Three long days to take the pesos out of ATMs

All we wanted were some pesos.

You'd think it wouldn't be that hard, would you? Well, you'd be wrong. So, so wrong. There are three ATM machines in our neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. We arrived at the first one.

We waited in a line outside the cubicle with the locals, the sun beating down on us, making the already horrific sunburn on the back of my neck sting. And we waited . . . and we waited.

Finally, it was our turn to go inside.

But this ATM decided it didn't like Mark - or his credit card at least. That's OK, we said, and trotted off in search of the next machine down the street. Hola! There it was, and no line. We went inside the cubicle, and found out why: "This machine is temporarily unavailable." Hmm.

All right, there's another ATM at the supermarket a few blocks down. While we're there we may as well get some bottled water, and maybe some dulce de leche since we're here. You can probably tell where this is heading. We walk inside, stroll over to the ATM, and push in the credit card. Too bad we can't understand ONE WORD on the screen. We're almost defeated, but then we remember that dulce de leche. We stroll through the store - which, as always, is an adventure in itself when you are away overseas - and pick up some bits, then head to the checkout aisles. I'd heard of island time, but I didn't realise it extended quite this far across the Pacific to, you know, outside of the islands.

Finally we get to the head of the queue, our items are scanned and bagged and the girl asks for Mark's ID. She can't use his credit card without it. We trudge back to the B&B empty handed.

But the next day is, surprise surprise, a new day. We set out for the ATMs again, this time armed with a credit card each and our drivers' licences. What could possibly go wrong this time?

Plenty. Every single ATM in this entire city could suddenly run out of money. Hope is fading fast, and it doesn't stop there. We head downtown to find the black-market peso-dollars exchange place (with an attractive rate of six to the dollar, instead of three), then promptly - we think at the time - get lost. Late that day we discover we were actually in the right place, we were just apparently walking right past it, over and over again.

At least this story has a happy ending. We finally got our hands on some dineros - three days later.

We haven't been in South America long, but already we have experienced a couple of pearlers. There was the time our B&B was given the wrong flight number, and our car didn't show up after we had endured more than 24 hours straight of travelling. (Mark's bad.)

There was the time we were oblivious to the fact that the Boca Juniors football gem we had booked and paid to go to, had a date change, and instead we spent the time lounging by the pool after a day exploring. (My bad.)

Ah, the joys of travelling in a foreign country. I guess you've just got to look at the silver lining: I've been called both a gringo and an Americano in a matter of hours, and I still haven't been robbed. Winning!

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