Suitcase on wheels     stuck in the snow   sniffer dog

Monday, March 14, 2005

22. Faked out (B.A, Argentina)

On Thursday I moved into another guesthouse that a Scottish friend Duncan found. How he found it I don't know, as it's not listed in any of the guidebooks or well known at all. It's pretty much across the road from Etty's House where I stayed for 2 weeks in January. There's no signage or anything so it's not obvious its a guesthouse. So I'm back in the Congreso neighbourhoood, which I don't really like, and it's pretty much the same as Etty's House was, i.e. a lady is renting rooms to tourists and students in her house, but Arahaus is much nicer and cheaper; I've got my own room with a double bed for $350 pesos a month. Compare that with around $500 pesos for a dorm bed sharing with 4 others in a hostel at Tango Backpackers. But best of all, the only other people staying there are 2 Argentine girls my age, so I've finally been getting to practise my Spanish. Friday was a great day, I went and checked out La Boca (another one of the touristy areas of town) with Steve from SE Asia and with Ruth, a girl from the hostel, and since Ruth speaks no English Steve and I mostly spoke in Spanish when we could. That night we went out, and although the night was crap party-wise since as usual we couldn't find a party and we had to wander the streets, I had fun being an interpreter between Ruth and her friends and an Irish couple we'd met.
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Random pic: More bank protesters. Most of them are over 50
One of the bemusing things here is often when you pay for something the cashier will quickly inspect the bill - even with a ten peso bill. And now I know why:
When I moved hostel I took a cab from Palermo to Congreso and paid the $10 peso fare with a $50. He gave me my change, part of which I used to pay for my room in Hebe's house. After I'd paid her I noticed one of the ten peso bills I had left was a bit dodgy looking. The print on the bill was ever so slightly blurred. So I showed Hebe and she thought the same, we checked the other bills I'd paid her with and sure enough, the taxi driver had given me a fake $20 and two fake $10s as change. I was pretty pissed off, especially as it's quite obvious they were fakes. But I had my suitcaseonwheelsn and bags with me so was in a hurry to get out of the cab and into the guesthouse. The prick even shook my hand and wished me luck with a big smile on his face. He had a bill-holder full of bills too, obviously fakes.
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Random pic: The oldest tagger you'll ever see, protesting at the bank
So there it is, in the past two weeks I've fallen to the two of the infamous South American tourist traps - cop bribery, and fake bills. I managed to offload one of the tens to another cab driver and another in a bar, now I'm just stuck with the twenty which will always be subject to slightly more scrutiny than the tens. I think I'll keep it in my back pocket for the next time I have to bribe a cop...
Listening to:


  • just hope the cop doesn't notice - Bribary AND fake currency - that'll get you a bit of the old Midnight Express treatment down at the station!

    By Blogger Hamiltron Stu, at 11:25 AM  

  • Hey I just read this blog (it comes up in the search engines; that's why I'm reading it so long after you wrote). Why was I searching for, well, "Argentina counterfeit currency??" A somewhat more severe version of the same happened to me. And although there are some warnings in different places about looking out for fake notes from taxi drivers, it would be nice if there were more warnings. So here's mine.

    In my case, the meter read just over what I had in small bills so I had to pay with a $50. I'm pretty sure my note was good, but hadn't been thinking about it - it was 4am and I was coming home from a club. So the driver says it's a fake and hands what I now believe was another note back to me. I give him another - at this point confused and distracted at the notion that I had somewhere picked up a false note. He says something about it also being suspect so I give him a $100 asking if he can change that. He takes it and pretends to look around for change. Says he doesn't have change and hands it back to me, finally accepting a $10 I had even though the meter read almost $15. All this happening pretty quickly and I'm preoccupied by my incomprehension of where I got the false note.

    Short - he switched $200 pesos for counterfeit right in front of me, and I let him because I was preoccupied. I suspect there was a bit of slight of hand at work, too, but still... I had no idea until today when I went out and no one would take any of my bills anywhere, and in daylight I could clearly see why.

    Moral - check your notes before giving them to anyone, and keep a close eye on them, so if they try to slip a false note back claiming it was yours, you can catch them at it.

    As for trying to pass the fakes off on someone else - even taxi drivers or barmaids - well, I don't want that much bad karma following me around. These fakes are mine to keep as an expensive lesson, and I'm sure the taxi driver will get his due in the end, too.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:08 AM  

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