While I was solo traveling around Argentina on a budget, one of my must-see places was Iguazu and its breathtaking waterfalls.
So you know, I did the usual, every modern girl things would do before the trip. Book my flight, book an inn (making sure there is a shower in my single bedroom and a WiFi connection beforehand) that won’t cost me a fortune, plan a day trip, download a Google Map scratch of the zone. Which I did.
I will spare you the details about the flight to Iguazu, which was one of those moments in your life when you start to rethink everything and swear you’ll start going to mass every Sunday morning instead of going out every Saturday night, and stop eating sugar. In a nutshell, a 2 hour flight became a 4.5 hour flight due to heavy storms and extreme rain. I just remember the non-stop, extremely heavy turbulence, nausea mixed with hunger and wet shorts (well yes, I might have peed a bit . Don’t judge me – that’s how scared I was!).
When I safely set foot on the wet tropical ground, I even hugged the taxi driver who was taking me to THE inn with affection.
The inn was a decent place. Nice room, a plasma TV, WiFi connection, hot water, air conditioner. The only thing missing was electricity. So none of the prior was available for me. There was only darkness, disturbing noises produced by what probably were gigant monkeys dancing on the roof (according to my imagination), mosquitos and incredible hot and humid tropical air.
The inn was situated in a kind of slum neighbourhood. Let’s call it TheSouth Bronx of Iguazú. And the lady who owned the inn… lovely and chatty as she was, ripped me off.
Now, you are probably asking yourself, – But how, Natalia?
How on Earth can someone rip you off if you make a reservation through a well known website (aka Booking.com). Well, apparently Argentinians don’t give a damn and always try to rip you off (apologies to the Argentine nation, I am making the statement based on my own experience. Also, kindly note, that I happen to have dear friends in Argentina who are the loveliest and the most beautiful humans in the world).
The original deal I got on Booking.com was: free booking and paying upon arrival. No upfront payment was required. But still, you are guaranteed to pay the agreed price for you reservation. In my case it was 90 USD for a two night stay, which was a fair price according to my previous research.
When I got the confirmation from Booking they clearly highlighted that I would have to pay in cash and in local currency (according to the exchange rate that day).
But here is a surprise, the owner said that she didn´t mind if I paid in USD. I wasn’t carrying any USD with me during my solo trip (a HUGE mistake. But at that point, I was not aware of the fact that USD has more value than gold for Argentinians). I politely said that I am prepared to pay in the local currency. Well, apparently me not carrying around American dollars pissed her off. And less politely, she billed me 900ARS (which is around 15 USD more). As you see 115USD was not the deal I had gotten while making my reservation via Booking.
-You argued with her, right? She was clearly ripping you off Natalia – you might think.
Well, I am not a good example of woman who stands up for herself easily (let’s blame my shy personality or heavy personal baggage I come with, shall we?). So I paid what she asked for and zipped my lip.
– Why would you do that? Especially when you were almost broke at that point in your trip and still had to make it to Buenos Aires? – you might add now.
Well, I should have pictured the outdoor scenario a bit better at the beginning of my story.
For starters, imagine a storm with heavy rain. The kind of rain you would never experience in Europe. Now, double it. No electricity, no Internet connection, no mobile connection, being in the middle of nowhere surrounded by slums and giant monkeys. Oh right, and I was starving! Long story short, I was in a tropical hell. If I had had an optional hostel close to me, believe me I would have left that place within a minute. But I did not.
The next morning I continued with my travel agenda. I woke up early, visited the Iguazú Waterfalls (which by the way are OH MY GOD freaking amazing!). And the day after I peacefully headed to Buenos Aires.
But you already know that I wouldn’t be myself if I hadn’t taken revenge on the mean owner lady a bit. And of I did! Huahuahuah (that is my evil laugh).
A continental breakfast was included in my accommodation in the hostel. And every morning the owner lady would prepare a separate breakfast plate for each guest (there were 3 other tourists apart from me). Nothing fancy, regular stuff (muffin, a slice of bread, butter and dulce de leche). But she would also put a piece of delicious papaya and other fruit on the plate, which was the best part of the breakfast. So the last morning I got up earlier. There was nobody at the table yet. And as an act of revenge I ate other people’s fruit (and two additional pieces of dulce de leche) on purpose. I hope it gave her at least one bad comment on Booking. See how evil I can be 🙂
Once I got back safely to Spain I submitted a letter of complaint to Booking and asked for refunding the difference in the price of reservation (between what I paid in cash and what I was supposed to pay according to my the deal I had gotten on Booking). And after only 2 months of their internal investigation and me sending them thousand of ¨documents¨ and “evidence” of the rip off, they actually sent me back my 15 USD.