Ask any backpacker about what drives them crazy about traveling in developing countries and they’ll probably talk about either bad toilets or…lack of change. Despite going through the change hoarding routine a hundred times now, I still find it exasperating. If you pay rent on a store and have it stocked with hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, can’t you manage to keep some extra change on hand?
Apparently not. I am now in Acapulco, Mexico and just tried to buy a water bottle so I could use my SteriPen Traveler instead of buying bottled water for a week and adding to the litter. The price was 30 pesos, a tad under $3. I gave her 50 pesos, less than $5. “Tiene cambio?” she asked. Huh? If I were handing her a huge bill, okay I get it. But she can’t handle 20 pesos change on 50? No, she opened up the register drawer and there were exactly two bills in there: another 50 and a 100. So unless someone hits it just right, no go.
She shrugged, I left. Sale lost. I still don’t get it.