A saviour in the supermarket
As part of our four-continents travel odyssey last year, we spent six months driving in our 4WD camper truck through South America. Our first destination after collecting our rig from the port in Buenos Aires was Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, as far south as you can drive in Argentina.
After two weeks on the road we entered northern Patagonia. Our GPS co-ordinates took us straight to a planned overnight camp only to find a reasonably new apartment block. This situation called for regrouping — find a service station pronto and obtain diesel so we could search for another overnight camp.
We tried three service stations and none would accept our debit or credit cards. They all wanted pesos. OK, a second regroup would be called for. The decision was simple: find an ATM and get pesos. A number of ATMs were tried, none of which accepted our travel card or credit cards, let alone dispensed cash.
At this point a serious regroup was needed. The outcome would be to locate a supermercado, get provisions and, assuming the register accepted our card, then ask for “cash out”. Yes! The check-out register accepted our travel debit card. So in my best Spanglish I asked for “cash out”. The reply sounded nothing like I had ever encountered in my trusty phrasebook, whereupon a little man appeared and informed me in understandable Spanglish, “Not possible.”
I started pushing my trolley to our rig parked close by, to embark on yet another regrouping session when I was tapped on the shoulder by a young woman who had been standing behind me in the supermarket.
In fairly understandable Spanglish she conveyed that she understood our predicament and felt certain that her bank could help us. She would show us the way. Groceries were thrown into our vehicle and we set off in hot pursuit. Our travel money card was unsuccessful but our credit card hit the jackpot. We had pesos.
As we thanked her profusely and prepared to set off for the closest service station she said she and her family lived on a farm south of the town and we were most welcome to camp there. We felt very grateful. And this was not the only random act of kindness shown to us during our eventful time in South and Central America. Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: firstname.lastname@example.org. Columnists receive a Catherine Manuell laptop compendium suitable to hold a portable computer or tablet plus mobile phone, A4 paperwork and accessories. Available in a range of prints. $89.95. More: catherinemanuelldesign.com.