Thursday, October 16, 2014

Another Adventure ... More Lessons

Getting ready for the market
After my adventure crawling through the caves and climbing the pyramids, I woke up with most of my body protesting. It seemed like a good day to hang out, nap and work on my Spanish flashcards. Little did I know the Universe had another adventure in mind.

The cenote adventure had drained my last peso as well as most of my nerves so I only had one thing to do yesterday … go to an ATM and get cash. I wanted to put it off but knew I shouldn’t so I set off, debit card at the ready. First ATM was a bust but it was a small bank and maybe wasn’t open to non-account holders … when you don’t know the language, it’s hard to tell what the “rules” are. Second ATM kept shutting me out but I didn’t know why … same for the third and fourth. Then someone told me to go to OXXO (like 7-11) and they had a huge sign for HSBC so I was sure it would work. 

And, it did, until the last screen said, “Come back later.” I thought maybe the machine was out of money … or maybe there was something wrong with my account. My iPad wasn’t logging into my bank account (the stars were misaligned) so I walked home to check my account (about a mile). Nothing wrong there. Walked back (hot, sweaty, sore) and tried everything again. Nothing worked. So, now even hotter and more tired and frustrated, I went home and took a nap.

Later, one person said maybe the “lines” were down. Another said maybe it was the holidays. I had a $100 stashed in my passport so I exchanged that so I had some pesos and decided I would try again tomorrow.

However, that night at dinner the husband of the couple I’m renting from said there must be something wrong with my account and told me to call the bank. I resisted because I had checked my account but decided to email Chase since my phone doesn’t work down here.  They responded rapidly telling me they had cancelled my debit card a month ago and sent me a new card … to the address in the US where I’m not.

Suddenly things were seeming a bit more precarious. I couldn’t get money out of my account with my debit card because it was cancelled and I couldn’t get money out with my credit card because I had never set up a pin # (I never take money out with my credit card so why would I need it?). And, the bank won’t set up a pin for someone in a foreign country because of security issues.

I’m planning on being down here for four months … how would I manage? Chase told me I could wire money to “my account in Mexico.” Of course, if I had an account in Mexico, I wouldn’t be in this situation … but, if I had an account in Mexico, there would be other issues. 

A friend whose email happened to arrive in the midst of all of this immediately offered to wire me money. I thought, “If she can wire me money, why can’t I wire myself money?” So, I went online to Western Union and at this moment, the problem may be on it’s way to being solved. One never knows for sure … 
Well … it did seem a little too easy. Western Union cancelled my wire transfer to myself because I had never sent one before. Follow that logic for awhile. Anyway, my undying gratitude to my dear friend Judy who trekked down to Western Union in Yellville, Arkansas, and within a couple of hours, her money was in my pocket. I love technology … and having friends who don’t hesitate to bail you out when you need it.

Now, if Chase has indeed rushed a card to me, this little hiccup might stay small.

Travel is a brightly colored university.
Lessons Learned: 
  • Notify my bank when leaving the country (I knew I was supposed to do this but let it fall through the cracks).
  • Have more than one method of accessing money, including having a PIN for credit cards.
  • Stash more “back up” money with my passport in multiple bills. Next time I will have 4 50s minimum so that any emergency doesn’t completely empty the stash. Maybe even have a pre-paid debit card stashed away some where.
  • Get a PayPal debit card.
  • Be eternally grateful for my family of friends.

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