It was 2am. I just landed in Lima on a flight from Cartagena. My flight was nearly 10 hours in total including a 6 hour layover in Bogotá. The night before, I knew I was landing late in the evening so I chose a cheap hotel with a private room near the airport.
When I landed, I was dead tired and I just wanted to get to my hotel. A common piece of advice is to not use taxis outside the airport especially if the car isn’t marked. When I first landed in Bogotá, I did this anyway, and other than being charged more than I expected, I got to my destination safely which is all I cared about.
So I exited the airport and some taxi driver called me over. I got into his car, I told him my hotel, and he gave me a quote of 60USD. This was quite expensive but I just wanted to get there as soon as possible so I accepted it. The driver was kind and he told me all sorts of tips about Peru. He worked for a travel agency as well so he was clearly trying to sell me on all these things.
He then told me that Hotel was located in Rimac, an unsafe area especially for tourists. He then told me that because we were travelling in this area he would charge me 70USD instead. I was in a vulnerable position landing in a new country, at 2am, with limited Spanish, without a cellphone number or data, and with all my belongings. He had all the leverage and he knew it.
As we were arriving in the neighbourhood, the streets were super sketchy and no one was outside besides police and people sleeping on the streets. At this point, I started getting scared. He told me that he was uncomfortable leaving me alone and that he would accompany me to the hotel. But since he’d accompany me, he would charge me 100USD. Honestly, it didn’t register that I was legit getting scammed, I just wanted to get to my hotel room.
After ringing the hotel bell a few times, there was no answer. I was exposed as a tourist right in the middle of a dangerous neighbourhood in the middle of the night. I couldn’t call their number either since I didn’t have a Peruvian number so he called them for me. It took him 3 tries to finally get ahold of them and I finally got to my hotel.
Now it was time to pay. I didn’t have enough US dollars on me so I asked him what 100USD was in Solace, the Peruvian Currency. It was my mistake that I didn’t look up the currency exchange beforehand and I didn’t have any internet to check. He said 600 Solace and I paid up.
As soon as I got into my room I searched up the conversion. 600 Solace was 150USD or 200CAD. I was shocked. I’ve never paid anywhere near that much for a taxi before let alone in Latin America. To put salt in the wound I searched up how much an Uber cost from the Airport to my hotel at this time. 38 Sol or 10 USD. I paid 15x more than I was supposed to.
This was my first time getting scammed to this extent on my trip so far. On the bright side, I’m glad I arrived to my hotel safely. And while this is an expensive mistake, it’s these experiences that you learn from the most.