Photo:  JORGE NAVARRO
Photo: JORGE NAVARRO

COSTA RICA JOURNAL – To travel to El Silencio de Quepos, one does not need a passport, but you do need to change money.

In this village, some 30 kilometres south of Quepos on the Costanera and six more on a gravel side road, Colones or Dollars are not welcome.

The community uses the Udis.

Photo  JORGE NAVARRO
Photo JORGE NAVARRO

The Udis is a currency adopted since 2007 by the Coopesilencio cooperative, a community organization. The Udis stands for “unidad de intercambio solidario” (translated into English as the Supportive Exchange Unit).

El_Silencio-Quepos_LNCIMA20140621_0124_1Maribel Barboza explained to Wanda Araya of La Nacion that the cooperative implemented the UDIS when its workers, employed mainly in agriculture, livestock and tourism, would lose their salaries and sometimes victims of robbery.

The cooperative provides the Udis and its employees incidate what percentage of their salary they want to receive in that currency to use to make purchases in local shops.

The Udis comes in 1.000, 2.000, 5.000 and 10.000 demonimations and includes security measures against counterfeiting.

And although the Udis has the same value of the Colon, if a third party whishe to purchase it, there is a ¢250 colones surrchage – that is ¢1.000 UDIS costs ¢1.250 colones – with the ¢250 going to an animal rescue centre that is also managed by the cooperative.

One of the biggest incentivs for the residents to use and carry Udis is the preferred prices (10% discount) at the commissary, that sells a variety of products from rice and beans to construction materials.

“At first it was not easy to adpat to the currency, but then we got discounts and raffle tickets for appliances in exchange, as an incentive for people to do their shopping here and not have to go to downtown Quepos.

“We are used to it, and, with it, everyone wins” , Nery Barboza told La Nacion.

La Nacion said it tried to contact the Banco Central – the issuer of Costa Rica’s currency, the colon – on the UDIS. However, it did not receive a response despite repeated calls over several days.

Source: La Nacion, YouTube