Thursday, April 1, 2010

American Express Travelers Checks: Don't leave home WITH them!

As we spend our last night in the recycling community before departure I thank beloved wife and partner Sybille for watching over us from afar and swiftly managing all the mini-crises that arise in the field from home base, writing and calling and connecting Kenyan partners with us as we source difficult to find materials that will make or break the project.

April 1 at 1:55am 

Tips to those who may follow in our footsteps: stay away from American Express Travellers checks (or any other); they are all but worthless; can't change them in Cairo airport or any banks, money changers or hotels (even the big ones) and the only Amex office on Kasr El Nil/Talaat Harb charges 3% to cash them (on top of the 1/% to buy them) and ... See Morewarns that in the rest of Africa either you can't cash them or might pay up to 12%. They say the business is closing because of ATMs. Very scary situation since all we have are travellers checks.
tip 2: buy all the plumbing parts you can in Cairo; in Kenya there is an Indian monopoly on supplies and everything is 2 to 3 times more expensive than even Europe or America; we must scale back our project because of this - 1 system costs as much as two or more should; water tanks cost as much as 250 dollars each and there is no aftermarket ... See Morebecause people struggle so hard to get them they use them until they fall apart. Very sobering. To think one of the poorest countries is also one of the most expensive. Now we have to rush back to the market and see how much we can haul in our luggage from Egypt.
April 1 at 2:03am ·
tip 3: watch out for malaria medicine; in Cairo Chloroquine Phosphate costs only 20 cents for a package of pills but is useless in Africa, Larium costs 50 dollars for a package of 8 pills, and besides being expensive can cause psychosis in some people (and nightmares and other sideeffects in others) and Malarone, which is the only one you can ... See Morestart 2 days before departure, isn't available anywhere in Cairo. Typhoid, Cholera and Meningitis shots cost 15 dollars from govt. center in Mohandesseen for first shots (must follow up on return with second shot for 8 dollars within 28 days) but Yellow fever only available in Giza far away and they close at 1 pm. In case you were curious...:)
April 1 at 2:08

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