The banks are out of peso coins again.
The farmacia just handed me back the five peso coin that I had given them when the clerk asked if I had a peso for the bill. I saw that one side of her tray was filled with individually wrapped cough drops which are given when the change is one or two pesos.
I knew this peso shortgage was my fault since I had a jar of them at home.
I promised I would bring them back to the store.
So I went home, counted out an even hundred of the heavy, metal coins, worth 2.23 US cents each. Some of them are trading on ebay for as much as .99 US.
They are very large, probably the size of a US quarter if memory serves me, which it often does not. And perhaps like most metal coinage in the world today, it is most likely worth more by its metal content than it is as currency.
They would make a wonderful necklace, Holding one feels like finding sunken treasure. I usually make a practice of dropping them on the grass, under the huge sacred ficus trees,for the shoe shine boys, the drunks,the begger ladies.
Nevertheless, I had acquired a full jar.
I am mindful that I have a national reputation to preserve here. One of my dearest friends here has said more than once "The Americans are not like the Europeans. When an American says he will do something, he does it. With the Europeans, maybe yes, maybe no, maybe just another glass of wine."
So I felt a certain sense of national honor was at stake here so I did not stop to make lunch but went right to work, laundering the money.
First in "Acer" - detergent
Rinse.. ah..the dirty water...!!
Then in "Cloro" -
Ah... the sparkling coins.....!
Then dried on a dish towel.
Then placed in one of my rewashed zip lock bags, on its last legs.
On the way to the Farmacia, I thought what to do with the $2,20, which was, after all, completely "found" money. It is the exact price of the Plato del Dia, a mound of rice and beans, a side of fresh cole slaw, two small pieces of chicken in a delicious sauce, far more nourishing than any Happy Meal.
There were two of the regular "shoe shine" boys on the corner but they looked very well nourished playing under the tree with the remnants of a take out container so someone had already given them lunch.
Then, just on cue, arrived Manolito, who is our resident homeless wanderer, Although he could probably qualify for some sort of diagnosis, and sometimes does get drunk and obnoxious on holidays, ussally he only approaches and states that he is hungry. Folks who are not from the neighborhood are afraid of him but none of us are. He will walk alongside me, ask about my dog, ask how my friends from Las Terrenas are.
Reminds me that he has not eaten today.
I squeezed the bag of washed pesos in my hand.
At the Farmacia, the laundered pesos were greated as a belated Christmas gift. One can only imagine.. those one and two pesos.. over the course of a day for a business, ..that adds up....
And.. well.. imagine.. the Gringa had.. WASHED them..
After all, I said, you are a Farmacia.. you cannot be passing out dirty money.
When I lived in Haiti,many years ago, the linen gourdes that I got for change in the market place in St Marc were so dirty that I often could not discern the denomination. I would always take them home and wash them.
I did the same for the pesos that were in circulation in Las Terrenas, from the fruit and veggie stands.
I guess I have been laundering money for a long time.
So - national reputation upheld My word is my bond.
money laundered and in circulation
Street wanderer given lunch
life purpose fulfilled for the
God is good