Rather than repeat the daily routine, I thought I would tell you more about my Scotiabank woes and some Camino gossip.
Last year in Mexico Amanda told me about the Scotiabank advantage. No foreign transaction fees and they have partner banks in Europe and Mexico, so ATM fees are also waved. So I opened an account, put my travel funds in it so I could better track my expenses and save some fees. I also got a Scotiabank travel credit card as that includes 6 Airport lounge visits! High living for the traveler. Yahoo! So I would take my Scotiabank debit card and a different VISA credit card.
In Mexico I had my VISA cancelled due to suspicious activity on the day I was to leave. My plane was hit on the tarmac by a luggage truck causing an overnight stay. Westjet took care of everything including another night accommodation in Calgary as I had missed a connecting flight but the airport hotel wouldn’t book me in even tho I had a WestJet voucher to cover the room. They insisted I register a VISA with them in case I had the midnight munchies and raided the bar fridge. Westjet came to the rescue again when the local Westjet agent came with me to the hotel an gave them her credit card! Way to go Westjet! Anyway, long story to say I now know to have a backup card, a Westjet VISA.
So, as I explained before I also took British coins left over from previous trips with me. I only needed less than £10 for a bus ticket to my hotel and back. It turns out my coins were worthless having been withdrawn from circulation. So I put my Scotiabank card in the ATM at the Gatwick terminal and it wouldn’t go in. So I pushed it in. Flashing signs and a warning about tampering with the machine stared me right in the eye while the machine ate my card!
Let me explain that I had fought river otter $#@&, boated to Nanaimo, walked the shoreline, taken a sea float plane to Vancouver, taken the sky train to the YVR Airport, flown to Iceland landing in a storm, got soaking wet getting off the plane and on a different one, flown from Iceland to London, Gatwick….with no sleep. I mention this to explain my befuddled frame of mind. I panicked.
I phoned Westjet VISA to inform them I was travelling and please don’t cancel my card as it’s the only one I have. I also tried phoning Scotiabank with no luck. I tried 4 different numbers advertised on their websites. I tried toll-free, I tried collect (as stated on their website), I went through a couple of international telephone operators, I tried different prefixes. I gave up. I emailed the general bank email and asked them to cancel my credit card. 24 hours later, no answer.
Plan B: Amanda to the rescue. She phoned Scotiabank and got my account managers name, phone number and email. I emailed the account manager asking to cancel my credit card and if it was possible to courier me a new one. I got an immediate reply (never a good sign) saying she was away until October 9th. Maybe someone checks her email while she is away? As it turns out…no.
Meanwhile I finally get an email back from the bank responding that yes, they can cancel my credit card but be aware that while it was cancelled the account would be limited and please confirm. Oh, and yes we can mail you a replacement couriered collect. I wasn’t sure about the ‘collect’ as being do-able as I wasn’t going to be stationary.
Plan C: I phoned my niece Annie to ask her to accept a mercy mission. She agreed to break into my house, find my wallet, and steal my Scotiabank debit card and courier it to Ivor who lives in Santiago de Compestella and acts as a post office/storage centre for pilgrims.
She reported back that the mission was successful …except…the card did not look like a debit card, it looked like a credit card! Oh shit. I logged back into my bank email and had a cheery second email from the bank. “I wish to inform you that we have successfully cancelled your credit card“!
So the ATM had eaten my debit card and I had cancelled my credit card!
Plan D: My sister Cathy will finance my travels and I will guard my Westjet Visa with my life. Cathy will withdraw funds for me and anyplace I can use a Visa, I will, except of course ATMs.
Yesterday a woman walked, no, sashayed past us. Tall, lithe, a yoga walk…you know…graceful, every invertebrate perfectly aligned. Long arms swinging in rhythm with her legs. She smiled as she passed. Half, I-feel-your-pain and half pure smugness. A summer t-shirt. Thin straps, no sleeves, a nice drape at the back showing well tanned and toned back muscles taking the light weight of a small day pack. A mini skirt of slow drying cotton. Long shapely legs and wearing plastic sandals. She wouldn’t be a pelagrina, not looking like that, not in that attire and certainly not in those shoes. Why was she walking this trail?
This was in total contrast to Cathy and I, hobbling along, hunchbacked over our walking poles, holding them to keep us upright, using them to drag ourselves forward. Our backs soaking with sweat from carrying our heavy overweighted packs. Clad in our daily ugly attire designed to grab sweat and wick it away in the most efficient way. We have been walking West for days, so our left sides are more tanned than our right sides. Our feet are bound into two pairs of socks, our outer pair is not navy blue as purchased but chalky tan from dirt as are our clunky but comfortable trail blazer running shoes.
Ten minutes later I asked Cathy ‘did you see those shoes?’ ‘Whose shoes? Sexy’s?’ And that is how we named her. Remember Piet from Rotterdam? Tall, good looking, liked adventure. Cathy was sure she had seen Sexy having dinner with him the night before. They had seemed like husband and wife, a little disinterested with each other and both speaking Dutch (which explains their height, the Dutch being notorious for being tall). But we hadn’t seen her before on the trail and I had seen him on the train arriving at Jean Pied du Port by himself. ‘Perhaps she joined him in the last few days. Maybe by car and maybe it is his turn to drive the car to the next stop?’
Last night in Estella we met Joyce again and had dinner. I mentioned Sexy and she immediately knew who were talking about. ‘Oh, they are not married. And she is the one in control of that relationship. She mentioned going to look at shoes and he said he would go with her. She told him flatly that she would go by herself.’
Joyce emailed later that night to tell us that Sexy was in the bunk below her and Piet in the next room. Sexy walks quickly but Piet is fast behind. He is in hot pursuit.
Distance travelled: 21.5 but Cathy’s Health app says 24k
Weather: sunny, a bit too hot in the afternoon
Items lost and found:
- Lost: Scotiabank debit card weighing only 4.6 grams but worth its weight in gold.
- Lost: Daypack weighing 64 grams
- Lost: One strap for my hands-free umbrella holder which hasn’t yet been tested and won’t work with a strap missing
- Lost: Pen, which I err borrowed from a hotel in Gatwick and cursed as someone had used it to stir their coffee. It kept dripping coffee every time I tapped it upside down. Still it was the only writing implement I had.
- Lost: a clip to attach the earphones to my pack so I won’t lose the earphones. Go figure.
- Found: 2 x €20 bills which will pay for another daypack.
Food: cafe con leche at 7 a.m. Red wine at 8 a.m. after that I forgot what we ate until that evening when I had a pasta with wild mushrooms.
Health: we don’t look so good but we are actually healthy.