Currency – Coins over bills #AtoZChallenge
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!
Very funny! I live in Mexico. Coins are certainly more durable!
Thanks and yes, they are 🙂
Suviving Mexico … so glad you commented here as I added you to my reading list. Ecuador … Mexico … how exciting!
Wow, yes, I never considered bills carrying the smell of fish and other things. I guess because most of our food is packaged, so that rarely occurs in the US. And being out shopping only to be told my ripped bills are no good, eek! That would be no fun at all. Thanks for sharing these tidbits from another part of the world 🙂
Discarded Darlings – Jean Davis, Speculative Fiction Writer, A to Z: Editing Fiction
It puzzled me when I first moved to Ecuador until I spent some time at the fish market. Then, I had some slightly torn bills rejected. It all started making sense.
Emily, I never thought about the sturdiness or smell of paper currency. I taught in London for a semester and have traveled in different countries and always had to give myself a "chear sheet" to learn their currency systems. The grandsons have sorted and commened about my various saved coins. I learned something new about fishy money.
-Judy Rinehimer (aka "Unknown")
Judy, I had never given it much thought, either, until I moved to Ecuador.
It is so fun to bring back foreign currency from a trip and share it with grandkids!
Do you use American currency there?
Yes we do. We joke that all of the Sakajawea dollar coins ended up here.
I didn't know that Ecuador used US money. How strange.
Ecuador made the switch in 2000 after their own currency crashed.
Hi Emily – we have a new £1 coin – I've yet to see one … I guess they haven't reached the south coast yet! Oh yes – smelly notes – it makes sense to change to coins – yet they can be counterfeited … and that's why the new twelve sided £1 coin came out …
They are trying to do away with cash though … I use cash as much as possible … but that's me! Cheers Hilary
Hi Hilary, A twelve sided coin – that will be interesting. A few years ago, I saw a multi-sided coin with writing on the edge. I do not remember which currency they were. Enjoying your blog!
Funny you write about this because we were traveling last week and had a very small rip in a $50 bill. We tried to use it to buy some things and you would have thought the money had a fatal disease wiped on it! Heidi at, Decibel Memos (Perspectives absent of sound)
That is funny and timely for my post 🙂 Hope that you were able to use it.
A Tarkabarka Hölgy
Many places don't accept cards in Hungary either. I had to get used to using them in the US, because people looked at me funny when I paid in coins…
The Multicolored Diary: WTF – Weird Things in Folktales
Funny – you and I had to learn the exact opposite. Often it is these little things that get overlooked when moving to a different country.
It's bizarre to me that Ecuador doesn't have it's own official currency, and the consequences of that are really interesting.
Ecuador did have it´s own currency for years. The sucre was used until it crashed. The US dollar was adopted in 2000 to stabilize the country.
Donna B. McNicol
This was such a big change for us. We learned to keep all our change in little buckets by the door. A separate one for dollar coins because that was what we carried most often.
DB McNicol, author & traveler
Theme: Oh, the places we will go!
Buckets by the door – good idea. We frequently run back inside because we forgot to grab change.
Fascinating. As a retired Geography teacher I'm embarrassed to admit I don't know a whole lot about Ecuador…..
I bet you know where it is located, though 🙂
Thanks for stopping by and come back tomorrow for a little more.
When I first arrived in Ecuador I thought the weight of the coins was somewhat burdensome. I had about $20 in coins going to a mercado and couldn't figure out why my mostly empty backpack was SO heavy. But in time I have learned to LOVE the coins. I don't know why. I don't go to a fish market, haven't felt the need to rinse one, I just like them. It's okay…I'm about as rare as a boobie.
Ha ha! Thanks for tying this post back to my last one, Scarlett 🙂
Re the heavy backpack – I often forget to empty my coin pocket then wonder who put a brick in my backpack. I also love the coins, though. Glad they are so prevalent here.
Fascinating thing you said there about bills carrying interesting smells. I guess some of us are too used to carrying cards. I rarely carry cash, and almost never in coins.
Carrying cash and especially coins was a big change for me.
When we visited Ecuador it seemed that we still mostly used credit cards, but we also used cash more frequently than at home. I also noticed that I ended up with far more coinage than I normally carry. This was even more true when we were in Canada.
The U.S. should look at Canada's system of bill currency. I don't know what their money is made of–it seems more of a durable plastic substance than paper. Bills there always seem new when you get them and though I never considered washing my money, the Canadian bills do seem like they would clean better.
Tossing It Out
If you were in a larger city in Ecuador, more places may have accepted credit cards. In the small coastal towns where we have lived, the large grocery store and some hotels are the only places that will take cards.
I agree regarding Canada's bills. They seem much sturdier and cleaner.
Fascinating! Are there other countries that use the US currency as their official currency? And it makes sense to have $1 coins. Maui Jungalow
Yes, a few – Zimbabwe and El Salvador are two. It is one way countries mitigate against their own currency collapsing and plunging them into recession.
The Ecuadorian Sucre collapsed about 17 years ago. The government switched to US currency then to stabilize the country before things got worse.
It must be so convenient to have the same currency in both your homes! It still takes me time to get used to the conversion rates and the actual currency notes/coins.
It is super convenient!