A saviour in the su­per­mar­ket

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - EL­IZ­A­BETH GRAY TOOWOOMBA, QUEENS­LAND

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: travel@theaus­tralian.com.au. 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.

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