Every USA expat here has probably experienced an initial misunderstanding about what grocery store clerks are talking about when you walk up to the line. It´s the language trouble here, but the cultural one that causes the confusion.
You dont need any Spanish ability at all to figure out what this means in the literal sense. Putting it in context was, and still is the problem for me.
My first few days I shuffled through a few different interpretations and eventually figured out that simply nodding made them stop asking questions. Good enough for me. At that stage of my transition I just really wanted to be left alone while I figured out where I was, and to get the loaf of bread home to my hungry daughter.
For those who have not transitioned yet they arent asking if you want to buy just one ticket to something or if you got a parking ticket (but thats ok, because thats all you got ie: SOLO ticket?). They are asking if you will accept a simple printed receipt for the transaction, or if you need a factura (I think of it as receipt level 2) or a Credito Fiscal (level 3).
I think I just learned that the word Fiscal doubles for “prosecuting attorney” and I’ve begun to associate the two.
In the USA a receipt is a receipt. Companies make them any way they want to, and sequence them independently, in order to keep their records straight. If you loose one, you can reprint it. If you make a mistake, you can erase it and fix the problem. If you are audited and have some damaged or missing receipts odds are very good that you can fill voids with documentation of your transaction histories with your vendors, or other forms of legitimate evidence.
In El Salvador (and many other countries I have been told) records of transactions are not so simple.
The government issues individual serial numbers for all Facturas (receipts) and Creditos Fiscales (business transaction receipts).
These are essentaily serialized government forms, issued to each business for their use. If one is lost, damaged or issued in error, it must be accounted for in some manner.
Fortunately if such a form is returned to the government within the same month one does not have to fill out a second form explaning the error, but if for example, you realize an error too late, you must actually submit an explanation, in triplicate, God help you if you forgot to buy your own carbon paper. (and no…most forms here require three copies and do NOT self copy. DO buy carbon paper)
Please roll with me on this. I want you to picture El Salvador. I want you to picture what is often described as harmonious chaos by the happy, and lawlessness by the bitter. Picture a place where “technically” some guy painted pretty yellow lines in the street, but traffic lanes mean absolutely nothing.