Thursday, 18 December 2008

Pesos and Pounds

The most common note in my possession is the 100 peso ($100) note: I have lots of these, because when I cash in traveller's cheques, that's what they give me. I'm also told that you should expect $100 notes if you withdraw cash from an ATM. 100 pesos seems like a huge amount, but it works out at roughly £20. It's all psychological...

The value of a $100 note is exaggerated further by the fact that most places seem uncomfortable about accepting them: unless I'm spending more than $20, I feel like I'm putting people out by paying with them. I generally apologise if a $100 note is all I have to pay the $10 bill in a cafe. You get a fistful of notes in change.

Anyway, $100 is £20. I'm thinking back these days to just how often I would hand over a £20 note, and get less than half that amount back in change. $100 seems like a huge amount to me over here, while £20 in the UK was at times the average amount I'd spend in a day, just on breakfast and lunch, and other bits of food and drink. I'm thinking back to the last night out I had in London, where a round of three drinks cost a surprising amount of money: I must've got through at least $200 in that night alone, and it wasn't even particularly long or wild... The other day over here, I was horrified to be greeted with a bill for $15 for a pint of beer.

One of the things I was looking forward to about this trip was not having money to burn. And I'm enjoying myself more out here than I ever did in London when I was blowing at least $1000 a week. I'm not sure if I want to return to Britain and the pressure of getting a high-paid job again, because it all just seems absurd to me at the moment. Mind you, looking at the headlines, it seems absurd to quite a lot of people at the moment.

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