16 November 2013
Messages hidden in money……. We usually don’t look at the paper money that passes through our hands in every day use; it’s just part of life’s background I guess. Often the pictures on the bills follow a theme of sorts — dead presidents in the U.S., royal personalities in the U.K., architectural scenes in the Euro-zone and so on. Idle musing one day in Uruguay brought my attention to the image on the widely used $1000 peso note (approx U$D 50.00): a woman named Juana De Ibarbourou. I hadn’t known of any powerful female political personas here, and military stuff seems to be pretty well male dominated; the whole thing was something of a curiosity to say the least.
A quick internet snoop later and a really interesting insight into the nature of Uruguayan culture jumps out. Juana was a famous poet here. There are a total of 7 different denominations on the UY paper money, from $20 pesos thru $2000 pesos. The personalities featured on the remaining 6 banknotes include another poet, a sociologist instrumental in founding the national education system, a violinist and composer, an artist, an educator, and a priest and botanist involved in creation of the national university and library systems. Only two of the 7 ever held political office; all of them simply were people the society has chosen to celebrate as being worthy of recognition for their individual contributions to the creation of the national community.
Living here is fun.