Today is our last totally free day. Tomorrow we leave, but have much of that day since our jet doesn’t depart until 11:30PM. We also signed up for a Tango dancing show and dinner for later in the evening. My friend had arranged to have free transportation to a leather specialty shop from the hotel later in the afternoon.
We decided to explore the Jewish section of Buenos Aires which was close to the our hotel and have lunch. After a short look around we would return to the hotel in time for the leather shop pick up. I decided I needed a rest and relief for my aching feet. I took this photo of my hotel on the way back. With all the walking I wondered why we hadn’t tried the subway system. I went down into the nearby station to take a look for myself. It seemed modern and clean and certainly no worse than New York’s.
My friend was picked up by leather goods shop as arranged. They pick up buyers at their hotel and return them afterwards. My friend returned in the afternoon with a horror story. The merchandise was not the problem, but the means to pay for it was. It is a major problem in Argentina, which has nightmarish inflation and unchecked debt. Their currency valuation fluctuates wildly, and sellers are reluctant to sell their goods for Argentinian pesos or with credit cards. While we were in Buenos Aires the official rate was about 8.5 pesos to a dollar, but street rate (called blue dollars) was 12 pesos to a dollar. In the week we were there, it got as high as 14:1. On the first day there we were offered blue rate exchange by the hotel bell hops. All under the table, of course, since the hotel would not give “blue rates”. With nearly a 50% difference in value for the dollar, who wouldn’t? It’s almost acceptable to get” blue dollars”. Credit card acceptors are required by the government to use the official rate. As a result, the store wanted real American dollars for their goods. They will drive you to an ATM to get real dollars with your credit card!! They drove for about 20 minutes only to find the ATM machine was empty!! A bank was tried, but they had a limit on dollars they would give and if you met that requirement, they attached a hefty 30% fee to any credit card useage. Needless to say, the sale was cancelled; and only a minor purchase (for real American dollars) was made.
That evening we were picked up at the hotel by the Tango/dinner show package by a company called El Viejo Almacen. They have been around since 1969 and seek to preserve old style tango. We signed up for pick up at 7:30PM, I think. In Argentina, dinner is routinely around 9:00PM at night, which can be disconcerting for North Americans who think of dinner time as around 6:00PM. So 8:00PM was not bad. Our party consisted of ourselves and a French couple. Since, we were not part of a tour group, there weren’t many of us.
The dinner was fine, and afterward we were shunted across the street to the performance hall. This venue had been there since the 1970’s, so this was a well-established performance crew. Because we were not part of large tour group we were seated off to the side but near the stage. It was a great location from which to photograph. The tango dance troupe was lively and athletic. There was also a South American Indian music band as well. See the videos and photos below.
Tango Dancing Video
Assemble Tango Dancing