I think the folks at MoneyGram, nice as they are, have too much experience with Nigerian bankers looking to give me $6,100,000 US as a favor. Certainly, when I tried to send money to Kenya, they were very nice when they said they didn't want the business.
The money was earmarked for Justin Lagat. He and I have become FB buddie over the last several months and has provided all sorts of help to me in getting ready for my trip. One dilemma that I hadn't fully resolved was transportation. The original plan was to make extensive use of matatus and taxis, depending on the length of the trip.
The drawback to that plan is the lack of flexibility. Justin contacted me about acting as my guide for about 30 days (it's 35 now) and providing the transportation. I had already made arrangements to stay at Justin's house in Kapkeringon Village for two weeks to get a feel for the region before I moved on to Iten. I took a couple of days to think it over and decided that I really like the idea of having Justin to assist me. For my family, it was a relief as they've been worrying. Actually, they still are, but a bit less understanding that I'll have someone close by to help.
So, Justin and I negotiated a fee that made sense for both of us and I went online to MoneyGram to send the funds. Set up the account at MoneyGram, hit the send button, and went about my day.
Thirty minutes later, MoneyGram declined the transaction. So I called. Apparently they are quite conscious of security issues and worried that I might be falling for a phishing scam. Fair enough. They told me that I could show up in person at one of their facilities.
No problem, as I quickly located three in Lewiston.
Turns out that you can't use a credit card, either - found that out when I arrived and filled out the paperwork. Tried a debit card and forgot that they have limits, so the poor young lady at the counter had to refund everything. It's amazing how comfortably I am using plastic in the place of paper money and how little I pay attention to the limitations.
I eventually went to the bank and withdrew the cash. The teller had the some look on her face that I imagined my mom had when I told her about my trip. A touch of humor with slightly stunned amazement conveys it nicely.
With cash in hand, I finally sent the funds to Justin. He confirmed that he had received them, so we are all set. This is one of those "I'm really glad it did it before I left" experiences since I planned on MoneyGram as my back up if I got low on cash. Now that I know what the process is, I can write up a cheat sheet for my sweetie.
With Justin as my guide, I'll have a tremendous amount of flexibility to travel and explore. From a book research standpoint, I have a knowledgeable man to direct my questions and who will know where to go to look for the answers. From a running standpoint, I can get away from the masses as Justin shows me some of the lesser known running routes.
And yes, I'll be posting from Kenya. Less than 100 days to wheel's up!