My “dreamy” flight to Heathrow was the start of a week that was supposed to have been a relaxing, peaceful visit to my best friend Allison – pregnant with twins- and her family in the town of Baldock, England. Instead, a number of events occurred which cast a pall of stress over what has otherwise been a fun week.
1. Upon my arrival at Heathrow, I headed to an ATM to get out some British pounds. The first ATM didn’t accept my card. This is not too unusual; sometimes I have to go to several machines to find a company that will work for my bank card. (In Peru in 2008, it took me almost five days for this to work). But then the second machine didn’t work either. I tried five ATMs in all, and none would accept my card. At first, I was irritated, thinking that my bank had somehow disregarded the travel notice that I had placed on my account. I exchanged some emergency US cash and made it to Baldock. When I called my bank, I learned that my card had been frozen because someone had tried to take the equivalent of $400 in Columbian pesos using my card number in Colombia. Um, not me. Crap. Looking back, I am 99% sure that the fraud occurred at an ATM in Antigua that had been tampered with. Luckily, the thief was not able to access my funds (see, those travel alerts do work!). But then, I needed to complete the process of authorizing a new debit card to be sent to me. I can’t continue to travel without access to my cash! Thank God that I would be spending the next week with my friends here in England and hadn’t planned on many cash-requiring activities. I arranged to have a new card expedited to Baldock.
2. Except my expedited card took its time getting to Baldock. Months ago, I had booked a flight from London to Biarritz, France, which was one of the easiest ways of getting to the town which begins the Camino. My flight was scheduled for about noon on Thursday, May 8, a week after my arrival in the UK. On Wednesday afternoon, I was sweating bullets because my card was nowhere to be found. I finally called and had my shipment tracked: my card would not be arriving that day. Which means that I couldn’t fly out as planned. That night was spent trying to rebook flights and hotels, which was stressful and expensive. Apparently high season has already started (I had read that this wasn’t until June and July), so finding a last-minute room in town for two nights without spending an arm and a leg was not easy. Grrr.
3. Just when I thought that my problems were over, I was taking my jacket off while at a coffee shop with my friend’s daughter and mother-in-law. I noticed a scattering of white flakes on my sleeves. (No, not dandruff!) I inspected my rain jacket to find that the interior waterproof lining was disintegrating. Not what you want to see when you are scheduled to start a 5-week trek across Spain in probably the rainiest season of the year. Panic.
So the plan is to buy a new rainjacket (I have tracked down Marmot retailers in London) this afternoon.
And soon, everything will be all better. For now, I will have to