Fizzy drinks and clean money

Hi all. Sorry the long silence, we were away: couple days in the childrens’ home, followed by nearly a week at the Latin Link Argentina team conference, followed by couple more days in the childrens’ home. Now we’re back. It’s a testament to the strength of local community here that when I went shopping for food yesterday morning, the lady in the veg shop said “We’ve missed you all this time”. When since did anyone in Tesco or any other “friendly local hypermarket” even notice, let alone give a monkeys, that I didn’t show up for a week or two?
I’m a little concerned that the blog entry that’s generated the most response has been the one about toilets… But I probably shouldn’t be really… after all if you were posh you probably wouldn’t be friends with us or reading our blog in the first place. Today I’m afraid I don’t have a toilet story. But I do have two pieces of good advice for your next visit to Argentina. One: buy soda. Two: don’t get a bank account.

On soda. We’ve just discovered soda. It’s great. Soda gets delivered to the door, by a guy called a “Sodero”, from a little truck (remember the British milk float?). It costs 50 centavos (that’s 9pence) for a litre and a quarter. It comes in a reusable bottle thus eliminating plastic waste, just hand it back and they swop it for a full one. It has a proper valve so it never loses its gas. It can be mixed with all manner of things to create your own range of fizzy drinks with as many or few calories as you like. And you never need to pay another penny to those evil Pepsi / Coca Cola empires again. Perfect.

On bank accounts. To be fair I’ve only been twice, so it might not be a fair test. The first time I had to pay in 30 pesos to someone’s account (£6). I stood in the queue that said deposits, until they told me that this was only for large deposits, so I stood in the queue for small deposits, until they told me that I needed the correct change, so I stood in the queue for general services, where they told me that they don’t give change here (“but you’re a bank….”). Luckily at this point the security guard took pity on me, and wrangled change out of someone from a back office. Third piece of advice: Security guards are the most knowledgeable members of staff, don’t be put off by the gun. The second time we had to pay in 200 pesos to someone else’s account in a different bank. We had been given a CBU number, which we were assured was the magic number we would need. So we asked the security guard which queue to join; the general one. The lady said “that’s fine, you can go straight to the cashier”. The cashier said “I can’t do this without an account number, you’ll need to take a ticket to see the man at the desk to find out the account number”. The man at the desk said “I can’t do this, I’ll take you to see another man at the other end who can find out the account number”. The man at the other end found out the account number, and he handed it to us, on a print out containing the other person’s personal information, including every detail pertaining to the account with their recent transactions and current funds available, and sent us with this in our hands back to the cashier to pay our money in.

Moral of the story? Stick to soda, it’s safer.

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