Jun 28 2011

Yesterday

Category: Family & Friends,TravelRandall Kelley @ 07:05

We got up early yesterday to go get some cash from the only machine (still working) in Yaounde that takes MasterCard. There were bunches that take Visa, but not so MasterCard. To use my cash I need it, my Visa is credit. Richard has MasterCard only and had spent 30 minutes in the line early Sunday, but wanted to be sure ahead of heading to Buea that he had enough. I had done all mine so far on credit and wanted access to my cash I had set up for the trip. When we got to the machine the line was about 2/3rds of a block long, which is good, as it was about three blocks long on Saturday when we first went by the place.

The line was slower moving this time and it took us an hour and about 45 minutes to get our turn. Once you get there it was nice as they have two machines in a small room, they have a divider between, and there is a guard controlling the door. As Richard said, “You can feel safe to count the money right there.” I pulled 200,000 CFA (they say seefah for slang, or just francs – which is the money here) from each of my Visa and my Mastercard, to have enough for the time in Buea (where the hotel wants cash). That translated to 440 something yesterday and about 420 something a few days earlier at the airport. So I left with 400,00 fresh and about 100,000 and some odd left from before. I was sure I was set for a while.

The next stop was a short walk to the CamAir building for three tickets to the far North on our last week here. All went well until we ask to use a card and were informed, “Yes we take Visa, but the machine is not working, you can only pay cash. So I used all the 400,00 I had pulled plus borrowed some of whet Richard had just pulled. Now I back to the “I need a cash machine stage” in an instant.

Then we headed to the Orange Network store, looking to see if they could put a sim in my iPhone that works here for data. They couldn’t unlock my phone. But the were selling USB antennas for the laptop. In fact, I got it and one month’s unlimited data (their network is all of Cameroon) for about 60 US dollars worth of CFA. Again, “No credit, cash only.” but even if edge is slow, I will have access even when I can’t find WiFi. When I leave I will give the card to Richard and he can leave it with George or one of the other relatives that can use it. As it is pay as you go and has no monthly fees attached, it really is a deal. I wish they had that deal in the US.

Then we went home for breakfast (now about 11:30) and to get ready for the “Two o’clock bus”. The expectation was a newer air-conditioned bus, and we were warned to bring a sweater as they keep them freezing cold. Did I mention this is Africa? It turned out we only made it to the terminal at about 3 or 4 minutes AFTER 2:00 PM, to find (gratefully) that the bus was still in the process of loading, and (not so gratefully) it was a 25 or so year old Mercedes that should have had AC (no opening windows) but didn’t, except for the drivers, the window that had no glass on the entry door, and of course a couple of roof vents. So rather than freezing, we got the Bikram treatment right there. Also traffic was so bad getting out of Yaounde and through Douala. We were quite late getting in. The hotel restaurant was just about to close, but we were able to get a good meal (now about 10 PM), and the place is pretty decent. As I said before, not an unproductive day, just what a productive day in Africa is like. The biggest issue for me was only the time between eating, as that sort of upsets my equilibrium.

After getting fed we headed to the room and I realized I was about to run out of business hours for getting my Visa threat taken care of. Although I had told them I was traveling to Cameroon, I got a voice mail saying if I didn’t call to confirm the activity here I would have my account locked. The 888 number they left wouldn’t work from here, so I tried the local Seattle number on the card and it said it was disconnected, I got on the web and looked up a different BECU number which finally worked. The woman told me there was a note on both accounts so it couldn’t be THAT. She thought it must be something else. When I gave her the number they left she confirmed it was their security people. After about 5 minutes on hold (at reasonable but not cheap international call rates) I find out that it was them, they were going to block it, THEN they checked and saw the note and decided it was OK but DIDN”T BOTHER to leave another message saying, “Oops. Our bad. You’re good to go.” It was a big relief (after several days of worry). Rita says, “I told you not to worry.” and I’m thinking she just doesn’t get how hard it would be to get it going again from over her if they DID cut it off.

But past is past and I’m looking forward to the rest of the trip.

Today is a get organized day for Richard. He starts his workshops tomorrow. Rita went Elise, Eveline (Elise’s sister who has come with on this part of the trip) and Dylan to visit the cultural center nearby. I was getting myself organized, but when I finished and no one had returned I tried an outing. However, my first solo adventure was a “fail” as I did find the spot for the taxi, and got one, only to find out about 20 feet later it was going the wrong way. You see here, not every taxi goes everywhere and you share. So they stop, you say where you are going, if they are going there they beep the horn, if not they drive off. Before I could get one going my way, the rain started, so I backed down and went back to the hotel.

Well, Richard has been back a while (also working on his computer) and now the girls are back, so I’m signing off. I will try to work on and upload some more jpeg versions of the photos tonight. We’ll see how it goes. Best to all. R&R

2 Responses to “Yesterday”

  1. Bartolome says:

    I knew I sould have let you borrow my unlocked iPhone -