Making money in my spare time

Ciento treinta Bolívares

Kris says I have grossly understated the economic situation in Venezuela in my first post. “Come on, it’s not ‘very, very affordable‘ here…Venezuela is currently recognised as The Cheapest Country in the World, for crissake!”

He’s right, of course. So there you are, it’s even better than I made out. The black market dollar rate is a hundred times the ‘official rate’ artificially set by the government, and the value of paper money here is next to nothing. To pay for a meal for two at a mid-range restaurant, you hand over a wad of 100s about a centimeter thick…Bs1,800.00 or thereabouts. And, for all that, it amounts to something like 3 bucks. Petrol is 7 litres a dollar. Need I say more?

So this is one country where I can afford to keep a sample of each denomination as a keepsake in my journal…a whopping 21 US cents are attached to the page above.

The reason I WANT to keep these bills is that Venezuelan money is beautiful. I love the vertical format, the bright colours, the modern graphic layout, the metallic inks and holographic strip that runs through each bill…they’re gorgeous. I’ve been painting them on postcards and in my sketchbooks…challenging, absorbing, and fun to do. Makes me wish I’d thought to make painted versions of the money we came across in the different countries we’ve been to since the start of this trip.
Veinte y dos BolívaresKris jokes that I should be painting US $100 bills instead of Bolívares…says they, at least, would be worth all the effort. Especially here, if we can find a money changer who will take watercolour dollars. 😉

24 thoughts on “Making money in my spare time

  1. hopefully you will make it to qatar in your travels. i think they have some of the most beautiful bills i’ve ever seen! the one-riyal qatar bill has no fewer than 5 distinct patterns on one side and then at least 5 more on the other side. and it’s probably more like 7 or 8 or more on each side. and they’re so tastefully combined and in a lovely harmonious analogous color scheme from olive green to a soft indigo with lots of stops (discrete and gradations) in between. and the other denominations use other analogous color schemes with the same background patterns but each denomination has different contrasting dark brown prints on top. i really hope you go there and paint the bills for us on your blog! 😀 btw, here’s a blog where someone shows the bills, but you have to realize they are far more striking in person, as some of the detail is kinda washed out in the photos. … and then i just did a search for “most beautiful currency”, b/c i was curious what other people were considering the most beautiful, and i saw the maldives and egypt have really beautiful bills, too. and the indian rupee bills, too. thanks for sending me down this rabbit hole! how fun! and how much more clear it is that US currency is entirely too stiff and somber.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a fabulous writer you are…even without any sort of visual, you bring Qatar’s paper money to life; they sound absolutely delicious and irresistible! I will look at the blog, and yes, hopefully, get to see the money (if not the place) in person. Thank you so much for taking my sketchy, lazily written post, developing it, giving it real character and dimension, and then handing it back to me, fulfilled. 🙂


  2. These are so cool, both the original bills and your watercolour rendition. And agree, would be a fantastic idea to paint all currencies you come across. I’ve got a bunch of pretty Icelandic coins on my shelf.. mmm 😀

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    1. We take such everyday things for granted! I never looked twice at Filipino money, and then they discontinued several coins and smaller denomination bills, and I never saw them again…I think we should paint ordinary things, because even ordinary things vanish, eventually. Let me know if you draw the coins! I think I’d become cross-eyed if I attempted to paint coins, the designs are so fine. Thanks, Moonike, for dropping by; nice to know you’re “around” 🙂

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      1. I do try to keep up with yours and Kris’s journey. I admire you both so much for doing this. And all your insights into the lives of local people are wonderful, not to mention all the painting you’ve done. Keep it up, you’re great! 🙂

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  3. I can see why you are inspired by those notes. They are lovely works of art. Since emigrating to the U.S., I find myself pining for notes that are more colorful and interesting to look at. Dollar bills are pretty boring in comparison to global currencies.

    If you could find reference photos, there’s no reason why you can’t undertake the project of retrospectively painting or drawing the currencies of the places you have already visited.

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    1. LOL Oh, Anke, thank you, but the actual money is really very nice, especially in person…most money is printed using the technique of metal plate engraving, so every single hairline of ink is slightly raised, and I guess I’m just a perv when it comes to engraving! 😀 It turns me on…


  4. Beautiful art my dear.. years ago in the early 70’s my grandfather and I visited Caracas for a few weeks and I remember the currency well.. Take care and happy blogging to ya from Laura

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