I’ve been neglecting this blog and it’s bothering me. Sean and I have both been busy. And they days we aren’t busy we spend catching up on Netflix, cooking, sleeping, and making sure an adorable 12-week-old puppy doesn’t pee on the floor.
One thing keeping me busy last week was the Women’s Business Forum and Entrepreneurship Expo organized by my friend Esther. The event was a great success. She brought together women artisans from around the country for a day of learning and celebration of their crafts. I was a volunteer for the event, and it was fun to see all her hard work unfold.
I also wanted to be there so badly for the expo.
Handicrafts from around Tajikistan made by women. SIGN ME UP.
However, Friday was the perfect example of one of my chief frustrations living in Tajikistan: a largely cash only economy.
Now before you hit me with some hashtag like #firstworldproblems let me explain how frustrating it can be to operate only on paper bills. We are paid direct deposit which is simple and easy in places with safe and reliable and AVAILABLE credit/debit card machines.
Here, we have to write ourselves a check or pull cash out from an ATM. There are only three ATMs I’m comfortable using. One is at the Embassy so not too annoying or out of the way but I’m still not a fan of carrying around a ton of cash.
The real frustration is that what you have is what you have and that’s it. Tajikistan just isn’t set up for credit or debit cards. I brought a good deal of Somoni to the expo but quickly realized it wasn’t enough.
I wasn’t alone either. Just about all of us ran out of money. And of course, no ATMs in sight.