Sunday, August 12, 2007

You are never too experienced or too smart to get scammed

I`m currently in Canaima, Venezuela. I`m in the middle of a trip home for a friend`s wedding which will take me through northern Brazil, Venezuela, and Panama.

The last few days I was in Manaus and Boa Vista in the north of Brazil. Manaus is the jumping off point for excursions to the Amazon Forest. You can sleep in the jungle, boat down the river, and all kinds of stuff. You can even do crazy month-long excursions where you go deep into the jungle to unexplored areas and meet indigenous tribes (actual ones, not ones that make their living off of tourists).

Anyway I just wanted to do a couple of days, sleep in the jungle one night, go see the encontro das aguas, the part where two rivers come together to form the Amazon and don`t mix right away, traveling side by side for about 10km. Anyway so this usually takes 3 days and 2 nights to do, but I wanted to do it in 2 days and 1 night if possible. This guy made some calls and said yeah it would work out.

Anyway I`ll spare the details (and in hindsight I definitely should have seen trouble looming), but basically the guy that sold it to me and the operator ended up blaming each other and I ended up not only not doing what I was sold, but doing less than even a single day trip because of the logistics. So I paid about $100 more than I should have.

I`m always learning things traveling. Mostly about the places I go to, but also about traveling itself. I think the biggest lesson from Manaus was to buy a tour directly from the operator itself. Or buy with a credit card - I really wish I could call Visa right now and alert them to fraud, but of course I paid cash. Lesson learned.

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