Tunisian zeroes

Having lived through the hyperinflation years in Zimbabwe, you would be forgiven for assuming that I'd be inured to biggish numbers. Not so. Tunisians have the unusual practice of adding an extra zero to the decimals following their numbers. So 127.000 Dinar is actually 127.00 Dinar in the Zimbabwean numbering system - not 1,270.

la Médina de TunisAfter spending a few hours and most of my Dinar shopping in la Médina de Tunis - a very large labyrinth-like market - I caught a taxi back to my hotel. Since I'm not a seasoned taxi user, to begin with I was easy to scam. Instead of insisting the drivers use their taxi meters I often found myself agreeing to fares well above the going rate.

On this occasion the taxi driver unusually set his meter immediately as we headed off to the hotel, which was some distance from the centre of Tunis. Based on the taxi into the city I had budgeted roughly 20 Dinar for the return trip and was alarmed to see the meter race ahead every quarter of a minute or so.

Traffic was very congested and seemed to crawl along for the first 20 minutes. We were barely half way when I interpreted the meter as 20 Dinar. By the time we reached the hotel it read 12750 and I thought "127 Dinar is an impossible price to pay for a taxi ride".

As the driver drew to a halt in the hotel's car park I suggested in embarrassingly poor French that the fare was much too high for me to pay. He looked at me incredulously and after further attempts to explain myself he suggested that 12 Dinar was the correct fee for the trip because the meter plainly said this was the cost!

Tunis taxi meter