Thursday, December 24, 2009

Nothin' But Time

This is how things go when traveling. My taxi driver came to get me today to take me to the ATM and then to the bus station for my bus to Musanze. This should have taken about a total of 20 minutes. BUT it turned into about 2 hours. Nothing is simple or as it seems when you travel.
I knew ATM's that accept international cards were hard to come by in Rwanda but I knew you could go into the bank to get money. I did bring quite a bit of cash from Tanzania, but, as usual, it is going fast. Since I am headed out into the countryside for up to a week, I did not want to have to worry about running out of cash so I decided I better really stock up.
So my taxi driver, Bosco, comes to get me and we head to bank #1. Side note - this is how great the people are here, Bosco escorted me everywhere. We get to the bank to see this mob gathered around the doors and the guys inside are trying to push the mob back to close the doors and lock them. This kind of freaked me out because when you are traveling you often don't know quite whats going on. I have no news contact and can't understand many of the languages around me so if there were some national emergency or problem I may not figure it out for a while. (Rwanda is right next to the DRC which has major problems and there is occasionally some spill over. All the guide books tell you to check the travel warnings before coming. So you can understand my paranoia) It also bothered me because Bosco did not speak a lot of english and he could not quite explain what was going on but he just kept saying that it was not good. OKAAAAAY!!!
Then we go to bank #2. They do have ATM's but they do not work for international cards. They tell me to go upstairs and they can take care of me there. So turns out I could get cash off my card but the fee was something like a flat rate of $35. I thought that was a little crazy. When I came in yesterday I was able to use and ATM at the airport but the airport is pretty far away. So Bosco and I discuss the situation. It would actually be slightly cheaper for me to just have him take me all the way back to the aiport. It would cost a lot but I would rather have the money go to him than the stupid bank. So we drive like at least 30 minutes out to the airport where I was, fortunately, able to get more cash.
Then we have to go to the bus. We get to the area where the bus is and, because of the holiday, it is a total mob scene. I get a little freaked out here around bus station areas, especially with the mob scene. Generally bus station areas here are not the safest but when traveling this way you can not avoid them. So Bosco insists on leaving me in the car and going and getting my ticket for me. Hmm, maybe not too safe for me here? I don't know. So I give him like 25,000 francs. I keep getting the currency here mixed up with Tanzanian shillings but it is significantly different.
So after what seemed like and eternity of "scared little white girl hunkered down in the car" he returns with my ticket. However the buses are packed and I can not leave until tonight. So I now have a ton of time on my hands and no where to go. Fortunately the internet place and my favorite coffee shop are within walking distance.
Bosco goes to drop me off and I pull money out of my pocket to pay him. He keeps telling me I already paid him. We sat in the car for like 5 minutes going back and forth about this because I was sure I had not paid him. He just kept laughing at me and telling me I did. He keeps telling me something about the money I gave him for the bus. Finally it dawns on me my ticket was not 25,000 francs but 2500 francs and I am just getting my currency mixed up.
Anyway that is just one little story of how helpful and nice everyone has been here so far. He could have totally taken me for like 40 bucks but he just kept arguing with me til I understood. He gave me his number. He will definitely be my taxi driver when I come back.
Also wanted to let everyone know that I do get the posts you put on here and I REALLY appreciate. It makes me feel really good to read them and it also is kind of cool to know a few people are interested in my little adventure here.
Traveling solo, no matter how many people you meet, will always have it's lonely times. So every bit of contact with the outside world makes a big difference. So again thanks, it means the world to me.
P.S. You will have to excuse all my spelling and grammar errors. For some reason the spell check does not work on the computers here.
P.P.S. Seems there really is no national emergency. Guess that particular bank was having some issues.

1 comment:

  1. Merry Christmas, Amanda! I can't tell you how proud I am to know you and how much I admire you taking off on this adventure! When things go your way, you know you are right where you are supposed to be. Enjoy your travels and be safe!