According to my guidebook, marriage offers here mean nothing! It says that Ghanian women won’t take men seriously unless they tell her they love her and want to marry her. There goes my somewhat inflated ego!
So, our first night here we had a security briefing. We were told NOT to use ATMs, NOT to use banks, NOT to use credit cards and use only cash or traveler’s checks. Ok. Ummm, I’m a 21st century traveler. I use ATMs everywhere I go for cash. But, the say fraud out of West Africa is very high.
My options? Try to go to the one British bank, use thier ATM and cross my fingers. Oy. So, I went my first morning only to learn that the ATMs only take VISA debit cards. Mine is a Mastercard. I have a VISA credit card, but don’t know the pin to make a cash advance. And my bank won’t issue a PIN by phone. They say come back Monday morning and do a cash advance. The embassy security officer says, “nuh uh”. He says that’s like giving my credit card number to an entire village.
While I have a cell phone here, I haven’t been able to a call out. But, I have texting ability. At this point, facing a week with nothing in my pocket but $50 and some old Wrigley’s gum I start rabidly texting my BFFs Julia and Sheryl. Between the two of them, they make contact with my mom in Panama and my Dad in Virgina and get money wired to me in Accra. Don’t cheer yet, I still have to find the Western Union and pick it up today!
The other thing I learned at the briefing is that Ghana changed thier curreny just last month. Prior to the change, 10,000 cidi (cds) equaled about $1. And that was one bill. So, imagine the stack of bills you would get if you bought dinner for 250,000 cidi! So the new currency has a 1 = .92 exchange. Far more resonable, right? Except many of outlying villages and craftsmen haven’t converted to the new currency. So I might buy water for 15,000 cidi, pay for it with 2 cidi and get 5,000 cidi change! Dawn thought the math for her skirts was tough!
I forgot to add yesterday that the weather has been tremendous. It’s never gotten above 80 and been pretty breezy with a coolness from the ocean. They say this is thier ‘winter’. I’ll take it over the 90+ weather I left back home in Baltimore.