Sometimes things are not easy. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes you are not prepared.
I left Bangladesh with a little sadness in my heart. My 2 weeks spent there had been fantastic and although I really wanted to visit Nepal I was a little sad to leave all the people I met there that have been so kind to me. As usual I didn’t bring any money across as I prefer not to change currency. I arrived at Kathmandu airport and after all the paperwork for visa (that luckily I could pay by card) I was ready to start my journey.
At the airport there is only one ATM. And it was out of order… Thankgod the taxi driver agreed to take me to my hostel anyway and stop along the way to let me get the money. I tried a few ATM but none would work. As we were getting closer to the hostel I was starting panicking. I had only a few rupees that Joy, my host in Bangladesh had given me. And that was it.
We arrived at the hostel and the guy at the reception was nice enough to pay the taxi for me. Obviously by the time all this happened the driver was already asking for more (1000 instead of the 700 agreed at the airport).
I paid without saying anything because I was too stressed and didn’t want to make it worst. After checking in at Pomelo house hotel I went around the city trying desperately to get money from ATM. Without any luck. The stress at that point was sky high and I was on the verge of a breakdown. One of the CSer I was in touch with contacted me and invited me to his place for dinner. I was so thankful because with the little money I had in my pocket I wasn’t able to buy any decent food. Shalik lives in a two rooms apartment. And when I say two rooms I really mean two rooms. Adjacent but not connected. The bathroom is on the stairs and common to the floor. In one room there is the “kitchen” and one bed. In the other room, the kids’ room, there are 2 single beds. His wife doesn’t speak a single word of English but she’s been very nice and prepared a lot of good typical Nepalese food. When I asked Shalik how they met, he explained to me that his was an arranged marriage. They actually met 10 minutes before the ceremony but they’ve been together for 8 years now. In Nepal divorce is legal but not well accepted.
After dinner I went back to the hostel and I was so tired by the day’s events that I fell asleep right away. The day after I tried again to withdraw money from ATM but without any success. So I resolved to call my bank and after a long chat and many explanations the guy on the phone told me that my card was not compatible with Nepali ATM machines. I was desperate. Shalik was so nice to lend me some money but I couldn’t go very far with that. I could have a decent meal and then some but nothing more than that. It was so frustrating. I had the money in my account but there was no way for me to get it out. I wanted to cry. In the meantime another CSer contacted me and he also tried to help me. Gokarna invited me for coffee and drove me around the city in his motorbike. But my problem was not solved and I couldn’t really relax and enjoy the country. I thought of “cashback” but in Kathmandu very few places have card machines and those that have it don’t even consider cashback. It was a catch 22 situation. I managed to pay the hostel by bank transfer and they agreed on giving me cashback. It wasn’t much but it was something.
And then I thought about money transfer something that I have always considered with horror. But I had no choice. I downloaded the app and tried to make a transfer to myself but the stupid app only allowed me to make the operation in cash. I was stuck again. So I called a friend in Spain and he agreed to do it for me. Earlier I had moved to Gokarna house so at least I didn’t have to worry about rent and food.
Joan made the transfer right away but his credentials needed to be checked. So the money was not available for a couple of days. I was a little more relaxed now but still I really wanted to get the money. Chances are that theses days is holiday here, “Thiar Diwali” some sort of feast of lights, so almost everything is closed. Western Union included. So at the moment I’m still waiting to get hold of my money. Hopefully tomorrow the situation will be back in order and I will be able to start to enjoy Nepal.
I’m so grateful to have good friends. It’s the most important thing in this world. And you know that you can count on them especially in hard times. And it warms the heart.