Thursday, 12 July 2012

Change we can believe in

OK, so this post is totally just a spurious excuse to use the title...

One of the daily chores of living in Dakar is trying to get hold of change. CFA, the currency, comes in denominations of 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, and 1,000, with coins for 500, 250, 200, 100, 50, 25, and 10. The 10s are basically useless though. Mostly you see 100, 200 and 500 coins.

The trouble is, that when you go to the bank the money generally comes in 10,000s, but no-one will take them except supermarkets and restaurants. Sometimes the fruit stands and small shops will take fives, and very occasionally taxis. But mostly you need twos and ones, and sometimes they won't even change those. It's annoying, because it occasionally makes it impossible to buy things like milk or peanuts or a mango that come in small quantities and don't cost very much. Which is annoying.

It means that when you do have change, you hoard it. Or when you go somewhere that will accept tens, you pay with them and swear blind that you don't have anything smaller. In taxis it sometimes leads to games of chicken, where you say you only have a two, and they swear they don't have coins. Eventually either you crack, and give them 500 and they put it in pocket of coins, or they crack and you drop it in your handbag to clink against the others.

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