My arch-enemy: Ramón Rosa

7 May

“El aporte de Ramón Rosa para la cultura y la política hondureña es de primer orden, de hecho es uno de los más grandes pensadores que ha tenido Honduras desde que existimos como nación.”

~ Mario Argueta, Historiador

Ramón Rosa was born in Tegicigalpa on 14 July 1848. He was a prominent journalist, liberal politician, lawyer, diplomat and writer in Central America throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century.

The historian Mario Argueta wrote: “Ramón Rosa’s contribution to Honduran politics and culture is of the first order, in fact he is one of the greatest thinkers Honduras has had since we began to exist as a nation.”

He sounds like a decent bloke, and undeniably made many important contributions to Honduras’ development, so why is he my arch-nemesis?

This is why:

500 lempiras

It’s his face that graces the Honduran 500 lempira note.

It’s legal tender, but pull out one of these bad boys to pay for anything less than 400-and-something lempiras and you’d think you’d offered to pay with a wad of chewed up gum.

A few weeks ago on the cab ride home I opened my wallet to find that I’d spent all my 100 lempira notes. Cue mild panic. I asked my driver if he had change, which of course he didn’t.

No worries, there’s a drive-through Espresso Americano near my house, so I figured I’d treat myself to a coffee and break the note. It was 5pm, so after a full day of service surely they’d have plenty of cash on hand.

We arrived at the service window and I ordered my latte. Before she’d even finished relaying the order to the barista, the hawk-eyed cashier spotted the 500 lempira bill I was nervously clutching and asked me if I had anything smaller.

I gave her my most winsome and apologetic smile and told her that this was all I had. She promptly refused me service.

That’s right, rejected by the coffee shop because I had too much money. For a second or two I contemplated buying 400 lempiras worth of coffee (which at 24 lempiras a latte is a LOT of coffee) but I decided that was a tad ridiculous.

Fortunately my taxi driver is lovely, and he knows where I live, so he agreed to let me pay him the next day.

Carrying around a wallet full of 500 bills is like carrying a pocket full of unstable uranium isotopes. You’re constantly worrying about where, how and when you’ll be able to safely get rid of them.

I’ve started taking out 900, 1400 or 1900 lempiras at ATMs. At least then I know I’m guaranteed to be given four 100 lempira notes which will hopefully tide me over until I can work out how to break the dreaded 500 lempira bills.

I’m a bit obsessive compulsive so I normally make sure the notes in my wallet are aligned the same way with the famous faces to the front. All except the 500 bills with Ramón “Hard-to-Break” Rosa. I turn his note the other way.

I can’t stand looking at his smug, unbreakable face.


2 Responses to “My arch-enemy: Ramón Rosa”

  1. MB May 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm #

    Rejected by the coffee shop! That’s a first Miss Em. You can probably trade them for Disney Dollars next week! Worth the same? At least the taxi driver isn’t taking them because they are ‘worthless’ forgeries!

    • honduranhiatus May 8, 2013 at 8:52 am #

      Not worth anywhere near the same. Not even half the amount. 500 lempiras is roughly AUD$25.

      And yes, I believe the “do not hand all your notes to a taxi driver so he can check if they’re ‘worthless’ forgeries” rule applies both here and in Argentina!

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