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Meanderings of a Working Travel Agent

Money Laundering…or What?

Sometimes being nosy can be a good thing. My husband always laughs at me because he knows that I love eavesdropping on nearby conversations. Sometimes he gets the clue when I’m looking straight at him, but I have a distracted look on my face. He can tell that my brain is somewhere else and I’m listening to the people at the next table. Isn’t that terrible. I didn’t think this blog will become the form of a confession, but there you have it .

But sometimes watching and listening is engaging. What is happening around you? It can be better than any TV show you can imagine.

I managed to spend a couple of days in Buenos Aires at the end of my Antarctica trip. This is the third time I have visited the city and I love the Recoletta area. We have a favourite restaurant that we love to go to which is famous in the area and unbelievably cheap. Well of course that’s the root of the problem.  Inflation is so high in Argentina at the moment and the government is working to try and make things a little better. But in the meantime the peso is really worth nothing.  1000 peso to one US dollar .

Anyway, this was a buzzy kind of restaurant and people watching is a fun thing to do. But then we noticed this one particular guy hanging around near the bar, constantly on his cell phone and then every so often he would take out a big chunk of money which was all wrapped up in elastic bands and he would sort of count them. I can imagine that you know he was probably counting them in tens of US dollars because there was so many of them. The peso is so low. We were intrigued. Who is this guy. It was like watching something out of one of those mafia films that we see. Was he taking bribes. He couldn’t have been doing anything illegal because the police were in and out. Apparently this is a good resting spot for them and they get preferential treatment when they come in for a coffee or a bite to eat .

After a lot of debating and watching and pondering we came to the conclusion that this is something that the restaurant possibly has to do because of the rapid change in the cost of living. So as the restaurant collects pesos then they have to very quickly get that down to the supplier to buy up fresh produce before the price goes up again.

Imagine having to run a business like that?

Well it made for an interesting afternoon full of wild speculation. 

Back and forth he went, big chunks of money wrapped up in rubber bands and on his cell phone the whole time. It was absolutely fascinating .

And unfortunately it is not something new to this world. I remember when my friend in Zimbabwe went to buy an airline ticket to come to Canada and she had to take cash with her and by the time she got to her place in the long lineup where she could purchase the ticket, the price had gone up by nearly another 20%. Just in the short time that she was awaiting. That’s what happened to the currency .

I guess there’s a couple of lessons here. Number one. I’m not a politician nor am I an economist and actually I’m really bad at math so it wouldn’t be good to put me in charge of anything like that.  

Number two keep your eyes and ears open when you travel. It’s fascinating. The stories you can weave!

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2 Responses

    1. Hi Tamera,
      It is La Biela right next to the Recoleta Cemetary. Lots of atmosphere and amazingly cheap!
      Have a wonderful trip – let me know how it goes.
      Lesley

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The Travel Lady Blog

The Travel Lady

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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