My trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu 2022 and the reasons why I do not plan to return (for now)
This may be the article that has cost me the most work to write. Well, whoever knows me, and has followed my networks or digital life, will know how proud I am of my country as a Peruvian, and I never thought I would write about this. Right now, with tears in my eyes as I write these lines, I affirm the commitment to maintain a blog and a community that speaks from the truth, and if I decide to write it is because NO TOURIST, national or foreign, deserves the bad time I experienced in Cusco.
This will, for me, be a catharsis, but let’s start with this story of deep learning.
I had arrived in Cusco with my partner, a trip that I had actually planned for months, because in Peru and due to the current situation, it is not easy to get, not even for us Peruvians, an entrance ticket to Machu Picchu. You have to book a month or more in advance. First, when entering the web, I am surprised not only by the capacity but also by the fact that Machu Picchu has been divided into 4 routes or Llaqtas and that now what was the cost of admission to a day in the park (this would have been my third time there) was equivalent to an hour and a half in the park and on top of that it was mandatory to have the services of a tour guide.
Well, against the new rules, although we don’t like them, I looked for my tickets. However, every time I tried to buy on the web on the official page (and I invite you to try it) the very common web error ” error 500″ which is a common server error when there is no correct response in the data transfer. For the next three days, I tried different mobile devices, various internet sources and without the slightest success. As a person who has worked for more than ten years of his life in the digital world, as a strategist both in Peru and abroad, and I have seen the development of endless web pages, obviously I find it more than suspicious that our world wonder has at today, such a common unsolved problem. No wonder everyone tells you to go through an agency, because for some reason only some agencies have access to buy, suspicious, don’t you think?
But, to the bull by the antlers. The other and only option is, if you want to do it on your own and if you are in Peru, pay at the Banco de la Nación. For those who are not Peruvian or have not dealt with this bank, which is the government bank, it is bureaucratic, queuing and tedious. In addition to being the one that closes the earliest. But it was the only way. Not to mention that only on the website they give three (3) hours for your reservation to be effective by paying. In other words, if you try to book at night, it is useless because at dawn the reservation is deleted.
On the fourth day, I proceeded to get up early and wait for the bank to open to go. It is important to say that if you do not have a bank account, pay with cash, because there are processes, I do not know if this one, that do not accept payments with other cards, so I was cautious. I paid, and with the emotion of giving my partner a wonderful gift.
Our world wonder, Machu Picchu awaited us in a month and a week. But the issue doesn’t just stop there. You have to know Cusco well. And for that, they offer you a ticket for entrances to their main attractions, but it does not cover tours. You can visit the Sacred Valley, City Tour, South Valley and selected museums of the city, as long as you pay for each tour. It is important to emphasize that in Cusco there are three types of rates: one for Cusco (locals), a higher one for Peruvians and the most expensive for foreigners.
When I invited my partner, I paid practically double for him for his general ticket and for the entrance to Machu Picchu. Not to mention that the train is missing. Only if you are Peruvian do you have the right to take the local train which costs no more than s/.20 soles per person (equivalent to almost USD$5) departing from Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley (approximately two hours from the city of Cusco) and which is just over two hours from the destination that is Aguas Calientes, the town through which you climb to Machu Picchu.
But, if you are a foreigner, you are forced to join the oligopoly that is PeruRail, which only charges in dollars. So the compared train fare turned out to be the cheapest for the two USD$ 260.00. There is another smaller company but the price does not vary much, which is Inca Rail, but since in both you have to pay separate tickets for foreigners and Peruvians, I decided to go to the one closest to me, in this case the Peru Rail sales agency in Larcomar. The attention was super friendly and the ticket was worth what I mentioned in its cheapest option.
So far everything sounds great. My partner arrived in Peru and the next day we went to Cusco. Being a foreigner or a person not used to altitude, you should know that all precautions must be taken. Carrying pills for the head and stomach, taking one before traveling that is for altitude sickness or what we call “soroche” in Peru, is more than common for a large number of people who have never set foot in territories of more than 3 thousand meters high, it affects them. It is customary of the place, to drink coca tea upon arrival, as well as muña tea that helps the stomach that becomes sensitive and changes digestion in this type of scenario. And although we took all these precautions and rested on the first day, sleeping, which is also the recommendation, at the time it was not enough.
I cannot go into third-party details about health, out of respect for the other person involved, but what I can tell you is the events that involved me and why I considered this the worst trip of my entire life. But with a great lesson not to return under the current situation.
On the third day upon arrival at the Peru Rail station in Poroy in Cusco, my partner suffered a decompensation in the middle of the train station. I must indicate that the staff only managed to tell me that we have alcohol in gel, (which I later found out it was worse in his situation to give him that smell) and I had to take it to Cusco, where they also told me that I could press my modification.
Hours later, after stabilizing him, which is obviously a priority, I went to the Av. El Sol offices and they told me that a modification was not possible because the train had already left, which was not the same as what they said. in Poroy, I asked for the complaints book for the first time and they told me no; but that I did have the possibility, if I had the medical documents that I had, to make my download through the form on their page and that they would give me a 90% credit note. Which you say, ok is better than nothing, and in fact it would have to work for another trip because you can’t modify Machu Picchu either. And as we had discussed, you have to book weeks in advance. It is worth mentioning that the government of Cusco and tourist offices, like everything in the government, do not open on Sundays. I had to wait for Monday.
I went back to the hotel and made the discharge by chat, to be guided with the form and there was never a denial that my topic was not appropriate. Even so, the next day, first thing in the morning, I saw that it did not proceed. And not only that of the train, but also the response with the requirements that they requested for these procedures according to their website in returns (You can see it as it is today)
I immediately went back to the offices and asked for the complaints book, first they told me that I had to get a ticket even though a person had just arrived while we were talking and I was waiting for a few minutes and that they attend to her first since I had gotten a ticket. I told him he can give me the book because I have to fill it out and they said no. I began to film, and recount out loud (because they were yelling at me not to film) that they didn’t want to give me the complaints book.
I proceeded to get the ticket and after they attended to that person, it was my turn. When I sat down I told her that please (yes, please) I want the complaints book, to which she was again negative, and I started filming. That was where a tourist guide from Cusco began to yell in a pejorative xenophobic way: “Colombian go away to your country, this is not your country” “What did you think, go away”, etc, etc. Because of her shouting, at first I thought she was Colombian, but she continued to be so arrogant and launching xenophobic expressions that the other tour guides present also began to see me with anger.
I don’t know if it was promotion day for agencies, but suddenly I realized that there were only tour guides, who were “annoyed” with me for making a claim, I saw their faces, and in sight and patience of the company’s collaborators who did not say any. I still answered and said out loud, madam, I am Peruvian and I have been working with brands for more than ten years to know that we cannot be denied the book of claims by right. It turned out that they had the book (or the paper) and I was able to download it. Important for foreigners, this in Peru also applies to you before any service.
After that first meeting, I kept thinking, do they really treat tourists like this? If I were Colombian I think my reaction would have been to film them and upload it to networks because nobody has the right to treat a tourist like that. And believe it or not, I apologized to the lady if she felt at any time because of my tone of voice that I offended her. Not because people stop being people, I’m going to stop being. I have my principles more than clear.
I thought I should continue, as a good Peruvian, I’m not giving up. And I decided to go to the Machu Picchu ticket offices on Av. El Sol, half a block away. Ironically, you can buy there, but you cannot claim. They told me to go to another office of the Ministry of Culture that was two blocks away. He arrived at the description of the gate that they had indicated to me and after listening to me they told me you should not go to the side. At first the doorman didn’t want to let me in, but then I told him how I can find out. I passed and here comes the other sad story.
They not only yelled at me, and I don’t understand why the treatment was shouting. If I just wanted to show him his own website and his own law, which by that time I had already memorized Ministerial Resolution No. 216-2018-MC. I started to mention it with article 15) and they told me we don’t know what website you’re looking at and to treat me as a liar. When, and without raising my voice and trying to maintain control, I told them I am only telling them their own law.
Then they told me we have our own laws (days later in Lima I found out from the comptroller’s office that I could or should have filmed when they said that, because as public servants they should not lie) and as I answered them, Cusco is not an autonomous state, no matter how many Provincial laws, the meaning of said words is governed by the Peruvian legislature. She practically kicked me out screaming, and only one of them told me where the discharge office was.
Here I make my first parenthesis. It is important to mention what “force majeure” is for the public sector (Peruvian State)
“Peruvian law establishes that it is an extraordinary, unforeseeable and irresistible event, which prevents the execution of the obligation or determines its partial, late or defective compliance, for which it qualifies as a non-attributable cause”
Speaking with lawyers, they tell me that illnesses would not enter into “force majeure” but, nevertheless, there is also talk of fortuitous cases unrelated to man. One thing is a congenital disease and another caused by effects unrelated to man if we follow this logic.
And as I like to find out everything, although the Ministerial Resolution law is from 2018, modifications and revisions are made from government to government. I close parentheses.
Apart from the fact that the situation was already tiring me, and I also don’t respond very well to height in agitation or moving fast, I went to the third office. It was about seven blocks from the other one, or they gave me the wrong instruction, but I got there. I must indicate that although the answer was negative, at least he was kind enough to explain to me that, for them, as instructions (and that neither my lawyer friends understood it that way, nor I for the same wording) the law and force majeure “only apply to return” if both situations happen simultaneously, there is a weather impediment or strike that prevents the use of the access roads and that at the same time the park will not exist due to extraordinary circumstances.
In other words, they will never return the ticket money due to fortuitous events. That although as we saw that does not say the web. Which I also kindly told him, what suggestion as a professional and person in ecommerce and web issues should also include it in his returns. He insisted that it is at the time of purchase, I said yes, but if in return policies they must repeat it (It is practically the law) and he looked at me with a frown and cut off the conversation. I still thanked him and left.
At that moment, the unexpected happened. The third meeting, or as I say, the last straw. After everything that happened, and with a person still convalescing, I must confess that I sat on the benches in the main square and the tears ran by themselves. But, as I am, I said no forward, they can’t see you like this. I wiped my tears away as fast as I could and stood I was crossing the square, right in the middle, when three so-called guides talk to me for tours, and my honest, but not offensive and melancholic tone, still trying not to cry, response was “Honestly, I don’t want to go back.” Suddenly, I had the three of them in front of me yelling at me “So, get out” “Go away, you piece of…” “Go away with… your mother”, etc, etc. At that point, and with everything that had happened, having three guys yelling out of nowhere, I moved out of fear, passed them and started laughing. I couldn’t believe they see a tourist in my state with puffy eyes and that was their first reaction. Little gentleman, to say the least.
Then I came to find out that since the end of the year 2021, the government (I could not say whether regional or provincial) is allowing the informals to enter the Plaza de Armas, so perhaps these people were not tour guides in the end and obviously therefore such a deplorable treatment. A pity, since the square is the meeting point for anyone who wants to take a tour. And we know that the informal ones do not give reliable deals or services.
Here I make a parenthesis and I want to highlight the work and generosity of the Clínica Peruano Suiza in Cusco. From the transfer, the care, being attentive and attentive not only to the affected person but also to my emotional health, which I am going to tell you about below, and even being kind enough to take us to the airport by ambulance to finally return home, it has been within of everything, of the best experiences of humanity that you show yourself and highlight what I think, in Cusco there are really very good people willing to help.
I also want to highlight the Suyay ByB and Sueños del Inka hotels. The first to welcome us and they really have everything you need, in addition to offering tour packages, it is a picturesque lodging in San Blas with extraordinary service and kindness. And the second, for giving us a hand when we needed it most. They even have oxygen for tourists, which as I said is very common in Cusco.
And if it is about kindness, I would like to highlight the gentleman, whose name I never learned but who I must recognize, who tends at the entrance of the Cathedral of Cusco, it is the second time that I visit him and he is a person who gives a lot of strength, peace and he really knows how to treat tourists. In addition to the fact that the Cathedral is one of the most beautiful there is, a visit is highly recommended.
How is the story today? My current situation with Peru Rail is that they are going to return my money to 90%. Which I appreciate because despite the lack of flavor, it is clear that in fortuitous cases and force majeure, which no one asked for, as a private company there must be flexibility on their part to satisfy their customers. The opposite case occurred, with the Ministry of Culture and those in charge of the governance of Machu Picchu, beyond the exchange of several emails, and everything previously told was summed up in go to table of parts, which we know by now that it is more bureaucracy than another thing. As we all say in Peru, they just want to bore you.
This was your reply mail (which I say sea de paso does not work as you describe it if you search from your cell phone, as will be understood, the majority of tourists on llevan laptop) I share it on the web (at least from my cell phone) and I noticed that in reality the URL the link (when I replied that it was not seen) is another one.
I think that with all this you will be able to understand the reason for my article. I deeply love my country and although this situation hurts me, we must not be silent. And less allow people to live experiences like mine. And at least if they do, know what consequences to expect. I am the first to receive tourists and I always puff out my chest when talking about my beloved country, but I don’t think anyone deserves this.
So as you will understand me, I have sworn, and I am to keep my word, not to return. I will not return until the person who is governing ends his mandate, and we can recover the formality, the space and the education towards spaces of true tourism. That is all I ask for our wonder, and our imperial city.
I had a hard time writing all this, because it gives me a feeling of embarrassment. But as they say, shame on thieves, not those who seek justice. And as Daniela called me, which means “God’s justice” and my last name was Lizárraga, like the true discoverer of Machu Picchu, Agustín Lizárraga, with whom I am practically (and almost certainly) related. I dedicate these lines to him and I promise not to shut up. Our world wonder must be what it always was, a legacy for humanity and a reason for our pride.
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