Why we’re wiring money to a Bolivian man living in Peru….

The first coat of arms of Bolivia, formerly named as the Republic of Bolívar in honor of Simón Bolívar.

I got so frustrated with unsatisfactory answers from various Peruvian authorities on the basic point of HOW TO BUY ADVANCE TICKETS TO MACHU PICCHU that I have finally decided to go through our hotel in Peru’s Sacred Valley (a prime launching pad for people visiting MP) to get tickets. Hopefully this will work but it seems a bit iffy right now. We have to wire $120 for two tickets  via Western Union to a man who works at the hotel, who will then  buy the tickets for us – for a modest commission plus whatever it costs to wire money these days (haven’t done that in three years, since we needed to send our son some money when he was living in Poland.)

In addition we had to give this man our passport numbers (which are required to buy the MP tickets) and a few other distinguishing characteristics (our date of birth, nationality, etc.) and he, in turn, gave us  information about himself that we apparently need to include when we wire money so he can pick up the wire transaction. (This is how we found out he’s Bolivian…he also sent us his passport number and home address, not the hotel address.)

At this point, we have no reason to think he’s not reputable – the hotel he works for is recommended by at least one travel guide I’ve used.  But I’m still uneasy about the whole thing – especially handing over personal info and money to a total stranger in this age of “identity theft” and old-fashioned money theft.  I fault Peruvian officials for NOT making the process much clearer and easier for tourists to understand and follow. After all, MP is their major tourist attraction – and we are spending a lot of time and money to try to get there.

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