So, here’s the tiny (microscopic) story of our money-changing “adventure”.
(I’ll just put the pro tip here: when you exchange money for Kenyan shillings at the airport in Nairobi, don’t assume you can always exchange more later. You can, but it’s a pretty big inconvenience. Go ahead and get all you’ll think you’ll need plus a little more at the airport.)
On the day we visited the first-year group, three of us realized we hadn’t taken into account the gratuities we’d be paying our drivers and hotel staff, and our plans for some end-of-the-trip shopping. So, we had to cut our visit with the working group short (which I think is sad, actually) and hightail it back to Maua in time to get into a bank (Barclays) by 4:00 pm. We just barely made it.
Once in, we got in line to wait for a teller. (While we were in line, I saw a poster advertising Barclays’s new low interest rate for home loans: 10%.) When we got to a teller, we asked to exchange $20 for Kenyan schillings.
Well. First they asked us for our passports. Then, it seemed like they didn’t exactly know what to do next (although they didn’t say that). So, they asked us to have a seat and wait. We did. And waited. And waited. And waited.
Meanwhile, the bank was closing.
At one point, a man walked over to us and said “I think I can say hello.” He was very friendly. It turns out that he was in church when we stood in front and introduced ourselves. So, he was literally just saying hello. It was very pleasant.
Eventually, we got our Kenyan shillings and our passports back, although the rest of our group, waiting back in the van, had begun to worry about us.