Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How can you survive with no Bank in Pearl Lagoon?

Banpro - Bluefields
 For years we have been doing all our banking online - we very seldom had cash in our pockets in Canada. All our bills were setup to automatically come out of our accounts and we paid by debit card at practically every store - even if we ordered a pizza and had it delivered. We have had to make a lot of adjustments since we moved to Nicaragua - especially Pearl Lagoon.

Did you know that there is no bank in Pearl Lagoon? There are no ATMs or debit card machines either. Since Pearl Lagoon opperates on a cash basis where do we get our money? Each month we take a panga (small speed boat) to Bluefields and use the ATM at the Banpro Bank. We take enough out of our account to pay our rent and all of our monthly expenses (food, internet, lights, water, etc.) The Banpro will dispense both US dollars as well as Cordobas.

Where is the bank? If you are arriving by panga from Pearl Lagoon you will take a left at the first street. The bank is just a 1/2 block up on the right (across from the large Moravian church). There are two ATMs out in front in booths where you can privately make your transaction. There has been a security guard outside each time that we have visited the bank for added protection.

A few lessons we've learned:

  1. Before you leave home make sure you have your bank card with you! On our first trip to Bluefields neither of us brought our cards - it's a good thing that we had extra money with us so that we could get back to Pearl Lagoon and return another day. 
  2. Know or have access to your account number. I tried to take money out of the bank and my bank card wouldn't work. I had to call the bank in Canada and I needed my account number in order for them to help me. 
  3. If the ATM says "there is no cash available in the machine" don't assume that the bank is aware that the machine is empty. If the bank is open, go in and speak with one of the bank employees.

Are there other options for getting cash in Pearl Lagoon? Yes! Although we haven't used the service there is a Western Union in town. You will find it opposite the Municipal Wharf. Many travelers and residents find this an easy solution to get cash.

Western Union - Pearl Lagoon

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