New Thing #109: Foreign Currency

Canadian_$At various times in my life I've been in possession of Canadian money by accident. I'm sure you have too.

Sometimes you get a Canadian penny, or a Canadian quarter, as change, and then you turn around and sneak them off into a purchase and your economic life moves on.

Last week for the first time I intentionally used Canadian money....and it was my American money that I used apologetically while I was in Quebec.

There are a couple of points I want to cover about the Canadian money I used. First is how I got it: You can get Canadian money at the bank. I did not know this. And thanks to my wife, who actually went to the bank for me, I was able to get the $80 you see above for my trip. (For those who don't know - it costs $83 American to get $80 Canadian these days.)

The second thing is how nice Canadian money looks. I was afraid to even fold it up to put it in my pocket, it was so crisp and neat. And look at those images! They're so pretty.

The third thing is that above you see the bills. There are also 2-dollar coins and the dollar coin. (I think that's the one called the Loon.) And this is where it gets slightly embarrassing. After I bought some souvenirs that came to about $45 (or 45$, as they write in Canada), I gave the guy $50 and got only change back. I paused, considered, and said to the guy, "I thought I gave you $50." He looked at me, I looked at him...and then I realized...I held $5 in coins in my hand. "Oh. These are dollars, aren't they?" I said.

Imagine how lost I would be in a country whose money didn't so closely resemble what I'm used to.

I was dumb tourist a few times on this trip...but I learned from my experiences. Which I guess it part of the point with international travel.

And there's a happy ending. On my last day, I spent my last few Canadian dollars on my last few souvenirs. And the last store I went to allowed me to pay the difference on my Nordiques glass with American cash.