Day 1, Central America trip, Dec 2012
Guatemala city, Guatemala Day 1
Guatemala is one of the few Latin American country that still retains its own money. Unlike Panama or a few other countries that would use US dollar as their own currency. This is how much it is worth, in the equivalent of $40 USD, in Quetzales. All $262.21 in its glory.
I exchanged the money at the airport, at the rate of 6.65 Quetzales per USD. This is a very unfavorable rate comparing to direct withdrawal from an ATM or bank. However, I needed taxi money to bring the school supplies to Safe Passage, an NGO right here in the dump center of Guatemala city.
In the end, I ended up paying the taxi driver in $35 USD (he wanted to be paid in USD) for taking me to Antigua after he has waited while I drop off the school supplies and tour their 3 different facilities. It was a bit pricey and cost more money than my original forecast budget (based on feedback of others) but flexibility is a virtual when we travel.
Tips: All in all, money exchange counters are available throughout the Guatemala City airport. Do not exchange your money at the very first counter when you first exit as the line is long. There is another counter by custom/immigration. I was the only person there from the same flight. Therefore, my transaction was quick, under 2 minutes.