Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Haiti Q & A: What money is used in Haiti?

Q. What money do you use in Haiti?
A. The official Haitian currency is the gourde. If you should exchange $1 USD for gourdes, you would get just under $40 HTG. However, people also talk about Haitian Dollars. This is quite confusing to me, but in doing some research I found this article that helps explain the thoughts behind Haitian dollars. The article talks about the "exchange rate" as 5 gourdes is equal to a Haitian dollar, but most signs say it's 7 or 8 gourdes as a Haitian dollar.

It's kind of an interesting process to get money here. First I write a check to a local grocery store that will cash it. The only one who will do this for me right now is Hispanola, but it's the only one close to my house anyway. The other grocery stores I've been to are all "in the city", meaning Petionville (about 20-30 minutes away on a good day). However, at the grocery stores in Petionville I can use my debit card.

It's hard for me to say if things are cheap or expensive here because it really depends on what we're talking about. I bought a 20" stainless steel stove with a cover for the range for $350 USD. I thought that was pretty good. On the other hand, I didn't buy any liquid hand soap because it was more than 200 HTG for one of the little softsoap bottles you keep next to the sink. That's more than $5!

Some sample prices
Half pound of ham from the deli     $94 htg=$2.35 usd
roll of paper towels                        $58 htg=$1.45 usd
light bulb (1)                                 $10 htg=$0.25 usd
Kraft mac and cheese spirals          $39 htg=$1.00 usd
dozen large eggs                            $155 htg=$3.87 usd

14.1 oz can of powder milk           $136 htg=$3.40 usd  (This can of milk should last me quite a while.)

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