Monday, November 30, 2009

(new) Instant karma’s gonna get ya.

the only photo for this post cuz it's another sickness and bitchiness one.

As we’ve been traveling, Adrian and I have practiced something we like to call travel karma. When we can help out a fellow traveler we do, even if we have to go a little out of our way. Our hope has been that we’ll build up some good travel karma so that when we need some luck or a miracle, we’ll get the help we need. Of course, we hadn’t really seen any dividends for our investment. And today we fell a little off the wagon.

Since there was no pool at the hotel, there was really nothing left for us to do in Iguazu. So we decided to leave a day early. After breakfast, Adrian went to check out and pay the bill. There was some confusion and the clerk appeared to be asking us to pay for another night as per our booking. She didn’t really speak English and Adrian’s sh-sh-sh language wasn’t really working. I stepped in to try and solve the problem but I was a little angry and lost it on the clerk, telling her just how unhappy we were with the accommodations. I told her that we were leaving today because there was no pool, no bar, no computers, occasional wifi, and intermittent air conditioning. And I told her that we were not paying for another day because tonight we were going to Cordoba. At the end of my rant, something clicked and I realized that she hadn’t been asking for payment but only confused that we were leaving since we were in the computer for another night. But I didn’t apologize because I was cheezed off about the accommodations. That was bad karma.

When we went to catch our deluxe bus, it wasn’t as deluxe as we had hoped. The seats were the lie flat which was good. But the advertised champagne, beer and whiskey never materialized and we only got wine because I asked for it – it was never offered. The food was marginally better and there was more of it, but there were a lot of cold cuts which I’m never a fan of. However, I will say that the sleep was much better with the flat seats although I’m not sure I’d pay for the upgrade again. We woke up feeling more refreshed, although in my refreshed state I noticed that my stomach wasn’t feeling very good. At first I thought it was some sort of motion sickness brought on by sleeping flat on a moving bus. And when we got off the bus in Cordoba, I thought maybe it was some weird sort of reverse motion sickness brought on by no longer being on a moving bus. Whichever it was, I thought it would go away with some fresh air and solid ground. However, the urge to throw up seemed to be getting stronger so I told Adrian I wanted to take a taxi to the hostel. Of course, I’d forgotten to print out the address of the hostel and its slightly generic name – Le Grand Hostel only confused the taxi drivers when we asked if they knew it. I would ask for Le Grand Hostel and they’d ask which grande hostel I wanted and I’d reply Le Grand Hostel and they’d ask again. It was a traveller’s version of Abbot and Costello’s Who’s on first and I decided that we would go look up the address rather than continue the comedy routine. Luckily for us (and my stomach) there was an internet café in the bus terminal. I believe there was also a place to buy household appliances and get a mortgage but we didn’t need either of those. The hostel was only 6 blocks away and we decided to walk, convinced that the fresh air would make me feel better.

It didn’t.

When we got to the hostel which was indeed a big hostel, we discovered that the prices posted on their website were a mistake. But I was in no mood to argue. We checked in quickly and once in the room, I christened the bathroom with contents of my stomach. I didn’t see much besides the bathroom for the next two days. And although medically speaking I can blame the stomach on the cold cuts from the bus, my heart knows it was the bad karma I got from yelling at the blameless hostel clerk that was now biting me in the ass.

And it just got worse. Checking my email I discovered there were still no reply to my email asking for info about our missing tickets to South Africa. Since I wasn’t able to go anywhere with my dodgy stomach, I took advantage of the hostel wifi and downtime to get in contact with South African Airways. I used Skype to dial the South African number and then spent 51 minutes on hold listening to the greatest hits of Ladysmith Black Mambazo and repeptitve “your call is important to us” message before I finally got to speak to a person. The end result was that our tickets had been “auto cancelled”. She didn’t explain what that was but it meant that we had no tickets. So I had to purchase them again over the phone for a more expensive price. Grr. Well at least we have our tickets now. Well not quite, the woman on the phone said. I’d have to call back tomorrow to ensure that our credit card had been accepted and then our tickets would be issued. What a pain in the ass. I thanked the woman and then promptly channeled my crankiness into a terse email to the SAA’s customer service department letting them know what I thought of having to call South Africa to remedy a problem I had with their international website booking. If I didn’t have Skype that call would have cost almost $40 US – even with Skype it cost almost $7 – or a small fortune in Skype-land.

I joined Adrian on a short walk to the nearby mall – once again in a beautiful old building (photo above). What is it with Argentina and all these palacial malls? After eating nothing but popsicles for the last 24 hours, I decided to try Adrian’s tried and true remedy of McDonalds. It seemed to hold for the time being so we continued a few blocks into the heart of the old colonial city. What was left of the 400+ year old buildings was a compact area mainly comprised of a university and some churches and they were all lit up nicely in the evening. It didn’t take long to see them and just as well because I didn’t want to be far away from a loo when karma decided to bite me in the ass once again.