I am in the middle of a bitter currency dispute with my landlord in Lviv. The US dollar vs. the Ukrainian hryvna is a contentious issue right now. Over the past couple of months the Ukrainian hryvna has performed worse than every other currency in the world against the US dollar, save the honorable Zimbabwean dollar.
In Ukraine, as in many developing countries, the domestic currency is pegged to the US dollar and it is not abnormal to make private transactions in USD's. But now in the midst of this financial crisis, Ukrainian banks are hording dollars and will not give them out to foreigners with cross-border accounts.
This leaves people like me dealing with exchange market thieves when in need of dollars. They are selling dollars at a 40% markup. It is completely illegal but no one is doing anything, per usual in Ukraine, since the government has been dead-locked in a political standoff for the last six months.
Anyway, this situation hurts me most of all because my landlord now suddenly refuses to accept Ukrainian currency. He wants US dollars only. No Ukrainian citizen could possibly pay their rent in US dollars right now but since I am from The States and the dollars just arrive under my pillow at night, he figures I will give in and eventually agree to bend over for him. Fuck that!
So I am now ready to go to Odessa if he refuses to accept hryvnas at a specified rate. My life as it is in Lviv, has probably become too comfortable anyway. I have fallen victim to routine and am deeply in love with my apartment. I feel repugnantly domesticated. I mean, I even have a freaking toaster oven and food processor here. My bed isn't a fold-out and I know the names of all of my neighbors: all bad signs, all creative suicide.
Hello Black Sea and notorious pirate enclave? I will know on Thursday.