Money pon mi brain.
The moment I landed in Jamaica, it was clear that my small island sentiments and ideas of life were not going to reign true here.
Living on an island where the legal tender is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, seeing a coin represent a dollar amount that is the third largest bill, is surprising to say the least. It served as the catalyst for my transformation from basic, mathematically challenged human to a mathematically challenged human currency converter. Oh, what joy!
The first time I went to ‘Little Colours’ (campus tuck shop) to hear that a patty cost one hundred and eighty dollars, I was ready to swim my butt back to Antigua until I remembered that one hundred dollars meant roughly one US dollar which is roughly two EC dollars (2+2 is 4 minus 1 that’s 3 quick maths).
With that said, here are some facts to help you navigate currency like ‘skkkrr ah pap pap pap pap pap’, when you get here.
- There are 1 dollar coins but these are the dregs of society and will elicit dirty looks from cashiers and conductors alike.
- The fifty-dollar bill is the smallest JMD bill.
- The currency fluctuates on a regular basis but street value remains 100 JMD to 1 USD.
- When changing currency, AVOID the bank, take your chances in the line at a cambio.
- Cambio is the collective noun for places where currency is bought and sold (yes, I know, it’s Spanish. No, I don’t know why)
- “Bills” is a term used to refer to the 100 dollar bill and only changes if a number precedes it. E.g. ‘5 bills’ is five hundred dollars.
- You don’t know pain till you’ve lost a $5000 bill. As soon as the ATM spits it at you, get it changed!
Those are your basics and there goes my word limit. Maybe next time I’ll tell you how I ended up properly packed onto the wrong bus?
By Jaycie Lewis
Jaycie Lewis is an Antiguan final year student at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, School of Drama. She is pursuing a Bachelors in Fine Arts in Theatre Arts. She is passionate about culture, politics and social justice, and intends to investigate and discuss issues surrounding these topics through her art. Connect with Jaycie on Instagram @aurajae