For those of you who have previously followed the worldly adventures of Sarah and Ted Martens, I apologize for the repeat in blogging subject. Then again, after two months of being subjected to this infamous issue, I feel I can't avoid talking about South America without referring to a topic that dominates life on the tourist front: Cambio (i.e change).
In every country visited thus far, there is one aspect of South American life that is treated as an unimaginable plague, struck upon every poor traveler who is subjected to it's doom: The Unchangable Bill. Throughout every country visited thus far, there is no greater epidemic than a lack of change for "large bills." With the average ATM inexplicably providing bills worth anywhere from $15-25, the only chance visitors have of relieving themselves of these large amounts of currency is to hope they are stolen from their pockets, as no storekeepers, bus stations or even restaurants will willingly accept these large domination's of money. Most would rather actually DENY your business than be forced to give out what little small-denomination bills they have remaining. Thus, travelers are forced to hoard as many small bills and coins as possible, as these are looked upon as MORE valuable than their greater value counterparts. Smart, smart, smart, smart, smart.
Favorite Change-Related Expression - When presenting a 100 sole note ($35) to a storekeeper for a $3 item, I was looked at as if I had just murdered her first born. I am quite sure a few scoffs were also released after my departure.
Favorite Change-Related Experience - When attempting to purchase a 1 sole postcard with a 10 sole bill ($3.50) -- which happens to be the SMALLEST note available in Peru -- I was refused purchase. When attempting to pay with 95 cents which I managed to scrounge together, I was still refused. You don't climb out of the 3rd world bucket by refusing money South America.
Favorite ATM Experience - Withdrawing $200 and being provided with forty $5 bills. It was amazing. I would have hugged the ATM if it hadn't possessed the distinct smell of fresh urine on it's side.
Next Week`s Topic: Long-Distance Bus Rides - An In-Depth View (Previously skipped, although soon to be re-birthed)