When the following incidents happened, our first thought was: this is going on the blog!
So, at the risk of alarming my entire family back home, I will share…
When Olia was worried about ways to get money in Ukraine, I thought she was exaggerating and making a big deal out of nothing. I should have trusted her.
I will try to make a very long story short: our first ATM card was swallowed by the machine. Our second one was not yet activated. After spending hours on the phone with Bank of America, the customer service representative swore the card had been activated, and the employees at the Ukrainian National Bank swore that they couldn’t take money out of it. My personal checking card wouldn’t work with them either. Great!
Imagine getting a major grant from a foundation and not being able to access that money when you need it…
We had lunch with our last 100 hryvnias (20 bucks), we were left with 50 kopioks (equivalent of a few cents) and decided to stop wasting time on this issue and head on the road, looking for the house of one of our characters. The making of this film is becoming more interesting than the film itself. We stopped on the road, as the journey takes about two hours and we had ice cream with our last 50 kopioks.
As we get to the town, I am courted by a 60-something year old man with silver front teeth (see picture); we are led to the house of a man who was supposed to know something about our character only to find him laying on his death bed (literally); we meet his lamenting wife who turns out to be a drug addict; etc… We basically went from house to house looking for any lead on our story and every time we found ourselves in the middle of situations more absurd than we could dream of.
On the way back after a very very very long day, our driver lent us his phone and our cameraman bought us beer. Ukrainians might not have a very efficient banking service but at least they’re gentlemen!
Note: the ATM card worked today. We are not starving anymore.