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Published: June 16th 2017
Geo: -34.5911, -58.4137
It all started when I wanted to do a nice thing for Maria. I decided to wash all the bedding and towels and fold them neatly because she has been so good to us. She's letting us leave our bags in the apt. until our bus leaves tonight and that's a really big deal. It would be so difficult to drag them all over town all day.
The problem began when I realized how many coins it would take to run the washer and dryer. Coins seem to be scarce and shop owners hesitate to give them up. They'll even charge you a peso less so they don't have to give up a coin. So Karen and I went to the nearest bank, but unlike our banks, you can't just walk in and approach a teller. You had to take a number and be called up to a window.
You walk in and there's no one there to help you. Customers are milling about or sitting waiting, but there don't appear to be any employees anywhere. We heard a number being called but couldn't see any little ticket dispenser to pick one up at.
This was the hardest part: knowing you needed the number and then finding out how to get one. Fortunately a kind customer guided us to the computer screen and started punching in answers to about a dozen different questions. Finally he got us a number but by then the clerk was back and asked if she could help us.
She and Karen talked back and forth for awhile and finally she got the idea. Coins! she said. Here! and she went to the computer screen, punched in a bunch of different answers and handed us a different number.
We went to the back of the bank where people were waiting for their number to show up on the screen---we had no idea if it was going to be 10 minutes or 3 hours. Fortunately it was closer to 10 minutes and Karen finally got to talk to a teller.
In order to get 15 pesos in coins, she had to show the clerk which coins she wanted and how many of each, then drop the money into a little security drawer where the clerk could retrieve it. The teller put the coins into a plastic bag and sent them back through the security drawer. We're talking about $2.00 here.
All that to wash a load of clothes.
Although their systems seem crazy to us, it's their country and they get to decide. We just have to figure out how it works because it's rarely logical.
And now we're off to Cordoba, the second largest city in Argentina. More later.
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