Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cape Town looks alot like Buenos Aires

We knew we were early for our flight. My mom was flying home the same day we were headed to South Africa, so we went to the airport with her a good four hours in advance. What we did not know, is that our flight was inexplicably delayed SIX HOURS. Who's ever heard of a flight being delayed six hours for no apparent reason?? A roundtrip cab back to the city for the day would cost 200 pesos. A bottle of good wine in the terminal's wine shop would set us back 40. We made ourselves comfortable.

After bidding farewell to my mom, we filled several hours with wireless internet, McDonald's and Malbec. Just before the currency exchange closed, we sold our last few hundred pesos for a fistfull of South African Rand. When our check in counter finally opened (at nearly 10pm) we moseyed over, anxious to finally unload our bags.

Now, I've discovered a pattern in the way that Reece and I deal with, how shall I say, unfortunate situations. Reece allows a moment to take it in, and immediately begins working on a solution. I experience a cycle of disbelief followed by denial.

When the gentleman behind the counter took a long look at my passport and informed me that I would not be permitted to board my flight, I knew there must be some sort of mistake. When he explained that South Africa requires an entire blank visa page in one's passort in order to enter the country (which I no longer have), I was certain there was a way I could get around this. And when he went on to warn that if I DID take the flight I would be arrested upon arrival in Cape Town, my brain ceased to function entirely.

It took me a good five minutes, while Reece discussed our options with the kind man, before I acknowledged that we'd really just spent six hours at the airport for nothing. That it was now very late to try to find a hostel. And that - SHIT - we'd just rid ourselves of every last peso we had. You're probably be thinking, "But surely there must be an ATM machine at the airport, right?" Yes my friends. However, much like back home, the end of the month means empty bank accounts (Reece's financial advisor issues us "paychecks" every two weeks).

Lucky for us, I had one or two good ideas before we left the US. One of which was to open a separate account with a couple hundred dollars in it for extreme emergencies. Since Chase ATM cards have a Mastercard logo, I figured it'd be smart to have a B of A Visa card as back-up, in case certain countries only accept one or the other. Or, you know, in case we ever exchanged all of our money for a currency belonging to a country I'm not allowed into. Either way.

Anyhow. The bad news is, our cab back to the city was outrageously overpriced and the hostel we got stuck in was awful. The good news is, our US passports finally did us some good (as opposed to merely requiring us to pay outrageous reciprocity fees in every country we visit). We were able to bypass the TREMENDOUS line at the embassy, there was no charge to add pages to my passport, and they took care of it on the spot while we waited.

Now it's three more days in BA, before Cape Town Attempt Round 2. Wish us luck.

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