July 16, 2007

What can you do with a day's pay?

Lempiras, Honduran moneyA day's pay or pocket change?

I have this habit that I just can't get over. El Jefe doesn't like it so I usually keep it to myself but every now and then it just pops out.

Back in the U.S., I would often justify buying some silly kitchen gadget or a new plant or other nonessentials by telling myself, "Well, it only costs the same as a trip to McDonald's."

Here in Honduras, I often think of the cost of things as how it compares with an average unskilled Honduran worker's daily wage. Let's use L.100 per day as an example (US $5.29). Agricultural workers and maids usually make less than this, unskilled construction workers are now usually making a little more, but L. 100 is a nice round number.

So, with my 100 lemps, I could buy:

  • a Wendy's combo and a Frosty.
  • a taxi to town and back for one of us, or both of us if we were lucky enough to catch a collectivo taxi.
  • 2 1/2 pounds of meat
  • a Triple Chocolate Meltdown at Applebee's − no wait, I'd need another L.22 for tax and tip, but I think they have one or two other desserts in the L.100 price range.
  • a chicken and a small bag of rice.
  • about 1 1/2 gallons of gas.
  • 3 loaves of bread
  • a banana split and a cappuccino at Baskin Robbins.
  • 50-100 bananas.

So looking at it another way, my day's pay could cover my transportation to work or it could allow me one meal per day, but not both.

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