April 2, 2007
Instances which might warrant using our carefully folded and secretly stored emergency US cash:
1. When being threatened by official looking men at borders, customs/immigration officials on a power trip, police with four stars on their shoulders. (This has not happened to us, yet.)
2. In situations of national emergency, i.e. floods, earthquakes, tornados, severe political unrest or any time when we need to get out of a country as quickly as possible. (This hasn’t happened either.)
3. When Graeme is accidentally left behind in a small village many kilometers from Kumasi and we need to pay to get him back on the bus. We’d run out of cash on the way back from Mole and convinced a bus driver to let us pay later. At the town of Techiman he pulled over and pointed Graeme towards a bank, then drove away.
I exercised my vocal chords and knowledge of the local language when I was forced to stand up on the bus and yell, “Me kunu!” (My husband!) to get the driver to stop (which he eventually did, only after finding a service station to fix the exhaust pipe). First they kick him off the bus to get him to pay for the journey (we had jumped on at a junction, not at a station) and then they leave him in Techiman.
I jumped in a cab and went to get him back, still penniless since the only ATM in town was, of course, broken. We managed to cut a deal with a man who just happened to be carrying many, many millions of cedis (could have been billions, actually) and was willing to be our exchange service on the side of the road. We might as well have asked the chickens what the going exchange rate was! He joked that he was from the First West African bank after holding the fifty dollar bill up to the sun to check its authenticity.
The village in this photo is NOT Techiman, it's a village we passed well before the banking fiasco.
The women sitting near us on the bus thought the whole experience was hilarious and so did I, once me kunu was safely back on the bus again.