Yesterday, after I finished resolving some Visa issues, I went out to eat at a neat little deli in downtown Harare. It was kind of like going to Market District and eating in their deli, if that gives you a sense of the setup. Much to everyones dismay, they were out of Sadza. You would not believe how big of an inconvenience everyone perceives this as. Imagine going to McDonalds and being told they are out of Coke, Big Macs and fries. That is what a deli without Sadza is like in Zimbabwe. So I reconsidered my meal and order macaroni and pork. The whole meal came out to $6.78 (which is $4 more than it would have been if I had ordered Sadza). I stand in line for honestly 20 minutes and pay with a ten.
Im going to back up a little bit. As of a couple years ago, Zimbabwe was using the Zimbabwean dollar, which was experiencing what economists call hyper-inflation. Hyper-inflation is the Dr. Doom of economic problems in a world without superheros. In the morning bread could cost $2. And hour later, $3, by night, $10. We scream at the thought of inflation in the double digits. Zimbabwe maxed out at 6,500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000% inflation. Inflation so big that I couldn't type it without my blog autochanging my font size.
To deal with it, the Zimbabwean treasury had the great idea of just printing bills in larger and larger denominations. The largest bill I have is for ten trillion Zimbabwean dollars. Great idea, right? Anyways, sometime in 2009, they realized that their strategy was not actually dealing with the problem, so they abandoned the Zimbabwean dollar and started using US dollars and South African Rands.
So, back to the story, I walk up to the cashier and pay with a ten. For change, I get 3 dollars, an apple and a lollipop. Apparently, Zimbabwe does not believe in coins. So, when you are owed changed, they start adding things to your purchase to make it a round number. If they owe you 50 cents, you may get an apple. A couple cents, you get a lollipop.
To tell you the truth, I like this. Imagine if every time you would normally get a couple cents of change, you get a lollipop instead. Much better. But still really weird. Everytime you buy something, it involves a little negotiating. Maybe trading the apple and lollipop for a coke, or trying to get an extra piece of candy. it is truly a strange experience.
Well, Walter is here to take over for me, so I am going to go eat. Thanks for reading,