben, as he needs more attention (and not being to walk by himself doesn't help), so it's again down to Cecilia. They are trying frantically to save up $2000, to fit Ben with an artificial limb. As he grows bigger, he would need another one, so these low income Peruvians face a consistent bill. This would be a strain, even to many families living in the States, and the Peruvian government offers no help or benefit. As I was already down to my last soles (Peruvian currencuy), I couldn't even give them a small contribution as a gesture of goodwill.
Anyway, once back into Cusco - though tired, I had not forgotten about my grievance when I had left the previous week. Marched over to the Colca bus company, and the señorita there recognised me. Started off well, I was being calm and civilised, and she was trying to put across her side of the story. Apparently she had told people to look out for me, and bring me to the Etra Sur desk for my replacement ticket, plus a refund of 10 soles. There was nobody there that night, and definitely no sign of the 10soles. Besides, I want 20 soles, minimum (as the replacement tickets were only 30 soles, and I had paid her 50 for a direct ticket), plus compensation. The man at Etra Sur lied about the price of the ticket for that night, and since I didn't have the replacement tickets anymore (stupidly threw them away), it was my word against his.
To cut a long story short, Etra Sur (and most other Latin American companies) are only looking after their own interests. It doesn't matter that a single girl arrives into the terminal late at night, to find no bus waiting, and with insufficient funds for a taxi and hotel back in town. Instead of apologising or compensating her, I know, why not charge her for the addition administration required to get her another seat? You know, we have to ring the office (cellular, of course), and we shouldn't have to pay for that!! She's a traveller!! She should be expecting this kind of things, besides, being a foreigner, she's obviously loaded, and what does it matter if we rip her off 10 soles???
He refused to listen, and by now, I was getting really pissed off, and Spanish was beginning to escape me. But I still managed to garble and gesticulate wildly, saying how they were an irresponsible company, who didn't care about the comfort and well beings of the passengers (I complained also about the number of people having to sit on the aisle that night). He wanted me to calm down, as I'm sure I wasn't doing his business any favours, but good!! I want people to know about how inhumane and unethnical they are!! He offered me 5 soles, and no more, and I stormed away saying I would never ever! go with his company again, tell all my friends (though hardly any foreigners board with them) and all the Peruvians to do the same. So, Hugo, yes, I do get really angry! You should have seen me then! And the poor taxi driver taking me home was probably praying that the fuming passenger at the back doesn't explode in his car!!
Apart from this incident, the weekend passed pretty pleasantly. Woke up early enough the next day to take a walk up to Sacsayhuman (the largest Inca ruins just outside Cusco, also site of Inti Raymi), and enjoyed walking over the "theatrical backdrop" of Inti Raymi. Then went for a very nice Sunday lunch at Cusco Curry House, with Vicky and her friend Ruby. Needless to say, we each tucked away an apple crumble with homemade custard at the end of the meal!! Yummy!!! Then we walked about for a bit, before resting in Mama Africa for a film. And then I had a very nice conversation with BOTH of my parents!! Even my Dad was quite chatty!! It's great, as I now know where to go for cheap international calls, plus the connection was pretty clear. So all was lovely!