We skipped our bike tour plans for today and rescheduled for tomorrow. Our immediate challenge today = cash
As I mentioned yesterday, use your credit card here and get a terrible exchange rate. Find a place to buy pesos with $USD and you get a huge difference in rate.
So after a long night (wine induced insomnia) we were off to find a cambio. We took a shot at an official bank. The line was long with locals and the posted exchange rate was 8.5 pesos per $USD. But what happened next was most intriguing.
David and Devlin went to the teller and said they wanted to buy some pesos with US Dollars. And they unofficially gave us 12.5 pesos per $USD. We traded crisp $100s and the machine at the teller station spit out wads of Argentine cash. It all seemed very legit, except our receipt was from a calculator machine. Again, win-win. And that was easier than expected.
We really did relax today, walked a lot, and ate our share of empanadas. Photos below. Temps were perfect, mid-80’s and very dry.
We are all in agreement that Mendoza is by far dirtier than Santiago. There is trash everywhere despite the presence of bins. The sidewalks are dirty and littered. The graffiti is destructive and not artfully expressive as we saw west of the mountains.
And it’s not that we are not enjoying the city, it’s just different. English I suspect is widely spoken, but if you try in Spanish they will continue without hesitation. It has been great for Devlin and he has used it proficiently throughout.
I have included a photo of an irrigation ditch as an example of what lines both sides of the streets here. The city is irrigated from Andes mountain runoff, and the trees are full and green, and provide much needed shade from the heat. Unfortunately I haven’t seen one yet that doesn’t have its share of litter. Too bad. The trees must not mind.
Another item to note is the population of Argentina in general. Of the approximately 40 million people here, there is a population of more than 26 million with Italian roots. This explains why folks here say “Ciao!” when you leave and not “Adios!” The Italian population in Argentina is the second highest in the world outside of Italy. Only Brazil has more (by numbers but not percentage).
Tomorrow the busses run infrequently so we booked a taxi to take us to Maipú for a bike ride through some wine and olive countryside. We may tour a brewery and chocolate shop as well. I just want an escape from city environment, and we need more views of the area and amazing mountains.
Because everything is closed for the holiday tomorrow, and likely Thursday, we have dinner reservations for Christmas Eve here at the hotel. We are not sure what we will do on Christmas Day other than explore some great parks here on foot. San Martin Park is our must-do list for Thursday.
Happy Christmas Eve Eve!