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#2296: Black Defends Himself Re: ATMs (fwd)

From: Black, Patricia <Patricia.Black@pge-corp.com>

>From John Black:

I received helpful responses to my request for information about the
availability of ATMs in Haiti.  However, I was also chided by a couple of
people for daring to ask the question.  After setting those posts aside for
awhile, I am still feeling a need to respond to those who said they found it
"amusing what people feel they must have in another nation".  

They seemed to be making two wrong assumptions:  1) that I "needed" an ATM
and, 2) I neither know nor appreciate the sort of "adventure" one finds on a
trip to Haiti.

Quite to contrary.  I have traveled to Haiti frequently and extensively,
over the past 20 years, as I suspect most list members have.  I certainly
know how to make my way without ATMs and the other conventions and
conveniences of home.  In fact, the contrast between Haiti and home is a
principle reason for my travel there, including the many wild goose chases
and "adventures" I've enjoyed over the years.  The point of my question was
not to avoid travel but to reduce (if possible) the risk of making myself a
target by carrying large amounts of cash.  I don't care to suffer the fate
of the French man in Jacmel.  Even merely being robbed is an "adventure" I
don't need.

I like to buy art, often directly from the artist, or from vendors who
aren't able to accept credit cards.  Also, I find in Haiti "cash is king"
when wanting to strike a deal.  Don't you agree, rather than drive from Port
au Prince to Cap Haitien with several thousand dollars it would make better
sense to use an ATM on arrival there.

By the way, to the person who scoffed at the very notion of ATMs in Haiti
being as ridiculous as the existence of rape crisis centers -- and for the
benefit of other list members planning a trip -- the consensus seems to be:
several Sogebank ATMs exist throughout Haiti which allow cash advances from
VISA credit (and debit?) cards but that, unfortunately, they are not
connected to the  North America network (only to Sogebank) so, local
currency withdrawals from off-shore checking accounts are not possible. 

Too bad.  I'm sure experience all over the world shows that where it's
easier to spend money, people spend more.  I think well-heeled adventure
tourists spending more cash freely in Haiti would be a good thing.  Yes,
there are travelers checks and wire transfers and they are often only
slightly inconvenient (although I once spent the better part of a day in the
Central Bank getting gourdes.)  And, no, I don't want to see any part of
Haiti turned into south Florida, as the cruise ship companies would like.
But, neither will I apologize for wishing it could be easier, cheaper, and
safer to bring money into Haiti and leave it there.

John Black