When inflation first started creeping up in the mid-2000s, nobody really seemed to care all that much. Currencies, especially in Africa, fluctuated all the time. But after several years of worsening crops, the dollar in Zimbabwe plummeted. The government's solution was just to print more money -- this shit's just paper, anyway, right? No big deal. By 2008, prices of simple goods were changing daily -- sometimes even more often. Piet, a border driver, was in Zimbabwe when the inflation began to hit its hardest.
"That August [of 2008] I had more people than usual wanting to go into South Africa, so I made many trips a day back and forth," says Piet. "In the morning, a bottle of Coke at a store would cost only a few hundred million (Zimbabwe) dollars. When I got back in the afternoon another 50 million had suddenly been tacked on the price. And by evening on my third time around, there was another hundred million to the price. It had nearly doubled in 12 hours."
And this went on every day for several months. By October, that bottle of Coke cost trillions. With a T.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
But returning the bottle still only netted you a nickel.
It really messed with people's daily routines:
"Some people going to the market brought a basket full of money, but were told they didn't have enough. They went back home and got enough, only to find that by the time they got back the price had changed again. Some people got out of lines because of announced price changes," Piet remembers.
ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images
"I just want some bananas. Come on, what's a few billion between friends?"