Thursday 26th February – 3 months, 10 days
One dollar notes are at a high premium in Timor. This is not because I am giving away all of my spare change to cute kids on my street (although let me tell you, they try). No, this is because everyone expects you to have exact change.
In some cases, I figure it’s reasonable: for example, at the food markets, where you might buy a bag of lemons for 50c or a really big bag of eggplants for $2 or something. However if you want to catch a taxi, standard fare is between $1 - $3, and taxi drivers just do not carry change. So you need a constant supply of $1 notes for this.
However, I have also had the ‘do you have the exact amount? We don’t have change’ problem at the doctor’s and, of all places, at the damn post office. This, I find difficult. For example, I just tried to pay for $17 worth of postage with a $20 note, only to get rebuffed for change. I had to pay with a ten dollar note and *seven* one dollar notes – seven one dollar notes that I had been carefully saving so I could actually catch taxis around (prompted by the difficulties when I was sick and had very little small change because I hadn’t been out of the house buying things and getting change).
Next time I will stare the woman down, say ‘La iha’ (I don’t have it) and if she REALLY doesn’t have it, she can keep the three dollars.