I am flush.
I am a High Roller.
A whale, if you will.
I am a SugarMomma, a Fat Cat, a Big Tipper.
I am Rolling in the Benjamins!
Er, well, Rolling in the Rosas, to be more accurate.
Ramon Rosa, that is. The Big Portrait of Honor gracing the 500 Lempira bill, the highest denomination of Honduran paper money.
The dinero here is known as a "Lempira," or "Lemps" for short. The paper bills are a rainbow of colors that come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500.
There is pocket change, too, of course. Known as "centavos," the Spanish word for "cents," they come in either silver or gold in 1, 5, 10, 20 or 50.
So what does one U.S. dollar equal in Honduran lempiras?
Roughly, it's 20 lemps.
Let me go over that for you again one more time:
It takes 20 lempiras to equal 1 (ONE!) U.S. dollar.
As you can imagine, this took a little getting used to!
It was strange to look at the 60 lemp price on a menu, at first appalled that beans and chips could be so expensive, then realize that this equates to a mere three bucks.
It's even weirder when you are looking at price tags on clothes that are marked at 600 or patio furniture listed as 10,000. For the first month or so, my initial reaction was shock at how high these prices were! Then I would do the math and realize the clothes were $30 and the furniture was $500.
Nowadays, that math is much more immediate, and I don't have to think too hard when I'm confronted with all these numbers.
How do I do it? Well, I'm sure there's a wonderfully complicated formula, involving fractions and decimals and an 'x' that equals things, that Math Teachers everywhere would insist must be followed.
But I am just not a complicated-math-equation kind of girl. Here's my inexact, super secret formula:
1) Delete the last digit from the number.
2) Then divide it in half.
That's it! So, if an item is 628 lemps, drop that last digit, which leaves 62. Cut that in half and you've got 31. So the item is $31 and change.
But it wasn't just the math that took a little getting used-to. It took a while longer to gain some respect for those lempiras.
To realize that, while 20 lemps might look like $1 to me (and therefore, not much money) to most Hondurans here, who work tirelessly for the few lempiras that they get, 20 lemps is what puts dinner on the table.
Despite that new-found respect, though, you can still catch me gleefully counting out thousands of colorful lempiras, Scrooge McDuck-style, when I cash a check for the month's grocery money.
A dollar can go far here. And I'm going to enjoy watching how far that dollar can go!