Going to the store used to involve making sure I had my wallet, my driver's license, and my debit card. Now I deal in cash. But the cash here looks nothing like the greenbacks of home. The bills, or Riyals as they are called, are all various sizes and colors. There is a camel and some gazzelles on the QR5 and birds on the QR1. There is also a sparkly line of silver going through the bills on one side. And then there is the exchange rate. Even when I have QR1500 in my wallet I only have about $410. When I look in my purse for cash, I feel loaded and ready for action, but then the cashier at the grocery store asks for QR732 for the cart full of food I just bought, and there is a significant deflation in my wallet size and my spending frenzy. When I tip the petrol attendant QR3 for pumping my gas in the hot sun, it is only about 82 cents. Unfortunately, to those hard working men that is a good tip, because tipping is unusual here.
Another bit of info about the banks here: We just bought a Nissan Xterra, and instead of just setting up a direct payment plan from our account, the bank printed up post dated checks to give to the Nissan dealership. I guess that is their version of an automatic payment plan. Each check is worth six months of payments, and we get the checks back after they go through. Weird, huh! Well, I guess it will take some time for my mind to refigure the budget in riyals, so actually Brett is working hard on that right now. I will only be the assistant to the master budgeter of this family because my math skills have never been as strong as my word skills. Brett might get tired of exchanging riyals to dollars as he sits at the computer, but that is the time I can remind him of all those times I exchange his grunts and puzzled expressions for actual language and communication so I, as well as others, can understand him. I think we are a good team.