I like visiting museums and ruins, but travel is about those little shared experiences. A friend reminded me of one of those we had in Puno, Peru, a town next to Lake Titicaca, high in the Andes.
We were in Puno as part of an amazing Discovery Tour from Gate 1 Travel called Peruvian Legends. The tour, one of the company’s first, is a new concept for them, small groups with all-inclulsive luxury accomodations. All the excursions were included as well as overall it was a magnificent experience. We had one night in Puno and ventured into the small town for some beers and pizza. As in other locations, we had been advised on taxi prices before leaving the hotel, pay no more than ten soles (about $3) for the five minute ride from the hotel to town or vice versa.
We had fun at some reggae bar, enjoying our super-sized Cusqueno beers, then headed across the pedestrian street to a pizza place / Italian restaurant. By the time we left the restaurant, the rain had started falling and we walked to the main square, the Plaza de Armas to find a cab. We hopped in and agreed to pay 15 soles ($6) for the four of us. As the cab drove, the rain got worse and one of the main roads was starting to flood. In the middle of nowhere, he told us, no it’s too flooded and the ride would be 50 soles ($20), not 15.
We argued back and forth without really agreeing, but he kept driving. I remembered the hotel had a security gate at the bottom of the driveway and a guard and I suggested when we arrived at the gate, we give him the original 15 soles and get out of the cab and walk past the gate. I must have been voted down, as we all drove through the gate and arrived at the front door. I gave him 15 soles and I think my other friends ended up paying him the balance.