Anybody got a goude?

Michael Hood logoMichael Hood
This is the sorry state of Haitian currency. everyone kvetches about it, not just foreigners. The feel is like limp fabric; the bills’ dishragitude defies them orderliness in a stack or a wad- and it’s tres necessaire to have stacks and wads in order to live and pay for it here.

The local hotels press the money with rolling steam irons, adding no spray starch, unfortunately. Few coins are in circulation, so the 10’s, 20’s, and 50’s pile up. (the Haitian monetary unit is the goude- 50 goudes equals about .88 US$– you get the idea). Things are cheap here, but more expensive than, say, Mexico- which means mounting piles of these smaller bills. They’re so worn sometimes, you must have the colors memorized because the print is unreadable.

The mounting up of small change sounds like a problem of privilege – and it is- one about which the Haitians around me would never bitch.

I hand out these bills magnanimously to kids on the paths who stare at me or ask for a cadeau for food, a strange role for someone whose income the US govt deems below the poverty level.

Michael Hood's photo.

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