Tatiana and I are embroiled in an argument about a requested Airbnb refund for a booked-and-paid-for lakeside “villa” on Lake Peten in Guatemala. We didn’t flake out and change our minds on a whim — we were unable to visit Guatemala at all because of an idiotic, Covid-related decision by the Belizean border authorities that stated tourists with a rental car could enter Guatemala but not return to Belize.

We obviously couldn’t enter Guatemala under this condition, although we’d been told that the border situation was in flux and that we might somehow be able to wriggle through and visit Guatamela anyway, especially given that Tatiana and I are double-vaxxed. So we didn’t formally cancel until the last minute.

We’d been corresponding all along with our Airbnb hostess, Amabely, who was nothing but polite and considerate. We told her early on (i.e., last month) about the ridiculous Belizean regulation and that it would prevent our staying in her rental if the situation didn’t change. In one of her letters to us, Amabely said that under these circumstances (a) “I understand your hesitance to travel” and that (b) “you may cancel your reservation if you desire, now or last minute.”

The original reservation dates were for Sunday, June 6th and Monday, June 7. Early on (before we arrived in Belize on June 1st) we asked Amabely if we could shift the dates to Monday, June 7, and Tuesday, June 8. She told us this was not a problem at all.

We waited and waited on formally canceling because we were told in Belize that the Belize-Guatemala border situation was opening up and that Belize might soon relax their restrictive policy. And so we waited because we wanted very much to visit Guatemala, Flores, Lake Peten and Tikal. We wrote several times to Amabely about this frustrating situation. She was entirely understanding of the particulars and fully sympathetic in every message she sent us.

It was our fault for not FORMALLY changing the dates of our reservation via Airbnb software, but we knew that Amabely understood the problem and would roll with the situation if we were forced to cancel due to the bizarre Belize-Guatamela border policy. Again — she had told us “you may cancel your reservation if you desire, now or last minute.”

And then, all of a sudden and out of the friggin’ blue, Amabely and her husband Oswaldo decided to stiff us, using an Airbnb reservation timing technicality to do so. But why, we asked ourselves, would Amabely abruptly reverse herself after being so kind and understanding about our travel uncertainty for many weeks? We could only conclude that Oswaldo had stepped in and was declining the refund out of pure greed.

It’s obviously reprehensible of Amabely and Oswaldo to refuse to refund our booking fee (roughly $200). I’ve told the senior Airbnb mediator (who struck me as a total wuss) that it’s completely derelict to ignore the facts and particularly the correspondence between Amabely and myself, and that he needs to adopt a more engaged and considerate attitude as the facts are entirely on our side. Amabely and Oswaldo knew all along that we were being prevented from entering Guatemala, and they knew exactly why.