ATM card hell…The consequences of not leaving South Africa as previously planned…

This is our Basket, the Bully, who was thrilled to see we’d returned to the bush. Many weeks ago, he appeared with a bloody right ear which now is but a stubble of an ear that seems to have healed nicely.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Wildebeest Willie was so happy to see us he didn’t bother to eat a single pellet for several minutes after Tom tossed them his way.

It wasn’t as easy as canceling a few planned flights and tours and losing the money associated with doing so.  We had carefully planned every step in our upcoming itinerary to ensure a seamless transition from South Africa to Kenya to South America to a cruise to the US and a flight to Minnesota from San Diego.

Now, all of these plans are dashed, and we reach to the future to make new plans with affordability as a critical issue after losing tens of thousands of dollars in non-refundable fares and fees. One might say we should have had travel insurance.

But in the real world of non-stop travel, this type of “trip insurance” doesn’t work. We don’t have a home, and any journey we do is not considered a “trip.” To acquire such insurance, we’d have to lie about our lifestyle, and that’s not our way of doing things.

Besides, it’s difficult to be reimbursed for any claims for a good trip, let alone trying to file a claim for an untruthful application. Even now, we struggle to get our medical policy to pay for my heart surgery, as they claim I had an undisclosed pre-existing heart condition (not the case).Of course, we are grateful I’m am alive and imply no complaint or sense of unfairness. The fairest thing in the world that ever happened to me was this condition being discovered in time.  For this, we are eternally grateful.

Nonetheless, there are consequences we must bear for these last-minute changes in plans. Fairness is not an issue. Reality is the issue, and as much as we’d like to bury our heads in the sand, we have no such option. Life continues with or without our approval for such consequences.

In tomorrow’s post, we’ll share some of those consequences and the economic effects and burden they have placed upon us, not as a warning to potential world travelers but as a revelation of what worst-case scenarios may transpire while choosing a lifestyle such as ours.  

We always knew this day would come, but life seldom provides enough warning to make us better prepared. No doubt, we were thrown for a loop and work diligently now to muddle our way through many of these.

One seemingly minor issue that never crossed our minds during these past two weeks since the surgery was our debit/ATM cards. With mine expiring on February 28th and Tom’s on March 31st, we faced quite a dilemma on how we’d easily access cash. 

Basket has the most prominent side warts of any warthog we’ve seen in the garden in over a year.

When we made our original world travel plans, we chose five credit cards that best serve our purpose. We each had ATM/debit cards we could use at a relatively low cost to access all the cash we’d ever need. Since we’d never used PINs on credit cards since we didn’t want to access some money from the cards, we didn’t give it another thought. Thus, we never requested PINs.

Perhaps this was an error on our part. We should have ordered the PINs. But, once we left the US and began using a mailing service, we didn’t want PINs coming to the postal service, although the company is bonded and highly reputable.  

One short-term dishonest employee could wreak havoc on our cards if they perused our mail. We felt safe and in control using our bank ATM cards for all of our cash needs. Little did we know that we’d be unable to collect the renewals cards, arriving in our snail mailbox in Nevada, USA.

With the former upcoming original plans, we’d be in the US on April 8, 2019, and could collect our renewed cards at that time, leaving only a short gap in time without access to the cards.  Tom’s card was sound until March 31st, during which time we’d have been on a cruise with no need for an ATM card.  This only left us with an eight-day gap.  We never gave it much of a thought.

But then, life happens, and the blur of the past two weeks brought us to these past few days realizing we wouldn’t have a working ATM card until we received them in the mail from the mailing service.  Mail service is not ideal in South Africa. It’s possible they’d never arrive. Plus, Tom’s card had yet to arrive in Nevada with its 3/31 expiration date.

In the interim, when Tom tried to get cash from his card yesterday, it wouldn’t work. Some convoluting security block had made use of his card impossible. This morning we spent 90 minutes on the phone with Wells Fargo, attempting to get the situation resolved.

Much to our relief, after the call dropped several times, they sent us two new cards via FED EX International. They removed the block on Tom’s card, which we can continue to use until 3/31, while the new cards arrive within two weeks. Situation resolved. Fiasco averted.

This is only one of many issues we’ll have had to maneuver during this challenging period. Then, of course, there are immigration issues, more flights to be canceled, more cruises to be canceled, the hospital insurance claim, and my many months of recovery to tackle, and… it goes on and on. But, we’ll continue to chip away at each obstacle as we face them head-on.

But, above all, I am alive, if not blissfully so, temporarily fuzzy-headed from the somewhat mild pain relievers and a plethora of heart-related medications slowing me down, but…I am alive.

Photo from one year ago today, February 26, 2018:

A foam tree frog nest, made overnight by the female frog awaiting up to one dozen males to fertilize it. We’ve been watching for the males but have yet to see them. In this post, four years ago, we had the opportunity to see the males fertilizing the nest. After an incubation period of a few weeks, the tadpoles will drop into the pool of water to complete their growth cycle. For more details, please click here.

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