I’ve just spent several weeks travelling in Argentina. A huge and fascinating country. By all accounts it should be a wealthy country; it has heaps of resources and a well educated population. But it’s not at all well off; its economy is stuffed! There is rampant inflation, 3 tier (at least) exchange rates and everyone wants US dollars because their peso isn’t worth anything. There’s an official exchange rate, but it’s not much so they have what they call a “blue” market rate through hotels and private institutions which is a better rate and the “black” market rate from people on the main shopping streets touting the best exchange rate for $US. However, this black market rate is highly risky. We caught a ferry across to Uruguay on a Saturday morning, it was packed. We found out later that it was Argentinians going across to get $US out of the money machines and take back and sell on the black market, or simply trade in $US. It’s so confusing.
Everyone blames the government, apparently it’s totally corrupt. They just seem to accept this as a fact of life. When I suggested to someone that a majority of people must have voted for them I got a list of stories about how the president had “bought” the country people with give-aways. E.g. they purchased the television soccer rights, so everyone could watch soccer for free on TV every week! Which in a soccer mad country, has been a major coup.
Travelling always makes me thankful to live here in New Zealand. This trip also made me realise that, no matter how much we moan about our various governments, it’s great to live in a stable and relatively simple economic environment. And while we’re still not seeing much evidence of our so called “rockstar” economy here in Wellington, there are many places where it’s so much worse.
They do make great (and cheap) wine though.