Nicaragua: Meet the “Coyote” or Independent Money Exchanger



They are popularly known as coyotes, a moniker given to independent men (and, sometimes, women) found on the streets of Managua who will exchange American dollars for Nicaraguan córdobas.

The coyote usually offers the best exchange rates in the city, making them a more attractive option to, say, a bank.

And they provide a drive-thru service.

Just roll up in your vehicle, get a quick consult on the daily rate, trade currencies, and pull away. It’s so simple, there’s no receipt involved, which might pose a problem for the business traveler or anyone else needing documentation.

The coyote can be found either all-alone or with company.

As you might imagine, standing on a street corner holding a very large wad of cash can make for an easy target, especially in this part of the world, yet the coyote (or his company) is usually armed.

Heavily and inconspicuously armed.

I took the picture above many weeks ago near Managua’s infamous Mercado Oriental. I did not stop to exchange any money (have yet to do so, in fact), but I did have enough time to take a quick photo while traffic was backed-up.

The gesture you see is a friendly wave from a well-known coyote, with cash brick in hand, to my cabby.

[N.B. This is not an official Department of State website or blog. The views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.]

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