Sunday, October 16, 2011

No Cambio

"No Cambio" is roughly translated into English as "no change". No change as in handing a Cunecano merchant currency and he/she has no change in the till.

I think all of you who read this blog know that Ecuador as well as Panama and El Salvador use the American Dollar as their currency.  Ecuador mints their coins but relies on available paper currency for circulation.  Cuenca also heavily uses the gold Sacajewa coins.

I have learned from experience to always carry gold coins, $5 and $10 bills because going to the local tiendas (stores) you have almost no chance of getting change of a $20 before noon.

One of the perks of living in Cuenca is that you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables from the local tiendas, food coop or from the campasino vendors on the street. My first score was 10 large madirinas(tangerines) for a $1. I've purchased fruit from this street vendor before and he always starts off with the "Gringo Price". I'm confident with my numbers and we quickly negotiated the right price.  The "right price" is also in different parts of town. I can get 15 tangerines for a $1 if I go the Fiere Libre Market but that's a bus ride away and very busy.

My next purchase was a 1/2 kilo of fresas (strawberries) for $1.50. The third purchase was a 1/2 kilo of freshly ground cafe (coffee) for $3.00. I gave the jefe (manager) a $5 bill and his reply was "no cambio". The woman next to me had made a purchase with a $10 bill and she had the same predicament. We waited for 5 minutes until the next customer came. In the interim she started talking to me in Spanish.  The usual conversation entails if I'm visiting or living in Cuenca? Do I like Cuenca? Where am I from? and am I renting or buying?  You always get a big smile from Cuencanos when you speak Spanish.

The video below is my walk into town and some of the interesting sites in front of my apartment building on the Yanuncay River.

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