Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Connections - Who do you know?

In Central Asia it is true that in most situations it is all about who you know. Connections are a key word in the vocabulary. A few weeks ago when my friend and I were traveling down south I was reminded afresh how important it is to have the right connections.

The sleeper bus we took pulled into its destination at 3:30 a.m., in spite of the early hour the bus driver allowed us to keep resting on the bus until 5:00 when he obnoxiously went around banging on all the windows to wake the patrons and announce our early morning arrival.

To avoid paying overpriced taxi fees we walked to the nearby hotel where I normally stay in that city. After waking up the desk clerk who was not expecting guests to arrive at the crack of dawn, we learned that there were no rooms to be had in the whole hotel. We walked around a little looking for a new hostel friends had told me about, but when we couldn’t find it we opted for the more expensive place close by (we were tired and dirty and willing to pay the almost $40US just to rest).

As we checked into the hotel I mentioned to my traveling companion that they didn’t fill out the right paperwork for foreigners to stay at a location. Which explains why less than half an hour later ( when my friends hair was still dripping from her quick shower), we were kicked out of the one room we had been able to find. The hotel staff felt so bad they tried calling around to other hotels that did have the proper permits to have foreigners. Sadly there was a convention of some sorts going on in town that week and not a single room to be found anywhere.

We left the hotel still weary and maybe even a little cranky. Across the street was a western cafĂ©. The sign said they didn’t open til 9 a.m., but since we live in two time zone at the same time I wasn’t sure if that meant we had to sit on the front step for 20 minutes or for 2 hours and 20 minutes. Either way we feared that we would be back on the bus in less than 10 hours without a goodnight sleep in a real bed.

Twenty minutes later when the coffee shop opened we found the connection we needed. The owner of the shop heard our sob story and offered to help. She made a few phone calls and came out with the name of a hotel written on a scrap of paper. We grabbed our bags and got our exhausted bodies into a taxi. The lady at the front desk at the new hotel gave us a very uncertain look as we stepped through the door hopefully. I told her that my friend had made a reservation for us, the women sat stone still and giving me a look that said “I doubt it, we are all filled up”. I mentioned the coffee shop owners name and amazingly the women sitting across from me had an entire change in her countenance. She pulled out the paper and started the registration process.

One name was all we needed, we not only got a room we even got a discount for knowing the right person.

31. People who are connected and willing to help
32. A good night sleep in a clean hotel room


Unknown said...

HI Karen,
Yesterday, on the way home from Nova Scotia, travelling through Maine, Vermont and N.Y., we arrived late in the day at Watertown, NY only to find all the motels in the area completely filled. That was worrysome because one of our party needed to find rest. Eventually we found a place crawling into bede around 10.00pm.

Not nearly so stressful as your situation but we did have a few anxious moments.

Trust that you are well. Are you still learning al of those colloquialisms that can be alternately a source of hilarity and mortification?

KSA said...

Haha, It is good to hear from you guys, and good to hear that I am not the only one who finds out that "there is no room in the inn" I guess it is not just a central Asian problem. I hope the rest of your trip goes well.