Personally, I like using social media. I know it’s controversial and all, but at the end of the day, we all use it, whether we actively participate in it or not. But a big problem that has fortunately been getting more attention lately, is that everything seems way too perfect on the internet. The way we portray our lives online is hardly ever close to what it’s actually like. And I catch myself doing it too: looking at someone’s instagram profile and thinking how their life is perfect and how they always look flawless and how they get to visit all these incredible places for a living. But we never even know the half of it. It seems so hard to imagine someone could actually be struggling with something when they’re posting these beautiful, stunning photos everyday at the same time. On the internet you can be whoever you want to, which is on one hand beautiful, but on the other hand quite dangerous, depending on how you choose to present yourself. That’s why most people choose to only share specific things – mostly the best „outtakes“ of their lives. So I want to start a series on the blog and from time to time share some of the not so fortunate things that have happened to me during my travels. I do feel extremely happy to be able to travel so much and it’s the most fulfilling thing, but still – traveling is not 100% of the time as enjoyable as it may seem. Pictures never transfer how really freaking cold it was, how you haven’t slept through the night in days, how you got food poisoning because you were short on cash so you bought from the street, how you haven’t been able to shower in a week. In no way do I want to discourage anyone from adventuring and neither will I stop traveling myself obviously, I just want to try and portray a real image and real stories.
> Stuck in the Jungle without Money.
Last december, I went to Rurrenabaque, a small village in the Bolivian tropical low-lands. We had only booked our flight there and wanted to schedule a three-day Pampas tour and returning flight in Rurre. Since we were only planning on staying for five days, we drew some cash in La Paz before heading out there, and brought our EC/Maestro Cards. As there are about 2-3 Bolivian banks who accept those and we were only going to be gone for a few daýs, we didn’t bother to bring a credit card as well. Which was a huge mistake. After paying for our (insanely cheap) hostel, we were already short on cash again and couldn’t even book a tour (to be fair, they’re about 200 bucks), we started searching for an ATM. (Side note for a better understanding: in most places in Bolivia, especially rural ones but also the big cities, you can only pay cash, even for flight tickets etc.) Turns out there were only three, one of them working exclusively for Bolivian cards of that specific bank. So that narrowed it down to two. Luckily, our cards worked at one of them, and we were able to get ourselves a tour, a returning flight and dinner. So far, so good. But when we came back from the tour in need of another accommodation and food for two days, we were almost out again. Not only out of cash, but also out of luck: the ATM suddenly wasn’t working anymore. Fortunately, we had just enough left to pay for the ride to the airport, but another bad surprise awaited us there: fees. So now you’re thinking, well, you’re at an airport, what’s the problem, just draw cash there, right? I’m just gonna go ahead and insert a picture of the Rurrenabaque airport right here. You get the idea. There isn’t even a restroom.
We were able to pay half of the first fee, but then ended up having to ask an Australian girl waiting for the same flight (the plane fit about twenty people total) to borrow us seven bolivianos (about 1€) because they wouldn’t have let us on the plane otherwise. We were so relieved, but nope, it wasn’t over yet. Turned out there was yet another fee: 30 Bs. for both of us. Luckily, this lady was a lot nicer than the one before (I mean, running out of money wasn’t totally our fault since the ATM had stopped working, that there are no ATMs at the airport, that they don’t take cards, and that nobody told us there was a fee – and trust me, I did plenty of research beforehand on everything) and after we explained the situation to her, she was very sweet and nice enough to let it slip and get us on the plane, which I’m still so incredibly grateful for. We literally arrived in La Paz with zero cash, not even 50 centavos, and the first thing we did was rush to an ATM and pay back our lifesaver. Note to self: always, always, always carry multiple cards and sufficient cash with you.
Si piensas que la aventura es peligrosa, la rutina es mortal.
“If you think adventure is dangerous, rutine is lethal.”