California: the Sojourn Begins

July 28, 2013

Posted by Kanga.

After a 15 hour non-stop flight, we are safely in California. After much sleeping to recuperate and adjust to the new time zone, We headed out to do a few errands.

Unfortunately, we didn’t think to exchange our currency before leaving the airport. In the UAE, changing currency is not a problem as there are currency exchanges on nearly every street and rates are reasonable. In the States, there are few currency exchanges outside the airport and if you go to a bank to exchange currency, they will expect you to have a bank account with them. We ended up going to the nearest airport and trying there. As non-passengers, we had access to only one exchange kiosk. The rate they offered was outrageous. For the equivalent of $700, they were offering us $500. We weren’t willing to lose $200 that way. So, off we went to find another option, a currency exchange kiosk in a shopping mall. This time we got $600, so had to take it even though that’s not a good rate either, but we were over a barrel, so to speak. Lesson learned, always exchange currency before leaving the UAE airport.

Next errand was to get USA phone sim cards which are necessary because there is no roaming service for Etisalat or Du here. This was easier than our currency experience.

By then we were very hungry and went in search of a neighborhood taqueria. We landed at El Papucho and had enormous burritos. It was a quaint family business, half restaurant and half grocery store.

By then our afternoon was shot and we headed home to pick up DaddyBird’s parents and head to the Los Gatos Shakespeare Festival performance of Hamlet, starring family members as Laertes and Ophelia. The performance was wonderful. Audience members were laughing and crying at all the right places.

For pictures, click here.


  1. I discovered the best option is to just withdraw from the ATM instead. Don’t know if this would work in US but it has everywhere else for me.

    • I meant from the local ATM

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