Gambling on the South Side

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After a week of rain, it was time to escape our tiny casita and venture out. Only the sky wasn’t actually clear and clouds seemed to part temporarily. But this was the break I was looking for, nonetheless.

On the other hand, Miro was loving the rain, as it’s given him the time to read, write, play games, research and visit with his friends online without his mom insisting he head out on some adventure, exploring some new archeological site.

The rain abruptly stopped raining around 4:00 on a Monday and I so wanted to get out. My friend and fellow traveler Lorene, was itching to escape the confines of her hostel too, and since Miro didn’t want to join us, we decided on doing something ‘adult’. I had an idea, something I normally wouldn’t do, something outside of my comfort zone. So, I suggested “How about we visit one of those casinos?”

She said, “sure, why not?” And so, off we went.

I have to state here that  I do not gamble. I don’t even normally play games, other than backgammon or card games with Miro. I don’t really enjoy computer games and only a few times in my life have I visited Las Vegas. It’s just not my thing. But my thing has become, stepping out of my comfort zone and challenging any preconceived ideas and being as open as I can to new things.

So, when I suggested to Lorene, we go to a casino and she agreed, I was kind of happy. I searched some tips on playing in a live casino on the internet. Since we were both are on a tight budget, we agreed to each stick to spending no more than  50 soles (which is more or less $20) and when that was gone, we were finished.

So off to the casino we went.

The guards opened up the sparky doors for us and beyond was a room of rows and rows of electronic slot machines. I asked one of the attendants if there were tables we can play cards and she said no, this is all there way. So Lorene and I walked around trying to see what all the options were. We found slot machine games called ‘Supper Happy Fortune Cat’, ‘Kitty Glitter’, ‘Nefertiti’ and many more. Finally we settled on two side by side games. Mine was called “LA Gator” which had a cartoon alligator, glitzing it up on the Hollywood Hills. Ok, I’m from LA (Los Angeles), maybe this would bring me a little luck.

Lorene decided on the next machine over called ‘Pelican Pete’ which depicted, well, you guessed it, pelican’s playing cards.

We sat down, each inserted our money and started pushing the buttons. There were 5 rows of spinning images and depending on how much you bet, you win according to which pictures fall on which path. But for the life of me I didn’t understand why I was winning when I was winning and why I was loosing when I was loosing. I sat and pushed the button, over and over, not knowing if there is  a strategy to my ‘playing’ or if it was completely random.

I bet ‘max’ each time, figuring there are more chances of not knowing what I was doing and winning anyway. Round and round the images went, and my total points went up and down. We sat side-by-side pushing the button for about an hour while watching our totals go up, then down, then up again. Then finally for me, it went down to zero.

For me, I didn’t tap into the excitement of the gamble, the exhilaration some feel while playing. I wondered why this was enjoyable for many, when it was a simple button pushing and waiting. I wonder if it was because I did not have a goal, nor could I apply any strategy or skill to the playing. But then, I wonder if that was because I lost?

Then next to me, Lorene’s machine was singing ‘ding’ ‘ding’ ‘ding’!! It was a chorus of bells as the digital number in her score window grew and grew. We both sat there and watched the meter going up, higher and higher! And finally when it stopped, she had the equivalent of over $100 dollars! “Not bad” I said excitedly! And she sat there grinning. And then she looked at me and said “I’m done,” and hit the cash out button.

So, that was our exciting night at the casino in Cusco. We each were served two free drinks, and paid for sitting at the machines. We got to look around, become engrossed in the sounds and be a participant in something I don’t normally do. It was fun, but I honestly don’t think I have that gambling bug.

Would I go back?

I really don’t have the desire to. But I am glad we had the experience.