One Raindrop Raises The Sea
Day 019 – August 10, 2011
I will write about this later, but I am becoming a convert to the coin society that exists down here in Peru. The Peruvian currency, the nuevo sol, has bills whose lowest denomination is the ten. Below that value, the five , the two, and the one nuevo sol are only represented by coins. The nuevo sol is subdivided into 100 units called centimos, much like the United States dollar is subdivided into cents.
Centimo coins come in values of fifty (cincuenta), twenty (veinte), ten (diez), five (cinco), and one (uno). Below is a scan of the one centimo coin, which is about the size of a pinky fingernail.
Because the one centimo coin is not often used (and is quite small), merchants and restaurants round up or down all their items to the nearest five. It is rare, when not in the grocery store, to have to pay a bill that does not end in either S/. X.x5 or S/. X.x0.
The exception here is the grocery store where some items, especially those found in the fruit and vegetable aisles, wind up costing a total ending in all manner of digits.
When checking out of the grocery store, if the last digit of the final tally ends in 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, the store will round down. For example, (and for those of you who don’t recall your elementary school math) a figure of S/. 45.43 will be rounded down to S/. 45.40. This means a tiny savings has been passed on to me, lucky shopper that I am.
When the last digit of the bill ends 6, 7, 8, or 9, the store will round up the final total to the nearest tens digit. This means I need to pay the extra centimos, but I don’t feel too bad about this because the store doesn’t take the extra money into its own coffers. Instead, when the total is rounded up, I am asked if I would like to donate the one to four centimos to a local children’s charity.
“Quiere Ud. donar?” (Would you like to donate?) I am asked at the checkout and I always answer “Si”.
At the most, it’s only four centimos, but as the saying goes, every little bit helps.