Friday, September 12, 2008

The Money Changers

Our new landlady agreed to a very favorable monthly rent with two caveats; one we pay 3 months at a time and 2nd, we pay in $USD. Apparently it behooves Argentino's to hold American dollars, just in case of another bank crash, military coup or general civil unrest. As I mentioned earlier, these folks have been through a lot over the years and they are understandably skeptical of their own currency. They view $USD as a commodity, something to have stashed away for a rainy day!
I have an account with an International bank so I'm able to withdrawal funds via ATM, without any ridiculous service charges. However I can only withdrawal $300.00 pesos or $100.00$USD at a time, supposedly for security reasons, but I can continue to withdrawal funds up to $1,500.00$USD per day....go figure. Also, I cannot withdrawal $USD, only pesos, in other words, I need a shitload of pesos to pay 3 months rent.  Apparently it's common to carry a huge wad of cash in this country.  I'm an  American....I don't' typically large have large amounts of cabbage on me.  I use my debit card to buy a pack of gum! So, I'm riding the bus with a ton of cash in my  "Rick Steves" money belt, I'm such a complete and utter dork!
Now comes the fun part! One must visit a Cambrio de Casa (house of change) in order to convert Pesos to Dollars. Deidre and I visit our neighborhood change house, but find they are short of $USD, they have a boatload of Euros, Australian Dollars and Brazilian Reals,  but no US Dollars. Then we go to another change house, which is disguised as a travel agency, with a long time resident of BA who has befriended us. Initially I get in line with everyone else, but today's limit is $1,000.00. Then our friend comes to our rescue. She speaks rapid fire Spanish to a few of the clerks, speaks on the telephone with the "people upstairs", more heated discussion, a wave at the closed circuit television and then everything is fine, the limit has been temporarily waived.   I give them the remainder of my cash and they promptly exchange for $USD at a very favorable rate. Should any of you visit, bring "extra" money, I'll gladly exchange for pesos!

Send lawyers, guns and money, the shit has hit the fan-Warren Zevon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious! Call me the Money Tree .. let me know what you need .. lots of love from chicago!