The Colonia Dollar

Argentina’s currency is about as stable as Miley Cyrus. As a result, the Argentinian President/Glamour Puss, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, initiated a number of restrictions on currency exchange in an attempt to prop up the flailing peso.

After these restrictions were introduced, a black market emerged: You can exchange US$ at an official outlet for one price, or go to an unofficial trader and get it changed at the ‘blue’ rate, which puts around 40 or 50% more pesos in your pocket. ‘Blue’ because, whilst it is technically illegal, it is so commonplace.

So, the 1 hour ferry to Colonia, a small town in Uruguay situated on the opposite side of Rio de La Plata from Buenos Aires, is extremely busy. What makes this town so popular is that, unlike in Argentina, you can withdraw US Dollars from ATMs.

Dollar hungry tourists descend on the town daily. Most people have dozens of cards from friends, family and colleagues with orders to withdraw as many dollars as possible before returning to Buenos Aires.

This booming currency tourism gives Colonia a strange feel; made more bizarre by golf buggies being the most popular form of transport, and classic cars having been abandoned on many of the streets.

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