Learning Uruguay

Every day brings ????

Small bills

Posted by urufish on January 23, 2009


We’ve been here just over 3 years and I still haven’t figured out why I’m always running out of small bills. 

We’ve tried several strategies to keep ahead of not having enough small bills to pay for something.  We would go to Macdonalds and use $1000 bills for food.  We would pay with $1000 bills at the Costa Azul across the street but they got wise to use a few weeks into the program and said sorry, they had no change but they’d be happy to take our credit card.   Not what we wanted to hear. 

Last year, at the beginning of the summer, we got a great idea.  Every weekend we’d go to Piriapolis and we’d pay the tolls with $1000 bills.  By the end of the fall, we had oodles of small bills.  We thought they’d last forever.  But alas, we used up our supply last week. 

Today, it finally came to me what had to be done.  Do the same thing we used to do up north in retail.  Go to the bank and get stacks of small bills.  I must have avoided this early on in Uruguay because my Spanish wasn’t up to the task.  But today, I bit down, went into the bank and did my best to make myself understood.  Amazingly enough, my teller (I say ‘my’ because he knows for 3 years), just smiled, winked at me and produced stacks of small bills neatly wrapped in elastic bands. 

Problem is now solved.  Every time we run low, it’s off to the bank for change.

5 Responses to “Small bills”

  1. P Riehl said

    I do the same in Mexico. Unless I need a fairly large chunk of money, in which case they never have large bills and I end up walking out of the bank with a bulging pocketful of bills…

  2. urufish said

    Hahah.. fortunately, that’s never been an issue in Uruguay. If you know the right people, you can even piles of 2K peso notes.
    Philosophically speaking, the US has to take credit for the disappearance of large bank notes over the years.
    At my age, and with my socio-economic background, the biggest Canadian bill I ever saw was $1000 bucks. Those were withdrawn from circulation as were the $500 notes. This really discouraged folks from keeing money under their mattress (or in jars in the backyard).

    The banks say it’s because of US money-laundering laws. I hope the $100 bill stays in circulation. The UYU2K note here is the equivalent.

  3. Sara said

    It’s because there is a strange scarcity of change in South America. I don’t know how it happens but I like to think there is a black hole and sucks it all up after the shop keepers put it in the till every day.

  4. Valeria said

    Really nice you made yourself understood! =)
    Congrats! =P

  5. Chrystal said

    I love when you try to pay with a $1000 UY peso bill and they look at you as if you were crazy. The worst is when you go to the cajero (ATM) and it spits out a $2000 bill. No one wants to take those. We usually use them at the supermarket (Disco/Devoto) when we end up with one because we know they’ll have change even if they make a fuss about it.

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