Living in Peru, one of the changes that I had to adjust to was the new money. The Peruvan SOL is the currency that is used here. However, American Dollars are also used to purchase large things such as automobiles or property. I am able to withdrawal American Dollars from ATM's in Peru, then I have to change my dollars into SOLES. A year ago, the exchange rate was 3.2 to 1. For every dollar, I would recieve $3.20 in Peruvan currency. Due to the decline of the Dollar, the current rate is 2.9 to 1. That is a 10% decrease in spending power! While living in the States I did not care about exchange rates but living in Peru, I pay very close attention to it.
Another interesting thing that I have had to deal with is false bills and coins. It seems as though with every purchase, cashiers are holding bills up to the light or closely examining coins to check for authenticity. They other day I was paying my taxi fare and the driver gave me a coin back claiming it was not authentic. I have posted the picture here, can you guess which of the three coins is false? Look closely. I'll let you know at the end of this post.
I have also had to get used to using coins. 1, 2, and 5 SOL coins are very popular. Interestingly enough, all prices are rounded to the nearest 10 cent amount so the 1 and 5 cent pieces are never used except at the Airport. Yes that is right, the $18.52 airport tax is not rounded up or down. Thus every time you fly you get 3 pennies. There is a missionary working with SAM that is collecting those pennies and hopes to one day pay the full tax in pennies!
Speaking of flying, my favorite bill here is the $10. It has a picture of a famous Peruvian aviator on one side and on the other side, his biplane flying inverted over the country side! So did you guess the correct coin? It is the middle one, there are a few things that give it away. The quality and thickness of the writing "UN Nuevo SOL" are not the same as the other two. The false coin also does not have the 5 dots above the word "UN".