I just wish that people would stop harshing on my vibe. I mean evertime I get a good groove going, something has to come along and remind me that peace is fleeting so enjoy the hell out of it when it comes.
Now why the preamble? Well this morning I woke up all shits, giggles and grins. The previous nights shark dive, a great nights sleep (despite losing power and AC for an hour or so) and waking to find smiling Kat down at breakfast with a hearty and warm “good morning”. It all just really felt good. Add to that that Faisel had sorted my transportation for today and everything seemed to be in the groove.
Good byes were said, bills were paid, the next leg was to start.
@#^!#%^&* Financial Technology
So if you recall, a few days ago I arrived in Male at the airport. ATM #1 no dice, ATM #2 no dice, ATM #3 no dice… Speedboat shows up and I have to leave sporting all of $80 in cash to an island that doesn’t have an ATM and doesn’t generally take cards.
So between dives and meeting some really cool people, I have been on the phone (via MajcJack app over internet.. mediocre at best) with E*Trade trying to figure out why. The card says Plus Network, the ATM says Plus network, this should work. They updated my travel plans and now I get back to Male and NEED to get money as I don’t have enough to make it to my next island.. Vakarufahali.
Well, aside from a ride over rough seas that would do Jhonny proud in the bouncing my butt off the deck kind of ride, everything went swimmingly. I hit Jetty #1 at 10am and am looking at 6 hours in Male before my next speedboat ride. Priority #1, get some cash.
With confidence and hope, I head to the main branch of the Bank of Maldives.. queue up for the ATM… dripping sweat literally on my ATM card while I wait. I get up to the machine… It accepts my card.. YES! Major progress from last time. I put in my PIN, I select my amount to withdrawl, I choose which account…. WHAMO… sorry charlie… wrong way guys… do not pass Go. “The Previous Transaction Has Been Cancelled” and spit out a piece of paper that says “Not Honored”.
Innefective and Unsympathetic
So on the phone (1am EDT) to E*TRADE. I get India. Funny as I’m like three hours away. I explain the situation and she puts me on hold. Again MajicJack over LTE. My conversation cuts out, she can’t hear me.. finally we connect again. “Sir there is no problem with your card.” I have to admit I nearly lost my shit right there in the ATM lobby.
“No problem with my card”… I’m practically on the equator almost literally on the other side of the world and I cannot get cash and I have a ride I have to pay for in cash in less than 5 hours. I’d call that a problem. After another very long hold session, sweat just in rivulets down my back at this point, I give up on E*Trade, they are not going to solve anything.
But, Hey, I’m at the HQ of the Bank of the Maldives, someone here should be able to help me out. Oh my firends, so so wrong was I.
Circus … Afro… Circus.. Afro
The heading here says it all… Circus! I explain my need to the receptionist. Go up to the second floor (“Customer Service”.. HA!). I explain my situation to the receptionist there. I need to figure out why my ATM card will not work. The machine says Plus, my card says Plus, what gives? She walks to the back with my card. Comes back and says, “we can’t take this type of card”.
I’m quelling my frustration and blanket denials at this point. I ask why? We just don’t take it. But listen.. Plus.. Plus… why? I need to know why so I can fix the problem. Back she goes, I don’t get to actually talk to the man behind the curtain I just get a functionary telling me “I don’t know sir thats just what I’m told”.
So I ask if I can get a cash advance off my Visa card. Sure, just go to the ATM… I don’t have a PIN for my credit card. OH? Then you can’t do that… yes I can I’ve done it before.. not you can’t .. yes I can.. no you can’t…. Can someone just help me figure out how to get money out of my many different funding sources, I’m broke here… huh? Go to the 1st floor and ask them
The First Floor Blues
Well guess what I find at the first floor…. another receptionist. In I go to my explanation and I see right away the glassy eyes of apathy again. “Go see window #3 and ask there”. oooooh I’m getting a little excited someone actually in charge of money I can actually talk to.
Wrongo bongo. This cat can’t speak english to save his life. “Oh your ATM card isn’t working, go to second floor”… @#%@#!!… NO I was just there they sent me here. I want a cash advance off my Visa. Takes my ATM and Visa card, comes back.. “you need to call your bank”….
So I give up, I am FINE.. Freaked out Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional (movie points here!!) I need to step back and figure this out. So they have nice AC here and nobody want’s to pay a shits bit of attention to me so I take a seat at the back of the room and calm down and think.
Western Union To The Rescue
Then it hits me, how did I solve this is Madagascar when I had no money. Western Union. So the one thing I have thats still working is my phone and the excellent data service on it. So I pull up the Western Union website and … VOILA! Where do you want to send money.. Maldives… check.. who do you want to send it to.. William Niester.. check… how do you want to fund it… credit card.. check! CLICK.. success.. your money will be available in two minutes.
Calm heads always prevail. I keep forgetting my own advice from earlier in the trip about being nice and calm and thinking things through.
Exit stage left, 1/4 mile down the street, in the door, produce my code and my passport and 5 mintues later I’m $200 in cash richer.
Peace and calm once again. Tranquility now! Now I’m just jonesin’ for a beer but that’s not going to happen so instead I’ll take some AC. I look up a 5-star hotel and think I can find a lobby snack bar to hang out in. Well I don’t find that but I do find a random coffee shop where I have been sitting for the past three hours writing blogs and uploading photos.
My boat is now 2.5 hours away and I’m not sure how I’ll kill the remainder of the time but I’m guessing I’ll just sit here and read.
It never ceases though. No matter where I am I get weird people in suits and stuff walking up to me and wanting to talk. In this case, on my way back from the restrooms, a gentleman walks up to me (he has been sitting with people on the other side of the coffee shop) and asks me where I’m from.
I say I’m from America and he hands me a slip of paper … here is what it says:
As I have NO idea what to make of this, I’m going to assume he thought I was some kind of hotel reviewer and wanted to talk to me about his establishment. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it 😉
Well, who knows what the rest of the day holds, but I can guarantee you this, it will be entertaining. Why? Because I don’t have a ride to my final destination yet. I get to walk the docks after I get off my next ride and find a ride to my resort island. This place is a little goofy in that they don’t allow certain boats to go to the island so it should be fun.
But I’ve had a diet coke, a water and a coffee and I’m flush with cash so I’m feeling confident again… lets see how long that lasts!