Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Beautiful Money

It is always really interesting when traveling to use different currencies. I usually go through a period where I do conversions in my head to figure out if something is a "good deal," based on the exchange rate. I'm still doing a bit of that, particularly as I'm trying to balance existing funds, vs getting more CLP out of a cash machine, so that I don't end up with a lot of left-over pesos to bring home or exchange for US dollars.

The other part of learning a new monetary system is, of course just figuring out denominations of bills and coins, and handing over correct change. When in doubt, I just stick out a big bill-this doesn't happen all that often anymore, because I know prices in places like the feria, and do the math in my head.
Chile has very colorful money-a US dollar looks so plain next to it:
Notice how the bills are different lengths, in addition to being different colors. I think my favorite is the purple, 2,000 note (about 3.70 US dollars). I decided to photograph the reverse sides since I think they are more interesting, with the different nature scenes from various regions in the country. The obverse has the standard Head of an Important Person on it. One thing I like about these bills is that the 5,000 note has a woman on it, Gabriela Mistral. She was not only Chile's first Nobel Prize winner (for literature), but also the first Latin American to win, and the only female Latin American who has won that prize.

Coins come in 500, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1 peso denominations. At the current exchange rate, 500 is roughly about a dollar. So a 100 peso coin is about 20 cents, 50 pesos would be about 10 cents...you can see how the 10, 5 and 1 peso coins are of limited value!

Steve and I hoarded 500 and the new 100 peso coins for use in our building's washing machines. I always groaned silently whenever I got old 100 coins in change on my daily colectivo rides, since the don't fit in the machines. But for now, I think I have enough to last me for the duration of my stay here.


  1. Purple! Get me some blue-purple alpaca yarn!

    1. Maybe if you let me know who you are, and how much yarn you want, I might be able to help you out :-)