This is a fish, of which I caught many before things started to go discordant. The first indicator was that my faithful ITouch went catatonic. Nothing I could do would make it speak to me. In addition it seemed to be using it’s energy to heat up. Weird but clearly an omen lest my parents taught me augury in vain.
I leave Bahia de Kino and head South towards next destination – Alamos. After about 5 hours of driving down dead straight highway through nondescript country I stop in the outskirts of a pretty major town Cuidad Obregon to get a coffee. I notice an ATM machine in the corner of the store and on the premise that it it is always good to have cash, use it. Weird, it refuses my card, oh well I try my French card – refuses that too. Let’s try the Wells Fargo card again. I cannot find it. But you only had it a minute ago you protest. Well, yes but I cannot find it. I go through my wallet 6 times. All my other cards are there but no debit card. I go through every pocket, crawl around on the floor but it is not to be found. I then read the receipt that the ATM spat out and see that the last four digits of the card I used are not those of the debit card but those of my Wells Fargo credit card. That explains why I could not get cash but poses two further questions. Why did I try to use my credit card in an ATM, something I do not think I have ever done before? More important question – where is my ATM card? Without this card I can not get any money and I do not have sufficient cash to even buy enough gas to get me back to the USA. I empty my bags, empty the car, wrack my brains to have a revelation as to whereabouts of the precious plastic. Nada.
I am in trouble.
Following much thought and different possible strategies I work out a plan. I saw a Holiday Inn on the way in and perhaps someone there speaks Ingles. We could track down the hotel where I stayed last night and hope that I left the card in the room. All hotels in Mexico miraculously have fantastic wireless. I can find the hotel’s web site and phone.
Luiscarlos Sanchez Ramirez is behind reception at the Holiday Inn He speaks a little English but he has a big heart. Of course I can use the Internet. Here is the code. But my wonderful IPad has gone catatonic. I was using it to listen to a novel just five minutes ago but now it has given up all signs of life. I turn it on many times, nada. I get the recharge cable and plug it in, nada. What does this mean? Why now after months of faultless service ?
By this time Luiscarlos has quietly found the number, has phoned and,wow, the card is not there. OK, I will have to turn back and try to blackguard my way back to the border,- remember I have little cash and Mexican gas stations are cash only. Once in the USA I can use my credit card for everything. However first I must cancel the card. I have a Wells Fargo emergency number and Luiscarlos phones.
Suddenly everything changes, I am speaking to crazily helpful Wells Fargo guy. “No problem Neil, your card is cancelled and you will receive a new one in the mail in 3 days. Would you like us to send you some cash so you can enjoy the rest of your vacation?”
” We can send money right now to a Western Union office near you and er yes there is one about 4 blocks away from your current location.”
” Go to 802 Ave No Reelection, great name – Ed, give this number and show ID. They will give you the cash.” This is a simplified version of the transaction but with much help from Luiscarlos, to whom I will raise a glass at each festive gathering, I set off into the churning mass of downtown Cuidad Obregon. There is no Western Union office at that address but there is one close by at the back of a furniture store – no joke.
I try to explain in my pitiful Spanish and get nowhere. ” Do I want to buy a sofa?”
Suddenly a young woman of about 17, who speaks perfect English, pops up and guides me through the procedures. At the last moment she says, ” Just give me your passport. I need to make a copy.”
I give her my passport and she zooms out of the store. I have just given my passport to someone whom I have only known for 3 minutes, whose name I do not know, and she has disappeared onto a street of a million people. Oh dear. My energy level is very low.
I should not have doubted for she skips in all smiles with the copy and 5 mins later I am on the road again with my pockets stuffed with cash. I will probably leave it somewhere.
Looking back on this adventure, every single person involved went out of their way to be as helpful as possible. Viva human nature!