argentina: legal again

US passport, stamps

A long time since the last update but with good reason. I just got back from a quick Uruguay trip to renew my passport stamp. I’m officially in Argentina as a tourist which allows for a 90-day stay. Every time those 90 days expire, I have to travel outside of Argentina & return again to obtain a new entry stamp. Sounds like a hassle but with work trips to Europe, it usually isn’t a problem.

bond, Federal, Entre Ríos

Fabio & I went first to Gualeguaychú (walleh-why-CHU), north of Buenos Aires in the province of Entre Ríos. With around 60,000 people, this small town contrasts greatly with the capital. All older houses are single-story, colonial-style buildings & many have French-inspired decorative touches. Visible signs of the economic crisis were not as omnipresent as in Buenos Aires with fewer vacant storefronts in the main shopping district. On a per capita basis however, perhaps closures were similar to those in Buenos Aires. The bond-as-currency in Entre Ríos is the federal (see scan above) & many businesses posted signs saying they accept this as payment. Gualeguaychú has a wonderful park with river views, even though parts were flooded due to recent heavy rainfall. The frescos on the cathedral ceiling were nice too.

Argentina, Entre Ríos, Gualeguaychú

Next stop: Fray Bentos, Uruguay, about an hour from Gualeguaychú crossing the River Uruguay. I fell in love with this town’s quiet and relaxed attitude, beautiful houses & friendly people. Autumn seemed to be the perfect time to visit because it added something special to the air. But obviously Argentina is not the only South American country with economic problems at the moment. Two ATMs exist in Fray Bentos, only one of which is connected to the worldwide banking network. Finding it empty brought back bad memories of Buenos Aires & that constant hunt for cash. The woman working in the post office where the ATM was located said every day as soon as they replace the cash, people line up to take it all out. We then went to the bank to see what the exchange rate was for pesos: $1 = $4 pesos uruguayos. It used to be $13 before devaluation! No one wants Argentine pesos. We managed to find someone on the street willing to exchange at a better rate so we could at least eat some lunch.

Uruguay, Fray Bentos

That same day we took a bus to Mercedes, Uruguay. Similar but not as charming as Fray Bentos in my opinion —mainly due to the quantity of motor scooters. Still, the central plaza was nice. We had difficulty finding a decent hotel, but we had a great dinner that night. The next morning I took pics of the river encroaching on the town. All the riverside park sat underwater, & the archeology museum was inaccessible. We had a good lunch at the fancy new bus station before heading back to Argentina.

Uruguay, Mercedes

In order to break up the long bus ride home, we got off in Gualeguaychú again & walked along the river at sunset. Great photo op. So after three days of small town charm, I was legal again! This was also my first trip with the digital camera, & I had zero problems. Loving this new technology.

Argentina, Entre Ríos, Gualeguaychú

[Originally posted in Argentina Experienced, a website I created to document living in Buenos Aires after the 2001 economic crisis. Text has been edited for style. Definitions of econ terms can be found in the glossaryPolitician biographies may help, as well as a summary of recent history & current events.]

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