Monday, April 8, 2013

Dolar Blue and Dakar Motos

Day 160 (March 25, 2013)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Day's Ride: 27 Miles

I had a couple of things to take care of this morning. First things first: dolar blue. "Dolar blue" is what the Argentinians call the black market for American Dollars. Currently, the official exchange rate is around 5.10 Pesos per dollar. The Dolar Blue rate is somewhere around 8 to 8.5 Pesos for the dollar. So, if you have some hundred dollar bills, you stand to make a little money. Of course, because the Argentinian Peso is so inflationary, no one wants to buy pesos. So, once you've made the change, you better hope you calculated correctly cause' you aren't going to be changing those Pesos back to greenbacks.

I talked to some people at the hostel and and asked them where I could find someone to change my money. They told me to go down to Florida street and just walk around. There would be tons of people just standing on the street calling out, "Cambio, cambio, cambio!".

So I went to Florida street....

Sure enough, as soon as I turned on to the street, I ran into about 10 different people offering to buy dollars from me. I hunted around for a bit, trying to get the best rate. People where trying to offer me 8. I just laughed and moved to the next one. I had seen on the news a few days ago that the Dolar Blue was at 8.45. I mentioned this too a few cambiodores and they told me that I could get that rate if I wanted to change over a $1,000. So I lowered my expectations a little and found a few who said that they would give 8.20. I played them off of each other for a minute and finally one of them buckled and said he would do 8.25. Sold!

He told me to follow him and we walked into a nearby hotel and took the elevator to the first floor. This seemed a little shady, so I slipped my knife out of my pocket and palmed it up into my sleeve. We stepped out, walked down the hall a little ways and stopped in front of this hotel room door. There's this big goomba looking bouncer type standing there in a rumbled suit with a little radio earpiece tucked into his ear. Whoa, now I'm feeling like I'm about to walk into this hotel room and get shaken down.

My cambio guy opens the door and we walk into a hotel room that has been converted into a pretty legit looking money exchange place, complete with bullet-proof glass, wall safes, ticker screens, and shady looking tellers. Actually, the shady tellers didn't look too legit....I still had the distinct feeling that I was about to be robbed.

In any event, I stepped up to the glass and told my teller what I had and what I wanted. He stepped back, talked to his cohorts, came back to the glass and told me that he could only give me 8.20. I told him that that was BS, the guy who had just walked me in here had told 8.25. He said sorry, 8.20 was all he could give. I just smiled, said adios, and started to leave. He then told me okay, he would give me the extra .05.

So, I walked out of there with a fistful of pesos, said chao to the goombah, and hit the street. I would have taken a picture, but I get the distinct feeling that that would have been frowned upon.

I was walking back along Florida street when who should I see but the overlander couple whom I had met with Mike in La Paz and then seen again a few weeks ago in El Calafate.

It's so odd how you can just run into people randomly across an entire continent. We talked for a bit, I told them about my "Dolar Blue" experience, we exchanged emails, and then parted ways.

I walked back to the hostel, ate a little lunch then started getting ready to over to Dakar Motos to talk to them about shipping back to the States and possibly find a used tire and a welder.

After a little bit of confusion navigating through Buenos Aires, I finally found the shop. Sandra and Javier, the owners, were extremely helpful and explained the whole air shipping process to me and detailed the costs. I decided to pull the trigger and use them for shipping as they seemed to have the cheapest rates and most clear cut outline of what I needed to do. I still can't get over the fact that airfreight from Buenos Aires to Portland, OR is cheaper than ocean freight from Vallaparaiso to Portland, OR.

I then asked Javier if he had any used tires that he wanted to sell. He dug through his stock and pulled out a half used Metzler for me. It was a little smaller than the one that I currently had on but I figured it would work just fine. Plus, he sold it to me for 200 Pesos so I couldn't really argue about the price. Plus, he let me use his shop to do the tire change.

While I was working on the tire, I asked him if he knew of any welders. I showed him where my luggage rack was cracking and he said that he could take care of that himself. Before I could even get the tire back on he had re-welded my rack. What an awesome guy!

After I finished putting the tire back on, we sat around and talked for a while. Sandra even gave me some coffee. Javier and Sandra are awesome! I finally said my goodbyes and headed back to the Hostel.

So now I've got a shipping date (April 4) and a loose idea of what I'm going to do. I plan on staying one more day in BA, then heading up to Uruguay for a week or so to hang out on the beach, work on my tan, and take a vacation from my vacation. Then, I'm going to head back to BA on the 3rd, take the bike to the airport on the 4th, and hopefully fly back to the states by 8th or the 9th. It's so crazy actually having a fairly solid timeline now! I don't know if I like this.

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