WELL, one of the excellent things about living in The City is that there are always things going on. And I don't just mean free tours at the Natural History Museum (which we do have, and which is free, just like everywhere). No way. We have awesome stuff.
Right now we have an exhibit called "Monet to Picasso" (which is a Big Deal) at our UMFA (which is like 3 blocks from my house). Basically it's an exhibit of Picasso stuff, and Monets, and Dali, and other neat people. It started earlier this summer, and I've been meaning to see it.
Also just starting, there's one of those body exhibits where they have real human bodies, like, without skin. It's at some place, "the Leonardo", by The City Library. I first heard about it years ago when there was a thing about it in Smithsonian magazine. I wanted to see it while I was back east for spring break, but everyone else had already seen it. So I'm totally looking forward to this one.
Anyway, this morning I was running in a 5K on campus, and it went past the art museum. And I realized that "Monet to Picasso" finishes tomorrow. Uh oh. I thought there was another week. So RIGHT RIGHT after the race, I raced (ha!) to the computer lab to buy a ticket online. Because I don't carry my wallet when I'm running, but I have my card number memorized. And online it said they were SOLD OUT!
So the museum was just opening, and I went in to see if that was it. I was still wearing my race shirt, with my race number (507!) pinned on, other running attire on, and so sweaty and nasty.
They said they had a few more walk-in tickets, and when I said I wanted to go home and shower first, and would it be fine if I came back in an hour? she told me I had better not, because they would definitely be gone by then. Apparently they had expected 56? thousand and as of a couple days ago they'd already had 72? thousand. Plus Saturday AND Sunday were sold out.
Anyway, I talked them into entering my card number without me actually having my card and I bought my ticket. I came back later in the afternoon and stood in a l o n g line.
The people behind me told fantastic Machu Picchu stories.
The first one was this:
This couple went on a trip to see Machu Picchu. They had pulled like $300 out of the bank while they were in Cuzco. They mostly used their card, though. They had their bus tickets out to Machu Picchu, and they had to pay for their hotel, and like everything just added up so quickly, they got all the way out to Machu Picchu and tickets were like $70 per person. Well, there were two of them, and they had like, almost enough for one ticket. But like, they had plenty of money on their card, so they just planned to use their card. Exceeeepppt. At Machu Picchu I guess you have to pay cash.
So they had this idea that, there was a cafe there, they'd go to there and eat, and then get money back when they paid by card there. Except, they only accepted cash there, too. So then they went to the hotel (there's only one hotel there, it sounded like), and there's a fancy restaurant there, and they were like well, they will take cards. But the people at the restaurant wouldn't. Apparently the people who were eating there had paid for their restaurant meals when they paid for their rooms.
Turns out, there are ZERO ATMs in the area. The nearest ATM was in Cuzco, four hours away.
And then! Some Americans from Detroit pulled them aside, and a lady was like "I'm not going back in, I'm done for the day" and she gave them her ticket. And the girl was like "Thank you so much!" And the ticket had the lady's name on it, but they were like, well, we'll try. And the kids in the group with the lady, like 'weren't sure' if they would want to go back in. (Even though they were leaving.) (Even though they weren't even staying at the hotel so they were really really leaving.) (But they probably wanted their tickets as souvenirs, which the girl understood, and obviously they didn't have to give them to her, so whatever.) And the girl and her husband had that one ticket and most of the amount for the second ticket.
So they went up to the place where you get tickets, and they showed that they had almost enough, and the people were like..no. So the girl starts taking out her earrings and taking off her watch, and tried to give them to the people who sell the tickets. And they were like ohhh, that's fine. So they let her keep her jewelry, but they took all of their money, including American coins, which you can't even exchange down in Peru.
They had their return bus ticket, so they were okay.
Machu Picchu Story #2
Another lady with the group behind me told her Machu Picchu story. She got engaged at Machu Picchu. On her first date with the guy who later became her husband, the guy pulled out some travel book, and asked her where she would want to go, if she could go anywhere. She picked the cheapest trip, which was to Machu Picchu. It cost $1200 per person for the whole trip, including airfare. (She added, now just one night at the hotel costs $800!) But hers 20 years ago was $1200 per person, including a layover in either Guam or Jamaica. Imagine! So when they went, nobody knew except his sister. None of her people knew. They went to Machu Picchu, and got engaged!!!!!! and she wanted to wire people with like, Western Union, to let them know she was engaged, but I guess it didn't go there.
They did the rest of their trip. The train in the area crashed, but they weren't on it, because they had changed their plans. It worked better to do river rafting that day. And people were like, you should call home and let people know that you weren't on the train, but nobody even knew the girl was at Machu Picchu, so she didn't call anyone. Anyway, she always had near misses like that, so she really didn't think much of it.
First thing she did when she got back to the States was, she was at like the New York airport and she called her mom to let her know that she was engaged. Her mom was like, "WHAT ARE YOU CALLING ME FOR?!! YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD!"
Apparently, the guy's sister had told the girl's boss (or something like that), and when he heard about it, he like tried to verify that they had been on the train, and the records had said they were, so he called and told her mom that she had died on the train.
When she went back to work, she was just like, excited!!! because she was engaged!!!!! and her boss was like "That was the hardest thing I've ever had to do...call your mom and tell her that you had died..." because how do you make that call?
(Sadly, I have no Machu Picchu stories of my own. We all wanted to go while I was in Chile, on foreign exchange. One of the Big Rules for high school foreign exchange is that you MUST NOT leave your host country. So even though we were super close, we were NOT allowed to go. Lame!)