Ten Bolivianos

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Ten Bolivianos
Ten Bolivianos

When I was 10 my dad handed me 100 bolivianos. This is the currency used in Bolivia. I will never forget what he told me that day “I hope one day you will forgive me” (translated from Spanish). A few days later, he left me and my mom in our small NYC apartment. I kept those 100 bolivianos in my piggy bank, even after the pain he caused me and our family. Eventually I started to see them as good luck; every time I changed piggy banks, those where the 10 bills would signify financial luck. This superstition I created helped me through my teenage years when I needed to help my mom with bills. When I moved out at 17, I learned the struggle of paying my own bills. I worked excessive which took a toll on me. This led to the difficult tradition of opening my piggy banks every month to scrap together any change I have saved to put towards my bills. One day in 2018, I got home exhausted and hungry. I noticed I had no food, so I opened my piggy bank; only about fifteen cents. Luckily, I noticed the Bolivianos. After a quick google search, I found a nearby currency exchange. That day I exchanged 9 of those bills for about ten dollars. As I went to the store to buy a few days’ worth of instant ramen, I felt relieved. This would not be the last day I almost went to sleep hungry; the happiness I felt that day will forever be engraved in my memory. The gift I received on one of the worst days of my life ironically gave me a memorable lesson. One day I hope my kids accept my last boliviano they can understand that even if life beats you down, there’s always hope.

Place(s): Queens, New York City
Year: 1997

– CP

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant