Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A minor crisis

The bus journey wasn't too bad even though it was 36 hours. I'd charged my ipod with some new music, found a nice book and watching movies on board with the Argentinian countryside unfold with nice music was quite blissful. I found a nice hostel very easily, and they organised all kinds of outdoor activities as well. Decided to share a small van with some other people, and we spent the day driving past wineries, up the Andes, past Aconcagua (the highest peak in South America) and up to the Chilean border. It was quite cold, so when we got back it seemed a perfect time to open a bottle of local wine, and chat with the other people next to a fireplace in the wine room of the hostel.

Checked my email and noticed an email from my bank account in Boston. Turned out that someone in Rio had stolen my debit card information, and withdrawn some money. I didn't have much money left in that account, and in spite of travelling for so many months had stayed within my budget. I have money in my Paris account, but can't use it till I'm there physically, but I'd calculated that I had enough to last me till I catch my flight from Buenos Aires to Paris next week. Whoever stole money from account, left me with 25$ - which is not enough for a week even though Argentina is quite cheap.

I realised the only option was to call the bank, but that meant heading out in the cold, buying a phone card and then using the phone in the main reception area. It wasn't the ideal place to call from, as it was quite noisy. I had to talk very loudly, and my voice carried through the wineroom where everyone was sitting. I was put on hold a couple of times, but finally shouted that this is an emergency - being stuck in a small town in Argentina with 25$ in my account - and got some attention.

They decided the best thing to do was to cancel the card and mail me a new card to where I was. That wasn't the best thing as I'm travelling and don't have an address, and somehow don't trust them to send me a card within a few days all the way to this part of Argentina. They asked about a mailing address in the US, and when I would be back, and I paused. I don't have an address anywhere right now, and have no plans of returning to the US. My brother's address was the obvious choice, but he moved recently and I couldn't find his address, so I decided the best thing was to call them tomorrow with all the details. They went ahead and cancelled the card anyway to make sure whoever stole the information can't use it again.

So, I'm stuck in Argentina, with almost no money, and no debit card. In situations like this, there are solutions - Western Union. Since London is 5 hours ahead, I emailed a friend in London and realised he'd get my email first thing in the morning. I realised that he'd be the first to read my email (people from India can't send money via Western Union outside India). Sure enough, I woke up this morning and he'd sent the money instantly. Picked it up from the Western Union outlet and suddenly felt rich.

Shit happens to me all the time, and somehow this one didn't leave me too worried. I know the money will get credited (it's not a huge amount anyway). Anyway, after all my shouting on the phone last night, I realised there wasn't much else I could do except wait so I just returned to the group, picked up my glass of wine and started chatting with them. They looked more stressed than me, and this morning kept asking me if things had worked out.


Tabula Rasa said...

so much for your impression of crime-free rio, eh?

hope things work out okay.

bandafbab said...

Crime of a different variety, though. Things seem to be working out. I should be able to get back to Paris in about a week.