Article from the series: Staying Safe and Healthy in Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo
70 mm, f5.0, 1/160s, ISO800
When I first started travelling, traveller’s cheques were still a thing (though I don’t think I ever made much use of them). So was bringing cash — usually USD back in those days — to be turned into local currency at dodgy foreign exchange counters, or expensive hotels. I remember having a debit card when I went to Mexico back in ‘02, but it really wasn’t much good as it only worked in a small number of ATMs.
Fast forward to today, and I rarely even bring dollars for anything other than emergency backup. ATMs are everywhere, including in small towns in the Gorilla Highlands, and a Visa or MasterCard feels a lot safer to travel with than a wad of cash (just don’t bother bringing an Amex or something even more obscure, like a Diners Express).
I will also freely confess that long gone are the days when I kept my cash in a money belt, perhaps because I now carry so much valuable camera equipment that it feels silly to not trust a wallet. Having said that, I rarely keep it in a pocket I can’t close with a zip or a button, and more often in a shoulder bag I always see or feel. The best way to keep people honest, after all, is to minimize their opportunities for dishonesty.
Not wanting to bore you with a photo of an ATM, here is an example of bangles that came Indian Ocean coast with the Arabs, and used to pass as local currency in our region — featured in the hands of the one and only (and unfortunately late) Mr Festo Karwemera in his Bakiga museum in Kabale.