Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Counting the Pennies
The currency here is the Dirham (pronounced Dur-ham or Dirrim, depending on whether you are Arabic or European) - which is their Rand ... and the fil - which is their cent. However, the only coins you see are 1 Dirham, 50fils and 25fils - less than 25fils is just not worth the botheration, so they simply ignore it. If your groceries add up to xxxDirham and xxxfils, they will probably just round the fils to the nearest Dirham - so you win some, you lose some. You DO actually get 5 and 10fil pieces, but if you don't want to be walking around with a purse full of useless coins, you just leave them at the cashier. The few times we have tried to get rid of them by giving handfuls of them to taxi drivers or shopowners, our efforts have been met with a stream of incomprehensible (but definitely rude!) Arabic. So now, we avoid these coins like the plague!
Notes are very pretty colours and are worth 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 Dirham. Beware, however, notes above 100 Dirhams seem to self-destruct and somehow completely disappear out of my purse without me being aware of it!
At the moment, one Dirham costs two Rand - so when we see something that looks pretty cheap, we have to remember to double the price to get an idea of its real price - which is sometimes quite shocking and always depressing!!