Friday, July 3, 2009
My first crappy (but salvagable) day.
I'm now all the way in Northern Ireland (which is not just the north part of Ireland, it's a separate country- part of the U.K. ) staying for a night at the parents of my other Irish friend from Holland- Claire(now)Rumpsa. Her parents are pretty awesome and oh so hospitable and kind. Cooked me dinner, took me on a tour (georgeous little town called Dundrum), letting me use their computer, and they even had a piano for me to play...
And I've got a ton of fun adventures to update y'all on (15 pages worth of journaling)... But I'll just do it little by little. Perhaps just one story for now.
On Monday, I headed farther west to a town called Cork. Stayed at a delightful little hostel called "Sheila's of Cork"- complete with a sauna, little movie theatre, and complimentary pedicures... And had a good night of walking around the city, watching the brilliant sunset,and meeting my new English roommates (much tamer than the last batch). Everything was going fine until the next morning as I was going to head out on the bus to my next destination (the far southwest- a little place called the Ballinskelligs). Here's where my day started to get kinda crappy. I was about to head out when I noticed that it was raining substantially, but I headed out anyways with my rainjacket covering my pack and parts of myself, feeling adventurous. I got to the bus stop and saw that I had another 45 minutes before my bus came, so I went out to withdraw some cash from an ATM down the street. I look at the machine to make sure it looked ok and untampered with (I've heard lots of stories about people stealing debit cards by jamming things in the slot and then snatching people's cards and such) and it seemed fine. I put in my card and nothing happens. The card disappears and the machine doesn't react. I press cancel. Nothing. I start to get a bit nervous. I press cancel frequently and with a little more urgency (as this card is my only way or getting money on this side of the world). Nothing happens. So I call the help number on the ATM and tell them my predicament and that the machine ate my card and that it seems to not even have worked at all and that it's apparently been messed with, and the dude tells me that they can't do anything about it. I say "What? That's dumb and makes no sense. I need my card buddy." He says that he's sorry but... I call a few numbers, but alas, nothing... So, after thinking about it, I decide that I better cancel my card right away while I'm still at the machine so someone doesn't somehow snatch it when I leave and go on a little £10,000 shopping spree in the next 10 minutes before I can cancel it. I call the canceling people (I had this number written down just in case- I was pretty darn prepared for everything on this trip apparently) and as I'm making the call my phone goes dead cause it ran out of minutes. This leaves me in a sticky predicament. Not wanting to leave, but not able to do anything from where I am. A girl comes to try to use the machine and I tell her not to cause it's not working and it ate my card and I'm kinda screwed and have no phone and am a bit frustrated. She offers me her phone, but I tell her that it's an international call and that it'll cost a few £ (that's the sign for euro in cause you've not seen it- it's on the keyboards here) but I can pay her. She says that she doesn't have much on her phone, but that she'll go put more £ on it and come back. I thank her and she heads off. I wait, feeling very helpless and she (her name's Sara and she's from Italy on vacation for a few days- doing some "couchsurfing" actually- which is what I'm hoping to do later on as well. Couchsurfing is basically a network of folks willing to host a traveler for free and show them around their city- a hospitality network of sorts) comes back, phone charged, let's me use her phone as I call a bunch of numbers and cancel my card. She waits with me for 45 minutes ish as I settle everything, which was just awesome. Pretty neat that someone'd be willing to help out a stranger like that... So yeah, I worked it all out and I'll be ok cause I ordered a new card (mom + dad, maybe you can ship that to corrymeela when it arrives- we'll talk more...) and had a good cash reserve on hand just in case something like this would happen. And I met a new friend and we ended up talking for a bunch at the bus station. I declared her my "hero of the day", snapped a pic of us and headed off to my my next stop (which I'll tell you more about soon, but it's 1 a.m. here and I'm in need of some sleep so I can get up at a decent hour tomorrow and go for a run).
Here's my new Italian "Hero of the Day" and I at the bus station after the drama.
More to come...
Posted by Brian at 3:47 PM