Daily Archives: 2014-09-16

The Dolar Blue

The cool thing about traveling to Argentina right now is the underground economy. The official rate is 8.4 pesos to the US dollar, but the Dolar Blue is at 14.35 and rising! This makes the peso very lucrative for people with USD. It’s not legal, per say, but everyone who has dollars uses the touts who shout, whisper or advertise cambio in someway. It seems very common and makes it much more affordable to buy anything from food to clothes to rent. In fact, we chose to wait to rent a place longer-term until we arrived in Buenos Aires. This way our chances were higher to be able to pay in pesos. With most online apartment rental companies and even AirBnB, only allow payment in USD. Everyone here is crazy about the dollar and the locals will do just about anything to get them.20140909_145713

In the short time we have been here the Dolar Blue has gone up almost $0.50 which is alot when you are exchanging thousands of dollars. Luckily, I have friends here who helped me exchange my dollars for pesos at one of their reputable cambios. We ended up getting a rate of 14 pesos for the dollar and I felt rich! Suddenly things were almost half-price. The very next day it went up 10 cents and it’s been going up daily.

I don’t really understand how it is going to continue or how the locals can live in this very split economy, but it sure makes living here very cheap if you have the wanted currency. The downside is that though there are tons of places to rent, almost all of them want their rent paid by dollar. That is the only currency they will take. We knew we would have to go house hunting in a few days but for now I had booked us our space to get settled.

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I tried to sleep for a little while but Michael just felt antsy to go out and about. I didn’t want to go anywhere without having pesos and we had to wait for Flor to do the exchange. Luckily she was quite fast and we met her at the nearby mall to get our take. It ended up being quite a lot of bills and we felt quite rich. After giving Flor the Nerf Gun she had asked for for her little brother, we parted ways and we went to explore.

After we stashed most of our bills safely at home, we went out for a walk. Michael was starving, as usual, so we were on the hunt for food. I kind of knew the area but I still felt a bit turned around. I just couldn’t find my sense of direction. I knew that if I got to my old house, I would know where I was. So that is what we tried to find…

Grateful for locals, Dolar Blue, having connections, and feeling at home.

 

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The Best Bed and Breakfast in Buenos Aires

IMG_8328Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I had been listening to Flor telling me how things were so different now and that it wasn’t as safe here. She told me to be very careful and I faintly remembered hearing the same words the last time I came. This time I asked whether either of them had been held up or had crime done to them. They both said no. I am sure that with common sense I will be fine, I assured her. Besides, I have Michael here now and he is my protector.

We finally made it near the microcentro and I started recognizing streets and parks. It was not so different at all! The rain just would’t let up so we had a quick goodbye and we waited in the doorway for our AirBnB host to let us in. Though the walk (sprint) to the doorway was just a few feet, I got drenched. When Gus answered the door, he whisked us in out of the terrible storm. Since we had arrived so early, our room wasn’t ready yet but he graciously let us rest in his living room for the morning. We had intended just to drop off our bags and go walk around the neighborhood but that was not in the cards. The storm was ferocious and would not let us even think about stepping foot out there. Instead we laid down on the L shaped couch and I watched the rapid fire lightening until I drifted off to sleep.IMG_8322

A few hours later, we woke up and found that the storm had gone and so had Gus. We waited in the living room and I noticed Gus’s good taste. He was meticulous with his belongings and everything seemed to have a place. I had read good reviews about Gus on AirBnB and so far it was all true. A short while later, Gus showed up and said that our room was ready. He took us across the hall to another condo which he had converted into a Bed and Breakfast. I was so impressed with his ingunuity to have such a cool guesthouse that still allowed him his own space. Brilliant!IMG_8324

Gus showed us our room which happened to be the best of the three, and I was so relieved. It was better than in the pictures! How often does that happen? He spent time explaining the area and how he had gotten there. It was a great story and I was inspired to someday do the same thing. He really enjoys his guests and makes them feel at home. He took the little chalkboard off our door and wrote our names on it and where we were from. I glanced at the others and there was a German Thomas and two guys from Venesula. It was so cozy and sweet…very well kept. When he finally left us to settle in, I flopped on the comfy bed and exhaled. Finally, I’m back.

Grateful for hospitality, good honest reviews, space heaters, home made medialunas, and drying off.

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The Long Way

20140907_214515When we got near Buenos Aires, there was a pretty intense storm. I had my face stuck to the window to capture the beauty of it all. I was slightly surprised that we were flying right into it but strangely, I wasn’t scared. I guess I was too excited to be feeling anything else. I have been thinking about coming back here for quite a while. But only in the last few months was the feeling very very strong. I am not sure why but I just needed to come back. And stay a while. A week wouldn’t do. No, I had to revisit my life here. I am so glad to be bringing Michael. It’s a completely different feeling traveling with someone. And right now, I need his moral support.

When I liv20140908_172930ed here almost a decade ago, I was a different person. At least I think I was. I feel like the places that have defined me have been the ones that have most challenged me. And Argentina was the best and the worst, in so many ways. I knew before I landed the first time that I would stay here for a while. I wasn’t sure why but I just knew I would stop moving from place to place and take a rest. I had been traveling non—stop for three years. So it was time for a break. Some part of me knew it was home. At least for a while.

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Plane rides done right

After a wonderful couple weeks at Burning Man, we packed up and are now on our way to South America. I am sitting on the plane (2 out of 3) smelling the yummy food being heated. My tummy is growly so I must be hungry. Michael is sleeping in my lap. Luckily, we got the whole row so he could spreaIMG_8188d out. That happened on the last flight too but I took my turn sleeping between San Francisco and San Salvador. It certainly is a long trek down to Buenos Aires taking more than 26 hours but that is the price you pay for getting good deals on tickets. Besides, Avianca ain’t so bad. They feed you for free and that is a major plus in my books.

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There is nothing like gliding through the baby blue expanse, high above the clouds nibbling on a hot buttered bun and sipping wine. No matter how bad the food may be (insert random joke about bad airplane food), I will never tire of dining among the stars.
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