We packed up our stuff from the “Omega Tours” in Pico Bonito and headed to town to stock up on supplies, gas, and cash. We were planning to drive out to the remote “Miskito Coast” and needed to be prepared for anything.
We load up the grocery cart with tons of food, water, beer etc. Hit the register and try to pay with our debit card. Lady tells me its not working for some reason… OK, try this one? Still not working… Great. OK Let me go pull some cash from the ATM.
ATM is not working either. Crap. We try Lauren’s card, same thing. Nada. “Please contact your bank” UGH. Worst case scenario as we now have no money, no food, and no phone to call to figure out what is going on.
We apologize to the clerk and abandon our cart full of crap in the store, luckily we were in a mall and figured we could find a payphone/internet café to call the bank and see what was up. We went out to the truck and pilfered our last few bits of change from the ashtray to pay for a call.
We find an internet café which is setup for international dialing, after messing around for 20 minutes trying to dial a 1800 number (If you have ever tried to use a phone outside the country you will understand!) we finally get through. Then we end up waiting on hold for 45 minutes…. Lauren and I start to wonder if we have enough change to cover this damn call.
Finally an exasperated man picks up the line, Before I get a chance to say anything he yells “THE VISA NETWORK IS DOWN! YOU CANT USE YOUR CARD!”
Oh. Looks like we weren’t the only ones with problems….
It turns out while we were staring blankly at the grocery store clerk and then confusedly stumbling from ATM to ATM with no success. The entire VISA network in the states was taking a 45-minute coffee break.
We hung up the phone, walked out to the ATM, and tried again. The sweet whiiir of cash being queued up was like music to our ears.
Life is all about timing my friends… 10 minutes earlier we would have had no problems getting cash, 45 minutes later the same. We just happened to arrive at the perfectly incorrect time.
Overlanding ProTip: We have a stash of US currency in the truck for emergencies like this, however the store did not take U.S. money. We now keep a little stash of local currency in the truck as well. You never know when your card is going to crap out on you.