Lessons Learned the Hard Way: No. 97

12 05 2008

Before retrieving foreign currency leftover from previous trips, kindly ensure that all is in order.


During a brief early morning stopover in Auckland after the very long all-night flight across the Pacific, I headed straight for the Cafe Espresso. I carefully surveyed their appetising display of pies, wraps, sandwiches, pastries and fruit. From my pocket, I removed the small zip lock bag containing all the New Zealand change I had left over from my previous visit a year earlier. I carefully counted it, all the while the tantalising aromas of fresh bread and warm food tickling at my nose and causing it to twitch with excitement. I selected a delicious looking provolone and plum tomato toasted panino and a bottle of fresh orange juice, my hands shaking in eager anticipation of the mini-feast to come. I reached the cash register and presented my selection. The total popped up and I earnestly counted out the exact amount from my brimming hand-full of coins. My arithmetic had been spot on and I was left with just 20 cents. As the attendant gathered my payment, my mouth watered and I could almost taste my banquet.


“Is this all you’ve got?” she asked, pointing at my money.


I answered in the affirmative, my stomach gurgling and a panic setting in. Had I miscalculated? Had I counted incorrectly?


“Sorry love, these coins were pulled from circulation last year. They’re no longer legal tender.”


Utterly gutted, I re-pocketed my useless coins, bid a sad and tender farewell to my orange juice, caressed the sandwich that had so nearly been mine, and headed to my gate for the onward connecting flight to Australia.


Post by: Simon Vaughan © 2008


Lessons Learned the Hard Way: #3

27 03 2008

Kindly ensure that you always check current rates of exchange before visiting ATM machines or cashing traveller’s cheques in developing countries. Thinking I would save myself further bother later, I once exchanged $50 in an Arusha bank and found myself staring at a 5-inch high stack of Tanzanian shillings. Even after sticking wads of them in each pocket, down my belt and into the tops of my boots, I still had a bunch left over and a very long and very nervous walk back to my campsite!


Post by: Simon Vaughan © 2008