Thursday, June 24, 2010

Using Peruvian Coins As A Way To Happiness

Today as on most days I visited the website for Living In Peru and they had an article called "Top 10 Signs You're A Foreigner Living In Peru." Number 6 on the list was about making sure you carry sencillo on you before you leave the house. Now, don't confuse that with any illicit drugs, it's simply Peruvian coins that are more commonly used than bills are. Peruvian currency is called the Nuevo Sol and the coins come in denominations of 1, 2 and 5 soles with smaller ones called centimos that are 1, 5, 10 and 50. There are banknotes of course but for the day to day purchases in Peru it's more practical to carry and use your sencillo.

When I read the article it made me remember how quickly I got used to using the coins 2 years ago on our vacation and once we returned to Tulsa how much I missed not being able to use them. Here in America a handful of change might get you a snack or a bottle of pop. Notice I said might. In Peru a handful of coins can buy you any number of things from a taxi ride to a movie ticket to various souvenirs to a nice meal. I personally used them for these and many more purchases although at first I will admit that I treated them like American coins and didn't give them much thought. I would leave them on the dresser as if they were of no use to me, that is of course until I realized just how valuable they could be.

Life goes much more smoothly when you use the sencillo. First, with large bills there is always the issue of verifying that they are not counterfeit and then making change for them. If you use large bills then you are sure to get a lot of dirty looks. Second, you can carry the coins in your pocket and not have to worry about carrying a wallet and having to open it for all to see how much money you do or don't have. Third, it's just really cool to buy something substantial with a few coins. I can't stress that enough. Fourth, well I think it lessons the chance of someone trying to steal your money from you but that is just my opinion, I have no proof of this.

I know it's strange to get nostalgic for using coins to make purchases but then again I have been described as not being very normal before in my life. Since coins in America have so little value (soon it will be no value at all it seems) it just felt nice to be able to dig into my pocket for a few coins to pay for things. It's just not the same in America. Perhaps it reminded me of a simpler time from my youth when things didn't cost as much money and all it took for you to feel rich was to have a few coins in your hand. All I know is now I have a desire to return to Peru so that I can once again carry sencillos in my pocket and be happy. That's not too much to ask is it?

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