I love to travel. I also love to plan a trip. Doing research about the destinations and making reservations might be a burden to some people, but are a pleasure to me. The trip to Peru was an exception. My friend Diana and I were not able to find much hotel information on the internet back then. We were looking for accommodations as we go, and it was not easy.
I remember the day when Diana and I arrived at Cusco, the last city on our list. It was a little past ten at night. We had no clue where we would stay for the next two days, as the city was getting dark. We got off the bus at Plaza Mayor del Cusco where you could still see some lights shinning from the windows around the plaza, which restaurants or bars could be recognized.
Diana and I followed a map and walked through the narrow cobber stone streets leading to Plaza San Blas, where we were told would have more local hotels. We found quite a lot local inns, but they were either fully booked or closed with no one answering the door. Finally, on this quiet street, we found the place called Casa De Luna. It is a four story local inn, exactly what we were looking for. We rang the bell. A middle-aged Peruvian man opened the doors. We told him we were looking for accommodations. He welcomed us warmly and let us in. Everything was nice and clean. And they had a vacancy.
Pablo is his name. He gave us a very reasonable price and checked us in smoothly. He told us he was the “night crew” watching the hotel from 7pm to 7am. Pablo was extremely friendly. He was trying to guess our nationality, telling us his way to tell apart Chinese vs. Japanese and Korean. He told us there were a lot of Japanese visitors in Peru. He also didn’t forget to show off the only Chinese words he knew, which meant hello and thank you in English. Pablo became our first friend in Cusco.
Cusco is a wonderful city, even if it is not the gateway city to Macho Picchu, it is still worth visiting. Diana and I walked almost every corner of Cusco on the next day. When we finished all the sightseeing, it was almost 6pm. We went back to Luna for a little rest. Pablo came to his shift when we were heading out for dinner. He chatted with us asking where we visited. Then he recommended a bar/restaurant, where we had a great Peruvian dinner.
I brought my purse with me during the day, but left it in the room when we went out at night. I took some cash with me and that’s all I need for the night. When we came back from our night out, I put the cash that was left back to my purse. I didn’t have too much cash left at that point. I looked at the money in my purse, it looked like I was missing a 20 dollar bill. I counted the cash. Hmm… maybe I didn’t remember it right.
The next day was another day full of adventure. We visited several ancient sites outside Cusco, which I really liked. After dinner, we went to a bar called Mama Africa at Plaza Mayor del Cusco. It was a great place for salsa dancing and I had a wonderful time. When we came back to the hotel room, I was suddenly intrigued and immediately rushed to open my purse. I counted the cash and realized I indeed lost 20 dollars tonight.
The whole day went on in my mind like a film. I counted my cash last night, had my purse with me during the day, came back for a nap around 6pm, left room around eight for dinner, and came back around midnight after dinner and salsa dancing. Pablo’s face suddenly came to my mind. He was at the front desk waving and smiling to us when we headed out for dinner. Our best friend Pablo was the only one at Luna when I left my purse in the room.
A chill suddenly went through my body. It was only 20 dollars or at most 40 dollars. Why am I so upset? I felt deceived and betrayed. It was Pablo, the super friendly and caring host turned into a sneaky thief. The person who we trusted stole from us. He was faking the whole time. Disappointed, sad, and angry, I jumped up to my feet and told Diana “I am going to talk to Pablo.” “Don’t go now. We should go to talk to the manager in the morning. I told you to bring your purse…” I ran out of the room before Diana finished her sentence.
It was already past midnight. The lobby was dark, with only a dimmed ceiling light. I ran to the front desk. Pablo probably heard the steps and stood up when I started “Did anyone go into our room?” Pablo looked at me without expression. I continued “I left my purse in the room and found I lost 20 dollars.” Now, his face started to act. He looked shocked with his mouth opened a bit. He frowned and said “I don’t know what happened. No one went into your room.” I think he looked concerned and that didn’t feel friendly any more.
There were no guest rooms on the first floor. The first floor was mainly the lobby, the kitchen and the breakfast room. It was quiet at this time and pretty dark. I could see Pablo’s face but couldn’t read it in this darkness. I wondered, if we started to argue or fight, would anyone hear us? What if he is worse than a thief?
“If you don’t know, that’s fine. I will talk to the manager tomorrow.” I turned back and walked to the stairs. I wasn’t trying to get my money back. I wanted to tell Pablo that I knew what he did. I wanted to release my anger. Now if I did that, it might not be a wise decision to confront him at midnight by myself. I should have asked Diana to come with me.
As I walked back to the stairs, Pablo started to follow right behind me. He grabbed my left arm when I was about to walk up the stairs. “Wait, I will show you.” It was Pablo’s lowered voice. I turned around to face him as he pulled my left arm. He emptied his pockets and showed me the money. That moment felt weird. His right hand was still grabbing my left arm, his left hand holding the money to me. He was in a position like he wanted me to take his money. “That’s all the money I have. I didn’t take anything.” Did I ever accuse him of anything? Did I say he took the money?
I managed to pull my arm away from his tight grip. “OK.” I turned back towards the stairs again. Between the darkness, his grip, the cash, and his lowered voice started to make me nervous. As I was climbing up the stairs, Pablo grabbed my left arm again and this time, he was trying to put the money into my hand.
I turned around, he was in tears. I froze for a minute before he started to admit his theft. He was sobbing and speaking in a low voice, “My daughter is in the hospital and I want to buy her some gifts. I don’t have much money. This was my first time, and it was wrong, I know that now. Please don’t tell the manager, I can’t lose this job. If I lose the job, I can’t pay for my daughter’s hospital bill.” He kept sobbing and begging for forgiveness. I lost my energy. I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to end this.
I pulled a 20 dollar bill from his hand and said “OK. Don’t do it again.” He looked relieved, letting go of my arm. I turned around and ran upstairs to my room.
What happened was like a dream. The next morning, I decided to tell the manager what happened. I thought that was the right thing to do. As Diana and I walked out Luna, the manager was still investigating the situation. I heard a young girl telling the manager “He is not married and he doesn’t have a daughter”.
I used to be careless when I traveled. I easily get overly excited in a new place and tend to forget some common knowledge. People used to say when we act recklessly, we are inviting crimes and putting ourselves in danger, which can be true sometimes. Diana constantly asked me to carry my purse with me all the time just like when she did. I didn’t listen, but now I know that I should have.