Passing the Buck

by Rachel Gertz

The Costa Rican Colone
What you see before you? About 36 bucks or a Tico’s daily income.

Costa Ricans use the colón (₡). It sounds like a processed meat or intestinal exit, but it’s the currency of choice. Blame Columbus. It was named after him back in those dark exploratory times when people thought naming things after rickety explorers with bleeding eyes was a fabulous idea. 

The colón is an interesting piece of currency. Would you believe, Costa Rica is considered one of the most expensive countries in Central America, and yet its currency is regularly undervalued. In fact, every year the value of the colón decreases by about 20% or about 17 cents a day. Guess the government wants to keep up with Jones’. Recently this undervaluing has become “free to float within the currency band” because the US economy is in the shitter. 

Current value?

498 colónes (₡) = 1 American Dollar

So you can pretty much expect to a beer to cost about $2 here. If you’re paying more, you’re probably getting ripped off, gringo. The trick Travis taught me to figure out the difference is to just multiply the colón prices by two and divide by 100. I don’t know. It works.

Relative Cost

  • Highballs are usually $2 (1000 ₡)
  • You can buy a decent lunch here for $7 (or 3500 ₡)
  • A car rental is ridiculously expensive $40/day plus (20 000 ₡)
  • Fancy prostitutes? You’re looking about $150 (75 000 ₡)* 
  • Cheap streetwalkers $20 (10 000 ₡)

You should probably know: you can pay virtually anything using your VISA but it will be a hassle. There’s a tax involved that most companies have to input manually. You’ll be waiting for a while and paying extra. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.


*Apparently working a few days a month is ample dinero. It will cover this lady of the evening’s cost of living for the rest of her long ass month. You’re really helping the economy. Share your seed.

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