Ecuador uses the US dollar as their official currency. Despite this, the contents of my purse look quite different than they did when I lived in the US. Cash is king in Ecuador. Many businesses do not accept debit or credit cards.
My wallet in the US typically had some cash in the form of bills and a bunch of plastic. Any coins I had went into a jar at home.
In Ecuador, I carry a lot of coins, a few bills, and a little plastic. I just dumped out the contents of my wallet. Here is my cash:
|$12.24, mostly coins|
I rarely see $1 bills – we use $1 coins. Why? I think it is because they are sturdier and rinse easier.
In the US, when a bill is damaged, it is not a big deal. The bills are printed there so they are replaced easily. In Ecuador, when a bill is damaged, it needs to be shipped all the way to the US to be replaced.
People and businesses will not accept a damaged bill. They hand it back to you and tell you the bill is no good. Much easier to just use coins! There is no risk of accidentally tearing a coin.
Fish markets are bustling with activity early every morning in many coastal towns. Fishermen bring in their overnight haul and sell it on the beach.
|Fish market, Puerto Lopez, Manabí, Ecuador|
Money changing hands at the market sometimes gets wet with salt water and fish… ummm… parts. Coins can be easily rinsed off. Bills retain some of the smell.
Periodically, I withdraw money from an ATM and receive interesting smelling bills. Those, I try to spend quickly!