Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?


This blog entry about the events of Monday, April 12, 2004 was originally posted on April 15, 2004.

DAY 177:  Exchange rates are a funny thing for the US Dollar.  Unless you are transferring money into British pounds — after of which the Brits will make fun of you for “how embarrassingly low the dollar is these days” — exchanging good ol’ American greenbacks into other currencies can be a somewhat gratifying experience, particularly in a country like Zambia.  With the rate of $1 USD = ZK4765, for just about $210, yes you too can be a millionaire!  (Please don’t share this secret with Publishers’ Clearing House.)

THE FIVE-DAY EASTER WEEKEND WAS FINALLY OVER and by 7:45 a.m. the banks in town were finally open with teller service — good news for Zambian trying to make their usual transactions, and even better news for tourists with Mastercard-based ATM cards that had been stuck all weekend with little to no cash.

After waiting on line about ten minutes, I had a teller at the local Barclay’s Bank charge $300 USD off my Mastercard credit card, so that I could get cash for it in the local Zambian kwacha.  After waiting about an hour for telephone approvals, I finally got the local currency in cash in a nice wad that looked like Monopoly money with animals on it (picture above).  Total amount:  ZK1,420,500.

I was suddenly a millionaire.

MY FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS with my new financial status was paying off old debts.  I walked over to Fawlty Towers Backpackers to pay my ZK11,000 debt off to Juliana for paying my transports from the border to Livingstone.  (I left a note for her the day I left her that I’d pay her when the banks opened.)  However, when I asked for her in reception, the guy said she had already left the day before with her friends.

Oh well, I thought.  She must not have cared too much about the payback because she was probably a millionaire too.  And really, what’s a measly 11,000?

I went on my way and finally got some internet time in since I finally had some cash to pay for it.  After that I skipped the Jolly Boys’ “budget breakfast” and splurged at a place called the Insomnia Club, just off the main strip.  Despite having the name that implies coffee shop, it was a nightclub/lounge; people were mopping up from the night before.  The barman served me an egg breakfast though and I ate it while watching an MTV video marathon of fellow millionaire P. Diddy.

FOR MOST OF THE DAY, this millionaire finished catching up on Blog duties on his Apple iBook, editing stories, sorting out photos.  Shelle and Deann came back from their safari in Botswana that morning, and Shelle was scolding herself for spending money on wooden sculptures that she really didn’t want — she couldn’t resist a poor street vendor.

“I have money to pay you back now,” I told her.  “How much do I owe you?”

Shelle looked up in mid-thought, the way one does when doing math in one’s head.  The ballpark figure was around 70,000-80,000.

“How about I give you a hundred thousand?”

Her eyes lit up.  “Okay!”

I passed over two 50,000 kwacha notes.  Really, what’s 100,000 amongst friends?

SHELLE AND DEANN BROUGHT ME TO THE BUS TICKET OFFICE so I could get on the next morning bus to Lusaka with them, and after we walked down the main strip to the curio (souvenir) shops.  Shelle bought a ceramic hippo soap dish holder and Deann bought some homemade postcards from a kid on the street.  After a brief internet session — I discovered internet cafes, like most stores in Zambia, close at sundown — the three of us went to Ocean Basket, the South African seafood chain restaurant, a fairly upscale sort of place for the budget backpacker, unless of course, one of them is a millionaire.

Indecisive on what to get, I just got it all:  a seafood platter with a little bit of everything, all for just ZK75,000!  The staff must have caught the bling bling vibe off of us because when Deann asked to have cake and ice cream as a starter, they didn’t give the usual “Ha ha ha, that’s funny, but what do you really want?” — instead, they just gave her what she wanted as eccentric as it was.  In fact, not once, not twice, but four times they came over to ask the obligatory, “How is everything?”

THAT NIGHT BACK AT JOLLY BOYS, I paid off my lodging package with a measly ZK175,000.  When I looked over my remaining money, I realized that I had spent so much local currency that I was now under the million kwacha mark.  I was no longer a millionaire, but at least it was fun until it lasted.

Next entry: Acronyms and Flea Shampoo

Previous entry: Not-So Manic Monday

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Comments for “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”

  • Dude, Erik - You’re on a ROLL! Thanks for all the updates - I love them!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/14  at  05:33 PM

  • HEY ALL:  There you go… that’s all I have typed up for now.  More to come as they come, but please be patient if it’s not daily!

    Greetings from Lusaka, Zambia…  I’m staying at Shelle’s, in a house with a bunch of American HIV research volunteers; it’s sort of like a college house.  They have a satellite hi-speed internet connection, so you can thank them for the latest entries, and Shelle for inviting me!

    I’ll be here for a couple of days and then who knows from there? —I wasn’t even supposed to be here—although I’ll probably head for the Malawian border.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/14  at  05:39 PM

  • DUNLAVEY:  “The Universal Language of Beer” steins are now available on The Global Trip Pledge Drive!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/14  at  07:08 PM

  • The Trinidad Show; episode 177, “Back from the NIZ with Vengence” ... great job thanks for the blogs!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/14  at  07:14 PM

  • i could imagine FOX come up with “Who wants to Marry a Zambian Millionaire”.  anyway, cool pics on the other stories.  just got caught up.  just to let u know…the ghetto van has officially died on Good Fri.  (how ironic, “The Passion of the Ghettovan”)  Apparantly tito tommy was driving to work on the deegan expwy and the engine overheated.  To fix the van cost at least twice as much as what we got it for.  so i think we’re donating it to isod’s dad.  on a happier note, the acura might be comin back. that would def. be old school.  other than that.  same old.  peace.


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/14  at  08:38 PM

  • my condolences to the ghettovan. rest in peace.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/14  at  09:52 PM

  • too bad for the ghetto van…but what you did miss was francis wasted on wine at easter at his house!...

    too funny….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/14  at  10:17 PM

  • Waaaaz up, my friend Erik?

    I just spent 15 mins trying to figure out how to send you some moola and can’t remember how to get to the link.

    Can you set a link here for us diztzy brunettes?  Something that will take us right to it and make it unbelieveably easy to sent you cash.

    Glad to here things are going better, damn airlines & travel companies for ripping you off.  (Will figure out a way to pay them back!)

    Love the blog & keep up the good work!

    p.s. love the postcard from Cuzcos

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/14  at  11:51 PM

  • i’m slowly catching up, but thanks for the picture of the ass wink Monkey’s ARE funny! hope all is well - i would probablly know if i was up on my reading :(  that’s all for now! N smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/15  at  12:14 AM

  • Ok Erik, I sent you and email w/ my travel plans and some ?‘s to pick your brain about electronics gear… later!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/15  at  02:42 AM

  • SOCALGIRL:  The shortcut link to the pledge drive is:



    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/15  at  10:09 AM

  • I enjoyed your entries.  Say hi to my sista, Shelle, for me!


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/15  at  10:26 PM

  • STACIE:  Hey there, glad you enjoyed!  As I write this, Shelle’s asleep right now—she works on Saturdays—but I will pass your hello to her when I see her!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/15  at  11:41 PM

  • hah. laugh out loud on the ‘fellow’ millionaire p.diddy comment.

    keep it up!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/17  at  03:10 PM

  • WHEAT:  Long live the Ghetto Van; it served its country well, September 15, 2001.

    Posted by Erik  on  04/17  at  03:11 PM

  • eek! you’ve been ambushed by spammers!

    Thanks for catching up. I couldn’t wait for that week’s worth, then I got too busy to read. Oh well, no matter what workload gets tossed on my desk, the BLOG will always be there!

    Thanks again!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/20  at  11:59 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

Next entry:
Acronyms and Flea Shampoo

Previous entry:
Not-So Manic Monday


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