Thursday, 17 January 2008

Patience is a Virtue.

Patience is a virtue
Virtue is a Grace
Grace is a naughty girl who didn't wash her face...

Patience is a characteristic that a cruiser does well to cultivate, and one that I personally have to work extremely hard at developing. Dealing with the sometimes-convoluted bureaucracy that goes along with checking in and out of a new country. Chasing up missing deliveries, communicating in different languages or just waiting for the right weather, all require patience.

Yesterday was a case in point. Off we had toddled to Fronteras, a bit of shopping to do but mainly the need to replenish the cash on board. I try not to have too much real money around as its not only tempting to spend it, but I am always aware that it is something easily stolen.

That said it was a beautiful morning, cool and bright. The dinghy started first time and we puttered gently to the dock at Bruno's.

It is a pleasant walk up through the main street, vendors to the left and right, loud Latin music playing, overladed trucks shouldering their way through town.

"Buenos dias" the shotgun toting guard outside Banco Industriales said with a broad grin. Us pale gringos are always nannied along by courteous locals.

In to the little cubicle that house one of the two ATM's in town. This one is much preferred by the cruisers as it only swipes your card never taking that precious object from your possession.

I punched my way through the menu, si , si, si. The machine told me it was taking a $1 handling fee. Si again, you don't like it but what can you do. Nice counting sounds and then... nada! Eventually a sign Muchas gratias and the thing closed itself down.

TBH and I looked at each other, shit I hate it when this happens. Leaving him to guard the machine I trotted in to the bank and in my broken Spanish attempted to explain to the desk clerk what had happened. Of course nobody in this situation EVER speaks your language!

"desculpe" (excuse me)
"mi carte esta una problema!"
"el machino dice gratias, adios No dinero!!!"

With a lot of hand gestures and vocal imitations I was told to return in one hour. Okay got the name of the clerk, collected TBH and off we went to do some shopping and have some breakfast.

I used the card in the other ATM, no problem except that I could see that the money had indeed been debited by the rogue machine so we were going to have to fight to get it back... oh dear.

Actually, touch wood, we have been fortunate whilst cruising that this is only the second time we have experienced this kind of problem, the first time being in St Maarten's. That was sorted quickly and painlessly by our bank. No reason not to believe this would not be the same.

After an hour back we went, no madam it will be another fifteen minutes. Okay we shrugged and dumped ourselves down on the two available chairs preparing to sit it out in the air-conditioned comfort of the offices. Thats one think I have learnt, the skill of just sitting, smiling at all and sundry. Looking as though we are there for the duration - and sometimes we are! We talk quietly to ourselves, sometimes one of us goes for a can of cold drink or we get something to eat. Eventually it usually gets to the staff who try and studiously avoid eye contact. Finally one of them always breaks! A tentative smile and we begin the shrugging, gesticulation and mangled language to begin sorting the 'problemo'!

After repeating my pantomime of the 'malo machino' (bad machine) to just about the entire population of Fronteras we wrung a letter, on headed notepaper, out of the manager. It confirmed the malfunction, agreed that we had reported the 'problemo' immediately and that was it. All very good-natured but still no 'dinero'. Oh well at least it wasn't too much.

Back at the boat I began the process of reporting the event to our own bank. I have every confidence they will sort it out...

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