This morning I headed up to Maxixe to go to the Bank of Mozambique to get the authorization form needed to make an international money transfer. The guy at the bank was very nice and helpful, but as he explained the entire process, I could almost literally feel my heart sinking lower and lower. In addition to the very long and detailed form to request authorization, I would have to write a letter and submit it to the Ministry of Finances, along with the invoice from the lodge. If they approved it, then more paperwork would have to be filled out and we would have to pay a tax on the amount being transferred. And the helpful gentleman told me the process would take 15 days, which here in Mozambique means that it would take a month or two. So with a sinking heart I went back outside and weighed my options. I contacted the lodge again and explained the situation to them and thankfully they said I could make the transfer to a bank account here in Mozambique, avoiding that entire headache. So I caught the boat across the bay to Inhambane where I went to an internet café (and the internet was working today, thank goodness. The only other two times I have gone to that place it hasn’t been) to type up a new transfer request and print it. But I am getting smarter, this time I printed double copies of two different transfer forms—one with the amount in Rand and one with the same amount in Metical, just in case.
Afterwards I went to the bank. I have become sort of a permanent fixture at the Barclays bank in Inhambane, kind of like when I was a little kid and basically lived at the ice rink. One of the ladies calls me daughter or sweetheart, and they all greet me by name and with a smile. I explained that I needed to cancel the transfer request from yesterday and instead make this new one I had typed. I asked the lady if it mattered if I did the transfer in Rand or Metical, was one easier? She told me that they were equally easy, but that a Rand transfer in Mozambique has an amount limit (which mine exceeded), so it would be better to do the transfer in Metical. Thank goodness I printed both!
And throughout this whole process, I think everyone I have dealt with has been really confused by who I am and what I am doing, because I speak English and Portuguese, I am not South African, I am not Mozambican, and I am doing business with a lodge that is here in Mozambique, but they are operated out of South Africa. I think the woman from the lodge couldn’t understand why I was having such a difficult time transferring to a South African account—because our email exchanges were in English, she must have assumed I was South African (as basically all of their clients are). The man at Bank of Mozambique couldn’t understand why someone who lived here in Mozambique needed to make a transfer to South Africa for a venue that is here in Mozambique. And the woman at the bank was confused that my passport is from America, but the bank we wanted to transfer to is in South Africa.
Last night I was feeling incredibly stressed, thinking about all the things I needed to do and not having gotten enough sleep. So I did the last thing I wanted to do, and the thing I knew would help the most. I shut down my computer and ate a slow dinner with the sisters and then went by the dorm and spent 30 minutes tucking the girls in for sleep. And it was so nice. I got to talk to Irmã Agnes, the director of the primary school, and she was telling me how impressed she was by Marica, my 12th grade REDES girl who is starting her own group in the primary school, and how important she thinks the concept of REDES is. And I got to spend time talking to Irmã Albertina, my director, who recounted funny stories from her childhood, including the time her sister tricked her into eating caterpillar.