Thursday, April 29, 2010

Trip's Coming Along

Well, the trip is coming along. I don't know why but it's always murder. Fer instance: I'm buying tickets for seven guests and my daughter and I on a train from Ollaltaytambo to Aguas Calientes, at the foot of Machu Picchu. You would think you go to Peru Rail and enter the pertinent info for each passenger and give them a credit card and it's done. Half-an-hour, tops.
HA! I've spent more than 30 hours (aggregate) trying to get those tickets and while I've given PeruRail over $1000, I still don't have tickets.
First, they have to tell you they can't process.
Then they do that again.
And again.
And again.
Each time is 30 minutes of inputting info.
Then they tell you okay.
The next day they write back that it's all rejected.
That happened maybe 6, 7 times.
Then they changed the numbers on the trains so I had to do it again.
Then they altered the times by 3 minutes so I had to do it again.
Then yesterday they said the computers lost all info, please input again, for 9 people.
Today they wrote that there may not be trains that day, at least from where I'm leaving with my group.
I'm gonna go New York and start punching people, right? Or at least saying: "What the fucK? You want me to get serious here?
I want you serious or I'm gonna get very serious and if I get fukkiin serious, your children are not gonna freakin eat till I get my fuggin tickets. Problem? Please. Cause I would love a freaking problem right about now...."
You wouldn't want me to get that far, cause that's where I'm past conversation.
But Peru can push you there.
I just purchased tickets, over the last month, for all the internal flights for my guests in June. Each on the first trip has four internal flights.
Today all the flights were canceled and I was called and told, "Your guests are being scattered around. Some will arrive back in Lima on the 17th of June, some on the 21. That's the way it is.
OY VEY! Three hours on the phone and a fairly sizeable bribe and all my guests, as well as Madeleina and I, are back on the same flights. Not good times, but at least we'll all stay together.
This has been going on for two, three hours a day for two months.
This is the first trip where I took some of the guests' money and said: "This is my pay for two months of pre-trip work." I've never done that before and felt like a thief at first, but now that I'm maybe 140 hours into it--securing my team, getting boat cabins, renting hotels in 3 cities, securing a good healer to work with us when we need him, arranging for the train and for 8 ceremonies, sending 2 tons of water and gasoline and kerosene up the river, paying for a breached birth by one of my crew's wives....well, I don't feel guilty anymore. I hired a lawyer today for a simple matter and he charges me $350 an hour. I took $20 an hour to do the pre trip work. Catholic I am, but I deserve it. I spent all day today just getting my med kit up to speed. That means paying doctors for 4 different antibiotics that I had no prescription for and so forth. You have any idea what buying a nice meal in Dallas for a doc and his wife, with wine, costs? But I need those antibiotics. Just like I need lip balm and bandaids. If something goes wrong, I need to solve it. I need to have good stitching equipment, I need a few good scalpels if I need to do an emergency appendectomy (looking forward to that, though slightly nervous), or so forth. And I have stitched up maybe 40 people in the jungle so far, including myself three times. So I need this stuff.
But the reality is that I've spent more than 40 hours a week for more than three weeks getting it done. And I will spend another 40 hours finishing it.
Leading the trip is fun. I get to talk, tell stories, show people marvelous things, have my team blow my guests' minds with their understanding of the jungle. That's 24/7 work, no doubt, and I should earn 10 X what I get. But that's fun. I love that part.
This part, dealing with Peru's trains and hotels and riverboats....that's hard.
Still...I'm almost done. And that means in two or three days I'm ready to go. My med kit is only missing three large rolls of gaffer tape. I got the rest.
So HA! We're moving! Sludge-like, but still moving.
For those of you who are coming, I'll see you in June or July. This is gonna be one hell of a trip, twice.


Kuchinta said...

Woo hoo! Whoever's on these trips will have a fantastic adventure!
Stay well :)

Sean said...

What a wonderful time will be had! Wish I was coming along again for this one!