22 April, 2007

Money Changers at the Temple

But wait! There's more! You want to change greenbacks to Belize dollars? Not a problem. The official exchange rate is $2.00BZ to $1.00US. Banks will give you, usually about $1.97 or .98BZ to $1.00US (there was no discount at all in my transaction above. Go figure). The Dutchman we'll be renting from took me and personally introduced me to a person in Corozal who will exchange my US dollar checks for $2.05BZ for $1.00US. Dollar to dollar, that's no big deal. Better than the banks though, and if you do $1000US, we're talking $50BZ additional.

The introduction was right out of the movies. I was introduced to him and his wife. I then showed him the check I wanted to cash. He took it, went over to a small desk in the corner and examined it. After all, I'm an unknown quantity at this stage. He looks up and motions for me to come over to his desk and sit on this little stool and endorse the check. He then hands the check to his wife, who promptly disappears into the dark back of the store for a few minutes. She reappears with $1050BZ in a neatly folded bundle. She hands it to him. He very formally, counts it out for me and softly orders me to also count it out. It's right. We both stand up, shake hands, and big smiles all around. He treats me like a long-lost friend and says he's done business with the Dutchman for years and is very pleased to make my acquaintance and looks forward to a long relationship with me as well.

So, am I now in league with the Belize underworld? Again, who knows! All I know, is that just about everyone has a similar arrangement with someone to take care of cashing US checks. Is it the same person? I have no idea. But, we're here for the long haul, so, if it maximizes my dollar with no harm, why not? This is such a fun land, I love it!

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