Tag Archives: dollar
August 29, 2011

Thoughts on Namibia

Our GPS track through the Caprivi Strip

Believe it or not, I don’t think we took even a single photo in Namibia. So, here’s our GPS track, instead!

Our time in Namibia amounted to just one day as we decided the best way to get from Botswana to Zambia was via the Caprivi Strip.  The Caprivi Strip is a strange stretch of land that doesn’t seem like it should belong to Nambia at all, but it has a very straight road through a wilderness preserve that leads right to where we were going.  Getting there was a day-long adventure, however.

Early in the morning, we were dropped off at a remote border outpost between Botswana and Namibia.  Getting our respective exit and entrance stamps turned out to be the easy part.  When we asked how to get to the next town in Namibia, a very friendly border agent said, “Oh, you’re just a little too late.  Why, a car went by just a half hour ago!”

No buses, no taxis.  Waiting for a car and asking if you can ride along is business as usual way out there.

It took another hour or so, with us sitting on the curb by our bags, but eventually some kid drove by in a 90s-model Honda SUV.  There were already four people in the car, but Oksana asked if we could ride along.  I volunteered to climb in the back with the bags.

Once we started driving, I saw two things that gave me second thoughts about our ride.  First, the driver was using the emergency hand brake to slow the car.  I stared with dread fascination whenever he attempted to pass slower vehicles around blind curves.  Nothing was scarier than watching him yank up the e-brake, in the face of oncoming traffic, to get us back in our lane.

Except, perhaps, realizing that both the driver- and passenger-side airbags had been previously deployed.


January 28, 2004

Cuba: Money in Cuba

Cuban National Pesos (20k image)Part the Third: Money in Cuba

If you’re anything like me, then your first couple days in Cuba will likely be spent roaming the streets of Havana, admiring the architecture, dodging illicit cigar sellers, and shooting roll after roll of film. After that you’ll spend the next two weeks scratching your head, trying to figure out how the Cuban monetary system works.

Let’s back up a bit.

The first and biggest problem you’ll have (as an American traveler) starts before you even leave the States. You see, that senseless embargo is going to raise its ugly head and bite you in the ass again.

Remember that no American companies are allowed to support Cuba in any monetary way. While in Cuba you won’t be able to access your bank account with an ATM card. Nor will you be able to use any credit card that is issued by an American bank. You can’t use traveler’s checks, either. Western Union won’t even be able to transfer money to you in Cuba! (However; I understand that it is possible to send money via Western Union to a Cuban citizen with an existing Western Union account.)

How can an American refill their wallet while in Cuba? For all intents and purposes, they can’t.