September 13, 2012

Istanbul. June, 2007

Money. It’s so interesting to me what happens to my thoughts about money when it’s no longer American money I’m dealing with. Changing to Turkish lira (YTL), as I did here at Istanbul's oldest book market, it’s almost as if I have play money, Monopoly money. When I crossed the Iron Curtain to visit Czechoslovakia in 1972, I encountered hard currency’s double standard for the first time. I was required to change so many US dollars for each day of my visit at government rates; but once inside the country, people were often asking me to change my dollars at a much more lucrative black-market standard. I’ve been in Italy when the lira-dollar exchange rate was great. But now with the euro, it’s not so great. In Cuba, there are two currencies, both called pesos and both indicated with the $ sign -- one for residents, one for tourists. Alas, no American bank-based business is available in Cuba. No using USA credit cards. And no relying on the current saving grace of tourists seeking good and easy exchanges elsewhere in the world -- the ATM.

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