Freetown, Baby!

Bulk Access by jc2010sl
February 18, 2010, 8:04 am
Filed under: society | Tags: , ,

One of the most striking practical differences of living in Salone is the movement to a total cash economy. In the 3 weeks that I’ve been here, I’ve not seen a single place that takes card payment. Cash is most definitely king. This basically means that you need to leave the house armed with a hefty brick of cash if you don’t want to be caught out. Having practically run out of the US Dollars I brought with me (you can change these all over town for the local currency – the Leone) I made a trip to the bank in town.

At the back of the bank there is a sign that reads “Bulk Access – cash transfer”, where you can withdraw a maximum of 2 million leones (about £350). Counting to check you’ve not been short-changed is certainly advisable, and among the many slightly odd skills that I never thought I’d need – or frankly ever thought about at all – I’ve become a dab hand at counting money. (A future career as a bank teller beckons if it all goes wrong.) The other thing that struck me was just how safe I felt walking out of the bank with what is probably close to half the annual salary for a nurse in the provinces.