Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Festering Swamp of Injustice and Treachery Formally Known as Aguas Calientes

Machu Picchu was breathtaking, obviously.  But Aguas Calientes, the town at the bottom of the mountain, was kind of a dump.  Maybe 10% of the people we saw the night we were there actually lived there.  It was pretty much all tourists who were there to see Machu Picchu.  The town’s entire economy is fueled by tourists, so the businesspeople there try to take advantage of us however they can.  Across the street from our hotel, there was a bar with happy hour.  A group of four of us went for drinks, then decided to stay for dinner too.  It was a great time, but there was a mysterious 20% service charge added to everyone’s bill.  We asked the waitress why it wasn’t on the menu, and she told us it was company policy.  We did some quick research to find out if things like this are common in Aguas Calientes, and many articles said they were.  If the charge isn’t on the menu, according to the articles, it is fake.  The frustrating thing was, we had a feeling we were being scammed, but couldn’t quite form the airtight argument we needed to remove the charge.  So we reluctantly paid the bogus charge, then went straight back to the hotel to complain to Profe.  Luckily, he knew exactly what to do.  He took Rachel and Natalie back to the restaurant and complained to our waitress.  She completely backed off, telling us the charge was optional and that we didn’t have to pay it at all.  So Profe. asked for our money back, and she obliged.  That’s sneaky, though.  Her willingness to remove the service charge so quickly tells me that it was a personal scam for her, and she would have gotten in trouble had her manager found out.  I have to think that for every case like ours, there are many more that are not made right.  It’s a shame that so many people who come to marvel at Machu Picchu are taken advantage of in the town below.

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