On Tuesday we experienced one of the quintessential things that happens to all foreigners living in Argentina: We ran out of US dollars. If you’ve read any of our previous posts, you should be well aware that this is a problem. When you don’t have dollars to exchange through informal channels, living in Buenos Aires quickly gets quite expensive. However, there exists a reasonably easy remedy to this dilemma—a ferry ride across the Rio de la Plata to neighboring Uruguay.
The city of Colonia del Sacramento makes for a lovely day trip, complete with colorful cobblestone streets, tranquil cafes and ice cream shops, a historic lighthouse and a plethora of ATM machines dispensing crisp US dollars.
It can be difficult for Argentines to obtain a Uruguayan bank account, however they often use credit cards to take out cash advances in US dollars. We had heard stories of the ATM’s actually running out of cash over the course of the day, so we beelined straight to a recommended bank after getting off the ferry. We were unsurprised to find a sizable line outside the bank. Luckily, we were able to withdraw cash (we later learned that they usually only run out on the weekends), but not before waiting for a few individuals to use many different bank cards at the machine, which limits withdrawals to $300 per account. One woman ahead of us in line spent a while at the machine withdrawing money, and then noticing how long the line had gotten, actually returned to the end of the line as a courtesy because she still had more cards to use. What a strange phenomenon!