Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Blue Dollars and Arbolitos in Buenos Aires, Argentina

It's nice to be back in Buenos Aires.  We were here in 2006 and we enjoyed it so much we included it with our Brazilian trip.  We expected Argentina to be chilly since it's the beginning of spring here, but the weather is very pleasant. Last night as we had dinner in Doug's favorite Cafe in the Recoleta, it was quite balmy. 

Here we are, staying in the Melia hotel, No. 1557 on Posadas Street, in the Recoleta area. We did not know it until we saw a writeup in the hotel lobby, but Evita Duarte Peron had lived in this building from 1942-1944.  Colonel Mercante had pulled strings so Evita could have an apartment in this building.  It was Mercante who introduced Evita to Juan Domingo Peron, and Evita and Peron moved to nearby No. 1561 on Posadas Street.

Evita, Che Guevara, and now Pope Francis --- all from Buenos Aires.  Clearly there's something about this place that encourages uniqueness.

Our guide in Ouro Preto had said something about the Argentinians: "They don't consider themselves Latin Americans; they think they're Europeans." OK - OK- maybe there's some tension between Brazilians and Argentinians.

But you know, it's fun here in Buenos Aires.  The people like to sit out in Cafes for coffee or drinks and to talk or people-watch, almost with the same passion as the French do.  They're very alegre and stylish but there's something amiss this time.

Apparently inflation is high and Argentinians are afraid their government will default on their debts.  People have been hoarding dollars. The Argentinian government is not allowing Argentinians to acquire dollars freely; they must get them from official money changers.  As a result the dollar is a hot black market item.

I went shopping today in Florida Street.  This is a pedestrian only street, and there are countless shops and gallerias on both sides.  In every block, I ran into maybe ten men saying, "Cambio, cambio."  These men are called "arbolitos" or little trees because they stand there like trees offering to change dollars or reales for pesos. They bring interested parties to caves or cuevas to do the actual exchange but this can sometimes get ugly.  

The official exchange is around 5.7 pesos to a dollar; but the black market rate is 8-9 pesos to a dollar (or blue dollar as they call it). Clearly using dollars gets you great deals.

(Here' I'm recommending Fenix Leather Factory on Florida 681 Local 5, Galeria Arax, where I found a fine red leather coat - I think it was Gustavo who helped me. Walk down the stairs; it's on your left. To prove the coat is made of leather and silk, he will place a burning lighter on the coat.)

Aside from a walk and shopping I didn't do much today. Tomorrow will be sightseeing day.  I did get some pictures of a dog walker with his dogs.  Argentinians must love dogs because there are many dogs around, with their owners, with dog walkers, and sometimes scot-free.

I walked by some students protesting on behalf of public education; note the small group playing cards.

And there's Doug resting in front of the French Embassy, and a picture of the San Martin park with a monument.

The pictures of Evita, Che, and Pope Francis are courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This is all for now, dear Readers,

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 tags: travel, tourism, holiday, Argentina, Buenos Aires, South America, arbolitos, blue dollar, black market

1 comment:

Clara said...

I saw a couple of dog walkers in Buenos Aires just like the one in your first photo. Is that a common job to do in the city?