Foreign Lucre

Painter Diego Rivera on Mexico 500 Peso Bank Note

Before visiting any foreign country, I always like to get a supply of banknotes in that country’s currency for the first few days of my trip. So today I headed to Bretton Woods Currency in Brentwood to pick up a couple hundred dollars worth of pesos. The act of handling another country’s currency is always a magical moment for me: I suddenly feel the reality of my impending vacation—in this case, exactly two weeks from today. I got three denominations: 500 Pesos, 200 Pesos, and 100 Pesos.

My favorite is the 500 Peso note, which shows painter Diego Rivera on the front and his wife, the painter Frida Kahlo, on the reverse.


Mexican Patriots Miguel Hidalgo and José Maria Morelos on the 200 Peso Note


Nezahualcoyotl, Pre-Columbian Poety and Ruler of Texcoco

Above are the 200 and 100 Peso bank notes. I was intrigued by the figure shown on the 100 Peso note of Nezahualcoyotl, “Coyote Who Fasts,” who died some fifty years before Hernan Cortés landed at Vera Cruz with a party of conquistadores.

In the article on him in Wikipedia, I read the following interesting description:

Unlike other high-profile Mexican figures from the century preceding Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire,  Nezahualcoyotl was not Mexica;  his people were the Acolhua, another Nahuan people settled in the eastern part of the Valley of Mexico, settling on the eastern side of Lake Texcoco.

He is best remembered for his poetry, but according to accounts by his descendants and biographers,  Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxóchitl and Juan Bautita Pomar,  he had an experience of an “Unknown, Unknowable Lord of Everywhere” to whom he built an entirely empty temple in which no blood sacrifices of any kind were allowed — not even those of animals. However, he allowed human sacrifices to continue in his other temples.

Blue Dollars

Officially, They’re Illegal, Yet There’s an Official Rate

Officially, They’re Illegal, Yet There’s an Official Rate

If you go to Argentina, you can pay one dollar to get 9.07 pesos. Alternatively, you can also pay one dollar to get 13 pesos. Now which rate would you prefer? When you go to the bank, you’ll be offered the 9.07 peso rate. But if you go to certain money changers on Calle Florida and wave a few crisp, new Benjamins (that’s $100 notes) at them, you might possibly get the 13 peso rate.

Last week, the Argentinian government went after several “blue dollar” traders and announced hefty fines against firms involved in the exchanges.

And yet, each day, one could find the official and the blue dollar rate published on the Buenos Aires Herald website. If trading at the blue dollar rate is illegal, why does the government condone promulgation of the rates? It’s as if the DEA published today’s rate for opium, crack cocaine, and heroine as a means of assisting drug dealers standardize their rates.

I am following the issue closely, because I am not averse to getting blue dollars at the black market rate, providing I could do so safely. I will ask around at my hotel when I get there.