This is where even more fun begins. The day started off well enough with a beautiful view at breakfast – see photos below. Breakfast was the usual West African fare of bread and jam and juice. Then, I waited to be picked up by our Senegal contact to go to the Air Emirates office to see about changing my ticket since I could no longer make my original flight.
Those that travel will get a kick out of the rest. When we got to the airline office they said they could not change my ticket since it was held by the travel agency I booked it with and had my ticket to India attached, which is on another airline. So my options were to contact the travel agency, it is Saturday in the U.S. and they are closed, or book a new ticket and worry about getting the refund later, since I can show my other flights were cancelled.
I opted for option B. The ticket came to $1180. However, in Senegal they don’t accept or use credit cards so I would have to pay for cash. Sure, I have that kind of money just laying around and carry that with me all the time – no problem!!
They suggested we go to a local travel agency and use a credit card with them. But, both agencies we tried wouldn’t accept credit cards either. We decided the best option would then be to go back to the hotel and book the exact same flights I needed online so I could use my credit card.
Should be simply right??? NOT! I attempted to book through the airline website twice and was declined just as many times. So I called my credit card company thinking that since I didn’t list Senegal on my travel notice that they may have blocked it. However, come to find out my card was frozen due to a $30 charge in Washington, D.C. two weeks ago! Apparently, the credit card company doesn’t realize that living in Southern Maryland means you will have charges in DC on occasion. I finally got this cleared up but my card was still being declined, the thought was I had exceeded the attempts on the website. So I went through a French website, with the translation help of my contact, and booked the same flight with success.
You would think the story ends there but you would be oh so wrong. After booking all of that I didn’t have a ticket number but did have my confirmation number. While waiting for this I decided to go see the famous statue here, which is said to be the tallest in the world if you included the hill – see photo below. It was pretty nice and I met some nice people in climbing the well over 100 steps to the top and the shops in front of it.
Once getting back to the hotel I logged into my email to check for the ticket information and instead found an email that stated that due to the company’s internal policies they couldn’t process my credit card and they would need a bank wire transfer instead. What the heck!!! I, of course, can just call up my bank, from Senegal, on a Saturday, and easily get a wire transfer processed before 5pm pacific time.
I was back to square one. I tried the airline website again and was denied by all my credit card companies. So I called them and spent 45 minutes on the phone, with a truly nice woman, to only find out that whenever Dakar is on the itinerary you can’t pay by credit card, even by phone, and even if you are from somewhere outside of Senegal. Makes total sense right???
Now what does a girl stranded in a foreign country without the use of credit cards do now?
I was extremely fortunate that in my U.S. phone I had the travel agency emergency phone number that is supposed to be used when I need to book an emergency flight home for a student. So I called this number and spent another 20 minutes explaining the situation to the nice woman and getting her to understand what I needed to do and that no I didn’t want to go to Lagos but wanted to go to Dubai so I could catch my connection. Eventually, after 45 minutes, on the phone she was able to rebook everything for me and I am scheduled to leave tomorrow, Sunday, and get to Sri Lanka a day late.
Suffice to say is that Senegal has not made me very happy. Although, the people I have met here have been super nice and accommodating as I attempt to get my point across without the ability to speak any of the local languages. I wish I would have known I was coming here and I would have learned more about it so I could know where I wanted to visit.
One other piece of information as I write this I am currently unable to post it as an actual blog since my blogging website is blocked in Senegal.
Senegal has no credit cards, causes websites to be blocked, and generates hours of frustration.
In the end, though I am back on track and on my way with the added benefit of being able to see a beautiful seaside city, even if parts of it smell horrible and are really dirty, and met several extremely nice people.
What is the point of all this you ask, other than allowing me to get everything off my chest? It is reminder to all travelers that being able to adapt and not panic is the key to any good traveler. Be like Gumby – bend but don’t break!