Monday, November 19, 2012

Uruguay and Argentina by the Numbers

Greetings friends, first Argentina by the numbers. As you will recall we entered Argentina on October 23, and left a few days ago on November 15. We were in the country for a total of 23 days, and withdrew $2144. We left with a mere $27, most of which was in Chilean and American currency, and we had entered Argentina with about $217. In total we spent $101.91 per day on average. Obviously, this makes Argentina the most expensive country of our trip so far. Some of this seemed justified, Argentina is a fairly modern country with all the high-tech amenities we are used to, however they are having some severe economic difficulties. There are strict currency restrictions preventing locals from changing their pesos into dollars. This has lead to a parallel market which gives a 30% markup in the value of the dollar. For someone traveling to Argentina from their home country it would make much more sense to bring dollars or Euros, or whatever other currency and then change it on the street in Argentina and get a much better rate. Given our style of travel, it did not make sense to carry around thousands of dollars through a dozen countries in anticipation of our arrival, so we really just had the chilean pesos when we crossed the border, where we got the black market rate (which is called bludolar in Argentina) but otherwise we used the ATM and got the official rate. Additionally, Argentina has been experiencing 20+% inflation over the past few years, so it looks like it will only get more expensive, especially as they limit currency transactions, although from what I read it looks like another default/currency devaluation may be in the near future, so as always, check the news before you visit.

Last thursday we said goodbye to our friend Paula and got on the boat from Buenos Aires to Colonia. We opted for the Colonia Express boat which was slightly cheaper than the competition. After undergoing the usual immigration formalities, and getting two more passport stamps, we settled into a cheap hotel in Colonia. Colonia is a very small town with a lot of colonial history both from Portugal and Spain. It is also a major tourist destination for day and weekend trippers from Buenos Aires. Many restaurants and businesses accept Argentine pesos, but the rate is even worse than the bludolar rate. On Thursday we went up to the top of the local lighthouse, and also ate an Uruguayan specialty, chivito. Chivito is served in two varieties, on a plate or on bread. We opted for chivito for two on a plate. Basically we got a plate covered with french fries, with some salad and potato salad on the side. On top of the french fries were two steaks. On top of the steaks were slices of ham, stacked on the ham were slices of cheese, on top of the cheese were fried eggs, topped off with slices of bacon. Obviously this is a very heart healthy meal. On Friday we went to a few different musuems. There are 9 small musuems around town that are part of a single ticket, so we bought that ticket and went to three of them. We also checked out the aquarium and an old naval musuems. All of the musuems are quite small, but there is an entire whale body that had washed up on the shore a long time ago, as well as some exhibits about the indigenous people of the area. Friday was another culinary experience. I ate gramajo which is a mixture of french fries, ham, cheese, onions, and peas in stir fry form. Saturday we took the bus to Montevideo, where the central bus terminal is also located in a giant mall, so after shopping for a bit and grabbing lunch we came to Pocitos (a beach neighborhood) and found a place to stay. As some of you know our parents are coming to visit us in a few days, so we have been given strict instructions to become experts of Montevideo before they arrive. We have already found the beach, and also found a delicious artisan ice creamery. We have also tested the local Uruguayan beers, so far they have a very good porter, more to come on that front later. Today we will be exploring more of the city, we will report back later.

No comments:

Post a Comment