When I rolled out of bed this morning I did not anticipate that my daily adventure would entail a very long, many mile search for money. It all seemed simple enough… we would head to the Zocalo to get cash, go by the school to pay for our classes next week, and then go to lunch. I chose to pulse out money for the school because using a credit card would incur an 18% charge, and my conscious just wouldn’t allow me to throw away that much money. However, the school payment wiped out my cash and when I went back to the ATM, I discovered that I could only take out money once a day. Sure, there were other ATMs around town, but all of the reputable banks were now closed and all that was left were shady ones at local establishments (Which is a traveling no-no).
We went to lunch at a rib and wing restaurant that happened to be showing the big European soccer championship game. Little did we know that it was a popular local sports restaurant and my, was it a fiesta. It was loud and the fans were feisty. I’d venture to say that we learned a few new Spanish curse words, which was exciting. In the end, however, it turned out to be a cultural experience and all of the kids learned a valuable lesson. There were three American young men there who had WAY too much to drink. Mind you, it was 12:30 in the afternoon. One of them fell over a foosball table in front of the entire restaurant and sat under it for several minutes unable to move. Once he finally got up, he must have seriously injured himself because he could barely hobble out of the door on his own. The three eventually made their way out the front door, making a spectacle of themselves while all of the locals just shook their heads in dismay. The young men proceeded to sit on the curb outside the front door for the duration of our stay and were still sitting there when we left. I gladly used the opportunity as a teachable moment. “You see kids, always use moderation in everything you do and when abroad, don’t act like a stupid American. It’s people like these three men that give all of us a bad name.”
Then we were off again. I had to go all the way back to the house and get US dollars and another credit card as a back up. Turns out, there was only one exchange house open and just to exchange dollars to quetzals would have cost me $36 in a rate reduction (or hidden fees). So, we headed back to the only open bank in the city and I used a different pulse card to withdraw more money. Phew! Who would have thought getting money would be so difficult?
We then headed over a few more blocks to a travel agency and set up a trip for tomorrow morning to the Pacaya Volcano.
I get the feeling that no one is too excited to get up at 5 am, but I imagine that when they roast marshmallows over a lava flow it will have been worth it. Vamos a ver!