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Monday, June 23, 2008

A Day at the Bank and a Cell Phone

Today was a busy day to get some things underway. Beautiful and mostly sunny today- I set off to the bank to see if I could arrange for a wire transfer. When we opened the account last week (in Montevideo), it was explained that due to US regulations, any amount over $10K brought into the country had to have documentation to prove where it came from (sale of house, etc.). At the time, when we had our english speaking guide there to help us, I didn't have the paperwork. So today (on my own) I went down the local BROU branch to see if I could get the transfer approved. First thing I did was take a ticket. Oh have I forgotten to tell you about tickets in almost all the shops? Let me digress...

Almost every shop, bank, hardware store and everything else you can think of, has dispensers of numbered tickets, which you automatically take and wait for your turn. The other day at the hardware store I was the only customer. I went up to the cashier to ask a question. They politely pointed to the dispenser. Then they directed me back to a second person at the back of the store who helped me. Anyway another thing to get used to.

Back to the bank (ticket in hand). After a short wait I was directed to one of the desks. After establishing that we weren't going to be handling this transaction in english- I proceeded. Now here is what I "think" happened. I told the man I had sold a house and wished to transfer a certain amount of money from my bank in the U.S. I told him the woman who opened the account in Montevideo had asked for confirmation of the source of the money and presented him with the title company's closing statement. He said there was no problem and directed me to one of the windows. The teller thought I was prepared to make the transfer at that moment, but I explained I would do it online and just needed the routing numbers. She gave me a sheet of paper with the numbers and circled the ones I would need.

Now, that is how I think it went down. We'll see what happens when I actually try to make the transfer.

Then I needed a cell phone. Since I do not have a cedula (akin to social security card), I cannot get a cell phone on a plan, just buy the cell phone and pay for minutes, in advance. However, they issue you a cell phone number that you keep as long as you are have that phone. I got a little Samsung phone (nice little color screen and very nice) for $25.00 and then bought 77 minutes of time for $25.00. I can take up to 4 months to use the minutes, so they will not go to waste. Since I know hardly anyone in the country they will last a long time. But we will have a phone to use in an emergency. Actually did the transaction in German, since a visitor from Germany happen to be in the shop and translated my requests into spanish. Strange world.


Seamus said...

I was wondering if the Uruguayan banks have internet banking? Is it possible to just transfer funds from an account in a US institution, say Chas Schwab, to a Uruguayan checking or savings account?


Sorry about the earnest money questions. I don't know where, but somehow I got the idea that you were selling a house in Panama.??

Wally said...

Seamus- Most UY banks do internet banking (including bill pay). You can transfer from a US bank, but not directly. It is done by wire transfer and include all fee connected with that. You can also use a debit card to withdraw your maximum limit.

Seamus said...

That's the other thing I've heard people hint least in Argentina: Is it possible to use an ATM card to directly, while in Uruguay, spend money that is on deposit in a US bank? Does it work with ATM cards? Debit cards only? I don't even want to know if it works with a credit card. The fees must be enormous.

I read something about being able to use a CITI ATM without fees in Argentina.

(Sigh) I'd like to retire somewhere cheap and safe where the climate is very moderate. I'd leave today if I could. So far it looks like a year that's split between Montevideo, Buenos Aires, and Quito or Cuenca might do the trick. But (bigger sigh) I have to wait for family matters to resolve themselves. For now I can't even take a vacation. My mother needs constant care. In my imagination, blogs like yours are the best I can do.

Your blog is the kind of stuff I dream of finding and what I try to contribute to the net: Sharing things I've done, places I've been, in the hope it might keep someone from needing to reinvent the wheel. It's pretty beat up as I haven't been able to maintain the site but I wrote some tips on visiting Jamaica. This actually predates sites like Google's