Saturday, September 11, 2010

Currency Problems

I have a theory that I can't travel anywhere without at least one thing really going wrong.  There was the time I forgot my wallet when travelling overseas, flying to India on Sept. 11th, 2001, not getting my luggage and countless others. 

This time, it was a currency fiasco.  I thought it would be a good idea to come to Budapest with lots of cash that I could immediately exchange.  Then I could get something to eat, pay my rent and so on.  The only problem was that I couldn't exchange the 220 Jordanian Dinars I had.  Yep, I had over $350 worth of cash that was absolutely useless.  After going to several banks and at least 3 exchange places, I was out of luck.  This country just doesn't have JD's.  My bank account in Jordan had 2 JD's and my debit card for my American account had expired.  I was out of ideas.  I was hungry.  I needed coffee.  On top of this, I had just arrived to a country where I didn't know anybody.  The last thing I wanted to do was say, "nice to meet you, I'm broke, can I borrow some money?"  I can see it now, "hey guys, look at the idiot who brought some obscure currency to Hungary and now is mooching off us." 

In actuality I got lucky to meet a really nice group of people who didn't want to see me go without lunch and coffee.  They fed and caffeinated me.  One person even brought me homemade food.  I was a happy camper.  I also got a briliant idea from a friend.  Call the Jordanian Embassy!  And so I did.  And luckily, the embassador exchanged the JD's to Forints.  I don't think it was a normal service but he did it anyway.  It probably gave him a chuckle and a good story. 

"So there was this American woman coming from Jordan who tried to exchange JD's for Forints in Hungary........"

Getting used to things

As some of you know, I'm in Budapest, Hungary for the month of September doing the CELTA Course. After Budapest, who knows, I might get to go back to the US for a month, which would be great, or I might head straight for a presently unknown destitation.  In any case, I might have to change the name of my blog to Adventures in Some Random Place.

Here are some things I've noticed I'm having a hard time adjusting to here in Budapest. 
1. The Weather.  I really got used to having sunny weather 97% of the time in Amman.  I'm still going through 'weather shock' because it's been gray in Budapest since the day I arrived.  It was rather sunny twice but that's it.  It's also raining for the fourth day in a row.  Depressing.  I feel like I'm in the UK and the weather is the main reason I wouldn't ever want to live there! 

2. Crossing the Street.  I know, this sounds weird.  Crossing the street in Jordan was at first kind of scary, a bit of a production, but I really got used to it.  There aren't any crosswalk lights (see, I even forgot the names of the things) to tell pedestrians when to cross the street.  There also aren't any trams to look out for.  Crossing the street in Jordan used to scare me but I got used it.  People can cross the street wherever they want and cars would generally stop for them, even if they miss hitting the person by a hair.  Also, hearing cars honk their horns all the time became normal.  It was chaotic organization and it more or less worked. 
In Budapest, it's different.  There's a designated area where people should cross the street and there are crosswalk lights (someone tell me what these darn things are called)  I'm not used to waiting for something to tell me when to cross the street, I just cross and people stop.  Here, people don't cross the street even if there are no cars coming.  Therefore, I'm faced with the anxiety of crossing anyway or waiting and being a good citizen.  I'm also not used to the whole tram thing.  I came within a foot of getting hit by a tram twice in the first three days just because I wasn't watching for them.  I was standing in the street the other day, waiting to cross the street, when I got honked at and was given the ' are you crazy' look by the driver.  Nearly everyone waits on the street to cross in Jordan. 

What can I say, I have to get used to things being organized. Until then, I'll have to remember to look for trams, not stand in the street and wait to cross when everyone else does.