Runaround day..

I have finally gotten the stuff done that I needed to get my long term visa. I needed an HIV test, a letter from the embassy saying it was OK for me to be here, I had to set up a bank account, and get a fistfull of pictures. Turns out the biggest hassle was at the bank.

The place was nuts, people milling and shouting all over the place. Turns out that Yemenis stand in line as well as they drive… Today was the first day that I have been short with a local, I didn’t know the Arabic words for “HEY! There’s a line!” but he got my point. The amount of cash floating around was impressive, I felt like I was behind the scenes at a casino. Part of the reason for all of the cash was the deflated value of the currency, just about anything will run you a 1000 riyals, and that’s for something cheap. Big ticket items require (literally) bags of cash. That is still what amazes me, this is a strictly cash economy, if you want to buy something, you pay cash. I was a little worried when I first got here about someone taking my credit cards. Now I realize that they can’t do a damn thing with them here. You can’t even buy a plane ticket with a credit card, it’s cash all the way.

One unexpected question on the application was what religion I am. I wonder if they have both interest bearing and non interest bearing accounts. Usury is forbidden in Islam, one of the many reasons I suspect this part of the world is so underdeveloped…

I was pretty excited to get a local account, I figured I would have much lower ATM fees. Well it turns out that I can’t transfer money directly from my savings account in the US and this bank here. SIGH, I guess I’ll keep getting eaten alive with fees…


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