good ol’ american kvetching

Possibly this is just more indication of my Americanness, but I try to be generally un-American when I travel and not take cultural differences as inferiorities.

But let’s face it, some things are just inferior. For example, all plumbing is inferior to American plumbing. You could flush a cat down an American toilet and probably not have as many problems as flushing toilet paper causes in other countries. Also, everywhere you go, there is free water, and in Tucson, at least, it is illegal to deny anybody water, even if they are wearing no shoes and no shirt. That is another wonderful thing.

But the real issue is cash. For one thing, Americans don’t generally carry cash, which can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. But when we need cash, we can get it from an ATM. So can people in Israel, Uruguay, the Czech Republic, and I’m sure in most other places. But in the US, when you want cash, you get it in twenties. $20, $60, $100, $1000. It doesn’t matter; it will come in twenties, because any place you go will have change for a twenty.

International exchange rates are most to your benefit when you use an ATM, not a cash exchange place, and it’s best to withdraw a significant amount of money at a time. I like getting $100 worth of local currency; it means I won’t need to go back for awhile, but it also means that if I get robbed, it’s not the end of the world. But in Prague, and in Montevideo, that adds up to around 2000 crowns/pesos. So when I withdraw that, I get it in a 2000-crown bill. That’s fucking stupid. Everyone hates someone who wants to buy a sandwich with a 2000-crown bill, but what choice do I have? I have to eat. I just don’t understand a country that refuses to have enough change but also refuses to provide useful bills in their ATMs. It is absolutely infuriating.


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