Thursday, December 22, 2011

Preparing More for Rwanda

...Alright, so maybe I'll write a few more blogs before I get to Rwanda. It's all so new, and there's so much involved!, that I feel like the preparation process has become an adventure in itself.

There are days in the US when I wonder if my faith in humanity is going to fly out the window. I had the feeling of throwing in the towel on a connecting flight in Phoenix, AZ once. And on the subway most days. And other places.

Today I had it while in Bank of America.

I had to go to the bank so I could make sure they don't block my VISA while in Rwanda. What a terrible plight that would be - being in need of money and not being able to access it in a place where poverty can be closer than normal. I have done this task before for other trips on the phone -  I would just call BoA and let them know, they'd plug it into the system, and I would be ready to go. But alas, something would always go haywire, and I'd be stranded in, say, France without any financial means at the moment. I don't know why BoA wishes to be such a huge pain in the ass about it all, but they succeed. So, I resolve to try this out in person.

The guy, Pedro, was very helpful and eager to make sure everything worked out in my favor. He even noted my past troubles with this specific service of BoA. He was having some technical glitches, but he happily put me on the phone with their service operators. That was a big red flag for me. But...apparently BoA employees even now have to use the dismal automated service to get anything done.

So some guy got on the phone with me. I don't recall his name, but he sure did talk slow. He understands I will be traveling abroad, and we start talking about my account's logistics. He starts by telling me that they have a 90-day cap on the overseas allowance. I ask him what that means. Basically, according to BoA, after 90 days, I should no longer be overseas. That seems a bit ridiculous and cumbersome. I ask him how to prolong the services, and he mentions the only way is to just "call us back in April and ask for more time with your account." As if I won't be using it overseas? This seems counter-intuitive to me.

I ask him, "Well, can my parents do it for me? I don't know if I'll be able to access international phone services where I'll be in Africa. My parents used to be authorized on my same accounts when I was younger - can't they call in as a proxy for me?" Apparently life cannot be that simple for BoA. I have to make an appointment with BoA WITH parents in tow to make them authorized users again and be able to do things like, be my proxy. Does it matter that I won't be seeing my parents during bank hours before I leave? Not at all - I should be able to teleport back to the US and get this thing arranged for BoA. Otherwise, no VISA. Thank you.

So I growled and said, "I'll see what I can do..." And we ventured into other technicalities. He said, "So you're going to Africa, and that is the final arrival?" And I shift around and mumble, "Well, yeah, I'll be in Africa..." (thinking, it's a big continent...).This guy says, "Any layovers? That way you can use your VISA while you're in transit."

Yes! Excellent! For a moment, I felt like perhaps we would get somewhere convenient and helpful in our conversation!

"Yes, I'll have a layover in London, and another one in Nairobi."
"No, Nairobi. It's the capital of Kenya?"
"Is that with a C?"
"Um, no? A K??"
"Oh, I see it here. Ken-yaH."
"Alright, ma'am, is there anythi..."
"-Whoa, don't you want to know the final destination??"
"Yeah, but where IN Africa?"
"I mean, Africa is a continent?"
"London, Kenya, and Africa is what I have for your destinations, ma'am."
My eyes bulged.
"Sir, Kenya is IN Africa. Kenya is a country. Africa is a continent. It's a very big continent. Please tell me my VISA will not be able to travel throughout all of Africa without me knowing."
"Alright, so where else are you going?"
"Rwanda is in Africa?....You know, they had a genocide about 2 decades ago...a big one...?"
"How do you spell that?"
"Oh! We have it here."

And so it went for a while longer, until finally I felt bewildered, frustrated, and much like my efforts to be responsible and proactive are all in vain.

Fortunately, Pedro knew Kenya was a country in Africa. And he knew of Rwanda. But he didn't know much else about them, I guess. I mentioned that they're growing quickly, much like Germany post-Holocaust. Upon leaving the bank, he stops and asks me with a light bulb overhead, "Wait....did the genocide in Germany affect their economy??" Yes, Pedro.

1 comment:

Nicebabye said...

By the far the greatest blog entry in the history of your blogs. The End. Love, Eliana