Ten minutes before my driver was due to arrive to take me to the children’s home, I discovered I had no money to pay him, or for bus fare for the return journey.
It’s not that I didn’t have money. It’s that I didn’t have the right kind of money: small bills, and an assortment of coins. Instead, my wallet was stuffed with bank notes in large denominations.
In Mexico, cash is king. You need it to pay for goods and services, except at the few places where credit and debit cards are accepted.
Need a haircut or a taxi or a bottle of water? Then you need cash.
It’s foolish to go anywhere in the country without a wallet full of 20-peso notes and a pocket bulging with coins.
And don’t even bother to ask for change, except at banks or large department stores. The little mom-and-pop tiendas, where you can pick up everything from mangos to toilet paper, never seem to have change for anything larger than a 100-peso note—if you’re lucky.
Fortunately, my neighbor across the hallway had change for a 50-peso note, and I went to and from the children’s home—first by car, and then by bus—with no trouble.
But tomorrow, I’ll have to get change at the bank for several 500-peso notes. Otherwise, I won’t be going anywhere Monday.
in a rusted bus
a family of field mice
Text and photo © 2016 by Mark M. Redfearn, all rights reserved