Friday, April 29, 2011

Peru - Interlude: Adventures in Detection

Our hotel in Puno was nice, but not great. We could see the bell tower of the cathedral from our window, and one of the beds was big enough for two. But, there was construction on our floor, so all day there was constant banging, and the strong smell of adhesive and sawdust that was just blocked by shutting the door.  Worse, our smoke detector needed batteries. Every five, or ten, or even twenty minutes it would BEEP! This wouldn’t be a big deal, normally, except I couldn’t get anyone at the front desk to understand my plight!

I said, “The smoke detector in my room needs a new battery…”

And the woman said, with a big smile, “No no no no no. You can’t.”

“I… can’t? No. I mean, the… smoke detect…”

“No smoking.” And she smiled.

“I don’t want to smoke. The… detector. Um… alarm? The…” I gestured to the ceiling. “You know… if there’s a fire… It’s beeping. It just needs a battery. You know. A battery?” I’m miming the whole time, and probably look pretty stupid doing so, while looking around for one of two people in the group I know speaks Spanish. I don’t know if there is another way to describe this thing that hangs from a ceiling and beeps when there is smoke.

But she stopped me. “No, no. That’s impossible.”
“…Uh. No… It’s not…” We went back and forth a bit, with me trying to explain, and her not understanding, and she finally agreed to send someone up to the room. Which was all I really wanted. If I could just show someone what was wrong, then surely they would fix it, right? Or, hell just hand me a battery, and I'll do it myself! 

But, an hour passed, and no one came, so I made a call. And the same conversation was repeated, over the phone, almost word for word (the same woman, obviously), except when I asked that someone be sent to the room, she refused at first. It was only at the end of the conversation that she agreed to send someone up to see what the problem was.

Except no one ever came. We tried to deal with the problem ourselves, but our attempts resulted in nearly yanking the whole detector out of the ceiling. So we dealt with the beeping. All. Night. We didn’t sleep well at all, and Jason was already feeling bad, having caught the crap that many of the rest of us had caught.

As we prepared to join up with the others and get breakfast the next morning, we snagged JC and had him communicate our peril to the front desk. Finally! Someone understood! She wrote something down in a book and pointed a guy wiping down the front doors. They were going to fix it! Hooray!

Away to Titicaca we go!

(…but this isn’t the end…)

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