Living in a cash only society we are very familiar with the money here. The problem we run into frequently is that we don’t have exact change, not only do we not have exact change normally we only have a 10 000 ($20) cfa note and we need to purchase something for 300 cfa, like bananas. Well the banana salesman probably only sells 3000 cfa worth of bananas all day and I guarantee he does not start the day with a register full of change or even a register. He keeps the money he makes under the tray that he has his bananas on. Normally unless you have small change you will not be able to make some of these purchases from the smaller vendor.
What happens when you go out to a sit down restaurant where they give you the bill after you eat your lunch and you give them 10 000 to pay for the 4400 bill?
First they look at you with a look of great sadness because now they are going to have to find change for you. This process can sometimes be a labor intensive process for the restaurant, first they go to their neighboring stores and try and break the bill, then once they have 2 5000 cfa notes then need to break one of them down smaller. Many vendors go up and down the street selling their goods and after waiting for 30 minutes there was finally a vendor who agreed to break one of her 5000’s. I couldn’t stop laughing when I realized who had the change for her. It was the used sock cart that goes up and down the street. Now she only had 6500 worth of smaller bills but she still didn’t have a 100 cfa coin to give us the rest of our change. We decided that she could keep the 100 cfa even though we were curious which cart going up the street would be willing to give her change.