This is a bit of a nothing post, boys and girls. The next set of posts is about the Galápagos Islands, and, well, they’re sizeable. And not done yet. So have some light relief in the meantime…
I am not what you would call a mature individual – at least, not as far as my sense of humour is concerned. And one of the ways I entertain myself as we travel around the world is to invent stupid names for the currencies of the various countries we pass through. And so, without further ado, I present to you my favourites:
- the Vietnamese Dong. Really, you don’t even need to come up with a joke for that to be funny.
- the Thai Baht. Learning the denominated currency name for each new country is hard enough; learning the names of the shrapnel is going too far. Half a baht is fifty somethings, but I have no idea what the somethings are actually called. Often, I’ll just go with ‘mini-Xs’, eg ‘mini-pesos’ instead of ‘centimos’. In Thailand, there was something strangely satisfying about ‘baht bits’.
- the Costa Rican Colón. Any currency named after a part of the human digestive system has got to be a winner. And obviously there’s plenty of choice for whatever the hell the equivalent of cents should be named…
- the Peruvian Nuevo Sol. This one’s mostly funny because the ISO currency code is PEN, and I once saw something that cost PEN15. Like I said. Immature.
- still with ISO currency codes, the Argentine Peso: ARS. Argentina has a government-mandated exchange rate, supported by restrictions on locals obtaining the currency. But US dollars are so popular that there’s an extensive black market, and the black market rate is about 60% higher than the official rate (you’ll get more than eight pesos to the dollar on the street, versus a bit over five for official money exchange). So if you use official means of getting pesos, you’ll lose about 60% of the value you could have got. I like to think of this as the ARS hole.
- the Bolivian Boliviano. This one just keeps on giving. First off, the ISO currency code for this one is BOB. “That’ll be five bob, please.” Amusing enough for an ex-Londoner. Better yet, the practical abbreviation is “Bs”, as in “Bs10” for something that’s worth roughly £1. “How much is that one?” “Ten bullshits, looks like.”
- and finally, the US Dollar. This one’s just funny coz it’s not worth as much as the Australian dollar any more. Suck it up, yanks! (Nonetheless, I suppose at least it’s still beating what I’ve heard a couple of unhappy Kiwis refer to as the New Zealand peso, so there’s that…)