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The Skinny On Mexican Pesos

Published on January 19, 2015 by admin

Mexican currency is called the peso. The word literally means “weight”, and it originally refered to pesos oro (gold weights) or pesos plata (silver weights).

When I first started vacationing in Mexico over a decade ago, an easy conversion was to knock a zero off the price (so $200 pesos translated to $20 USD). Now, though, the exchange rate is closer to 14 pesos to the US Dollar! All the more reason to book a beach vacation rental and taste what Mexico has to offer!

These colorful, polymer bills won’t get ruined if they get wet. Each is a different color and conveys an interesting piece of Mexican history.

Appearing on the 100 peso bill is King Nezahualcoyotl (meaning Coyote who fasts). Don’t be fooled by his stern profile! This wise ruler was a poet and philosopher who didn’t approve of human sacrifice. His poem printed on the back of the bill reads:

“I love the song of the mockingbird, Bird of four hundred voices. I love the color of the jade stone, And the intoxicating scent of flowers. But more than all, I love my brother, man.”

Have you heard of Benito Juarez? Wherever you go in Mexico, you will probably encounter streets, buildings, and even cities named after him! This little indigenous man (only 4 foot 6 inches tall), served as President of Mexico for five terms. His likeness appears on the blue 20 peso note—probably the most useful bill of all!

Another bill you will use a lot is the red 50 peso note. It’s so handy for taxi fares, street tacos, or a few beers! The young revolutionary you see on this bill is Jose Maria Morelos. (Puerto Morelos is one of the places named after him. This charming fishing village is only 30 minutes north of Playa del Carmen.)

ATMs in Playa will most likely spit out wads of 500 peso bills for you. These can be hard to break at small local stores and restaurants, so save them for bigger purchases! The older version of the 500 peso bill shows revolutionary Ignacio Zaragoza. This guy is best known for defeating invading forces at the battle of Puebla (which is commemorated on Cinco de Mayo). Newer 500 peso bills show famous Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

The nun gracing the green 200 peso bill is Juana Ines de la Cruz. She promoted education for women and remained single to focus on her studies—brave for a woman living in 17th century Mexico!

Miguel Hidalgo, a leader in the Mexican War of Independence, is honored on the 1000 peso bill. These bills are not commonly circulated, so I have yet to meet this guy!

Last and least, we have monedas (coins). The 5 peso coin will get you a city bus ride within Playa. And typically a bottle of water or soda costs the refreshingly low price of 10 pesos! This thick, heavy coin depicts the Aztec sun god with a fire mask and makes a pretty cool keepsake!

Most establishments in the Mayan Riviera accept USD as well. Be sure to check exchange rates when you travel so you can make the most of your money.

Written by Kelly G.

Category: Travel Tips

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