When it comes to currency in a new Jollof Road country, the Nigerian in me is constantly having heart attack. When we checked in a few nights ago, the first thing I wanted to do was grab a bottle of coke. This is what a bottle of Coke that costs 6,000 looks like.
And a 618,000 room? It looks like this.
By the next morning, when we stopped by at an ATM, this is what came out.
The first thing you learn about a country at a border is their exchange rate. $1 goes for 9,800 leones. That means the lowest note we’ve interacted with is 1,000 leones, and the only coin I’ve touched is 500 leones.
Just as with my Liberian confusion, this feels completely normal for Sierra Leoneans, because really, what other frame of reference do people have?
I got talking with the guy at the hotel reception and somehow, it ended in income. I asked him how much he earned.
“800,000 leones,” he said.
It had me thinking, maybe, just maybe this might be a good window into his Leone life. What do Sierra Leoneans think about money and how do they interact with it? I couldn’t find that out today, but you’ll be hearing from me.