So what is a “red one” you ask? “Todo por un rojo” translates literally to “All for a red one.” But what does that mean? It’s how Costa Ricans refer to their 1,000 colónes red bill in stores or in a market – something we Americans wouldn’t understand because all our money is a boring light greenish color.
“Todo por un rojo” is a phrase here in Costa Rica that’s similar to “only 99 cents” or “Dollar Store” in the US. It means the deal costs a red 1,000 colónes bill – about $2 US.
Todo Por un Rojo
It’s so fun living in a country long enough and getting close enough to their culture that we can understand the local jokes and lingo. They don’t use this phrase with us much because they think “gringos” don’t understand much Spanish, let alone local phrases, but we hear it once and awhile. Sometimes I clarify a price with a vendor and ask if something costs “un rojo.” It always gets a smile from them.
The fast food restaurants use it on their signs all the time. When a store is advertising something on the cheap and want to catch everyone’s attention, their sign says “Todo por un rojo.” Even on the street people will tell you the price of something as “un rojo,” a red one.
The signs are something fun to notice when walking around town. I laugh every time I see an American store advertising with the Tico lingo. It’s great!
Keep your eyes out and you’ll be surprised how much local lingo has made its way into stores and restaurants you’ve familiar with like McDonalds, Burger King, and Taco Bell. Even though many Costa Ricans don’t know what a burrito is, they really like their fast food restaurants.
Colorful Costa Rican Money
All of the money in Costa Rica is really colorful – I love it! It’s way easier to tell what value a bill is by just glancing at it. There is red (c1,000), blue (c2,000), yellow (c5,000), green (c10,000), orange (c20,000), purple (c50,000).
They are even different sizes! The bills are longer as they get more valuable, but the height stays the same. It makes it really difficult to fold up a wad of different bills!
I hope you can use this next time you’re in the market and you want to buy something for “por un rojo!” Leave a comment if you’ve heard any other local lingo in Costa Rica!