Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Living on the Cheap

American money is boring. It's dull to look at and lacks character that other monetary denominations possess around the world. Despite this boring state of appearance, there's no better time than now to be using the dollar as your base currency. The overall strength of the dollar has made life abroad a much more affordable endeavor. This is especially true here in Colombia.

The local currency here in Colombia is the Colombian Peso (COP). Currently (as of January 27th), $3,355 COP is equivalent to $1 USD. When I first arrived in country a year and half ago, $1 USD was equivalent to about 2,300 COP. Needless to say, it's a great time to be an American living here! Due to the overall strength of the dollar here currently, the prices of many every day things are fairly cheap when compared to the United States. Those prices become even more affordable when living in a rural pueblo.

Colombian Pesos
In the pueblo, one of the main centers of commerce and gathering is the local tienda. Here in Repelón, tiendas litter every street corner. At any given time of the day, groups of men can be found here playing dominoes. Business deals are completed over a local delicacy from the bakery and a coke. Beers and conversation are shared by all ages as sitting in front of the tienda is a popular way to pass the hot, humid days. It is also at these tiendas that some of the best deals in town can be found.

A small collection of the various tiendas around town
I will admit that I'm not the most active shopper in town. I have been extremely lucky that my host mom is an amazing cook and prepares the majority of my meals for me. However, many of the other volunteers in my group do shop in their pueblos. So, in order to figure out just how strong the dollar currently is and what things cost, I asked some of my fellow PCV's to help me out by supplying me with some of the common items that they buy either on a daily or weekly basis. Below is a table that compiles all of the items that they supplied me with. It's really shocking to see just how cheap things really are when they are laid out in this way.

*Special thanks and shout out to Jessi, Alejandra, Jordan, and Katrina for helping me out with this post! Couldn't have done this without you guys!*

It's honestly pretty amazing how far $1 USD will go in the pueblo. All that I know is that I'm going to have a really hard time readjusting to food prices when I get back stateside...


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