Monday, March 29, 2010

Never a Dull Moment

I worked on my 'denuncia' last night, and Rebecca put hers together this morning. We went to the Minsterio de Turismo armed with two folders, one with all the original documents and the other with copies. Our original itinerary, the amended itinerary, the invoice, the copied 'denuncias' from our visit to the Galapagos Tourist office, and our new expanded 'denuncias'.

When we had been confronted by Freddy at the tourism office in Puerto Ayora, things got out of hand very quickly, and while Freddy and Janeth and their lawyer were handling our denuncias and threatening the staff, one of the ministry employees led me upstairs and advised me to speak to 'Glammys' at the Tourism office in Quito. I was concerned that Freddy would make the 'denuncia' disappear, and I do believe that is what happened, because Glammys was supposed to have received the 'denuncia' and been advised about our case before we showed up today. Of course she had heard nothing, so I believe Freddy intimidated the women at the Tourism office in Galapagos.

Glammys was receptive and understanding and immediately requested that 'Christian' from Ecomontes Tours come to the office to discuss the complaints we had about our trip. He sent Chuck instead (Chuck sold us the tour). Christian has never answered my calls or called me back and has always referred me to Chuck, and although Glammys had demanded that Christian come to meet us, he stayed away. We demanded all our money back but of course Christian was resistant. I was concerned about Freddy, and of course he was illegal and had no right to be operating tours. Since he was not registered with the state, he was shut down immediately. I really do not know what that means. Rebecca and I both believe that there is a 'mafia' like organization at the docks and that Freddy is part of it. Glammys reassured me that Freddy would not be able to solicit from or provide services to tourists.

She threatened to shut Ecomontes Tours down if Christian did not satisfy us. When we returned at 4 PM, Christian again did not meet us. He sent a cheque for the land tour portion of our trip. Rebecca and I argued that we would not have bought the plane tickets if we knew that the land tour would be as horrible as it was, that the plane tickets were part of the 'tour' we paid for. Glammys did not feel it likely that we could go after the plane ticket price, since we had used the tickets to fly. Time was running out and it was exhausting to fight and fight, so I finally gave in and accepted the cheque for the land tour portion. I am not feeling entirely satisfied, but I did not know how to argue for the rest of the money.

Glammys was appreciative of our visit, and very accommodating. I plan to visit her again in a week or so and follow up on Freddy's status, and check on Christian too. I want to find out what happens in Galapagos and his operation.

We sandwiched in a visit to the centro historico for lunch at 'Hasta la Vuelta, SeƱor; the story is about a priest who caroused nightly until, as he was climbing over a crucifix, God talked to him and convinced him to stop going out nightly to visit the ladies. I tasted the fanesca again, which was thicker and richer than yesterday's version.

We decided to celebrate our visit to the Ministry of Tourism by having dinner at 'La Ronda', which was eerily quiet with few guests. We tried 'canelazo' tea, and chose to eat in the bottom of a restaurant with live music. The live music turned out to be taped, sometimes with karaoke, I ate a monster empanada de viento, which Deborah had ordered but did not touch. Maya was falling asleep in her chair most of the evening, while we listened to mediocre music. I liked being in la Ronda, and wish that Monday nights were not so quiet, so that Debra and Werner could take advantage of this delightful part of the centro historic.

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