When greeted by unfriendly faces upon arriving to a foreign place, get the heck out of there!
After a grueling sixteen hour overnight bus ride from Huacachina to Arequipa, I looked forward to finally reaching my new temporary home for the next 7-10 days in Arequipa. I had plans to volunteer at a hostel by serving breakfast to guests daily.
First, let me tell you that this bus ride was ROUGH and I’d never been so nervous about an accident by bus in my life. This man was driving like a bonafide maniac, running oncoming traffic off the road as he passed vehicles in single lane traffic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s custom in other countries like Belize to pass in single lane traffic, so long as its safe. Operative word: SAFE. Luckily for me, the sun goes down early and fast, so I played blind and prayed “Jesus take the wheel.”
From Nazca to Arequipa, the read was like a snake with the sharpest bends you could imagine, lined with rock walls and cliffs in the middle of the desert. After enjoying Mrs. Doubtfire and Identity (a movie about a serial killer…what a lovely bedtime story), I made an attempt to sleep as my arrival to Arequipa would be at 6:00AM.
Winter in South America seems to have a different meaning everywhere I go. In Lima, the sky was perpetually gray with cool afternoons and chilly evenings. 6:00AM in Arequipa was brutally cold. Needless to say, I wasn’t really dressed accordingly. I was exhausted and freezing, looking forward to arriving to my new home and jumping into bed to sleep until further notice. Well- I was sadly mistaken. To my surprise (despite multiple arrival time confirmation e-mails), my “host” family for workaway barely acknowledged my presence. The door opened and I was told that the hostel was full and that I had to wait outside, on a rooftop terrace for three hours, until a bed would become available. Then the man went back to bed and I was left alone to freeze in the dark, not knowing where anything was.
In panic mode, I searched frantically for other workaway hosts. Out of the six workaways that I’d done over the past 5 months, this was the second miserable group of hosts that I’d run into. I stayed for two and a half days, still barely being acknowledged, trying to figure out what was going on. Then, the same thing happened to me just like at the other nightmare hostel where I volunteered- guests started asking me questions that I had no answers to, because they didn’t find any of the other staff approachable.
Then, it happened. I cried. In Peru. The place that I had longed to visit for so many years.
I called my better half. “You’re living your dream,” he reminded me. Sure didn’t feel like it.
As if things weren’t bad enough, I had also just realized that on my bus journey between Lima and Arequipa- I got bug bites, and we’re not talking mosquitos. Luckily, it cost me $3 to visit the doctor and I got medicine. Only when backpacking for this long would you be excited for flea bites. Yes, fleas. No, I’m not a dog. Or a cat. Nice try. Hey, I dodged dengue, yellow fever, parasites, and who knows what else. When I saw these things, I was absolutely horrified.
All the sudden, it hit me:
- You’re being treated like you’ve done something wrong even though you haven’t.
- You cried, when you’re in one of the coolest places ever.
- This is not why you are here.
Time to abandon ship! I’d rather pay $9/day at a beautiful hostel than deal with these shenanigans.
Moral of the story: If anyone ever makes you feel unwelcome or unloved, get the heck out of there! The world is full of beautiful places and beautiful people. Life is too short to be treated poorly or to feel bad about yourself! And never travel so broke that you can’t get yourself out of a disaster!