Today, I had one task to accomplish. I needed to go to Banco Piano and get some cash. Not all banks in Latin America will give cash advances against credit cards. In fact, I had a challenging time in Patagonia—at least after leaving Chile. I couldn't get cash in Ushuaia or in El Calafate. It's a good thing I had brought plenty of Chilean pesos with me after leaving Chile. I was able to change those for Argentine pesos. I also had some US dollars that I changed after I ran out of Chilean pesos to change. In Buenos Aires, however, Banco Piano is the answer. Hand them your credit card and passport, tell them what you want—in either pesos or dollars—sign on the dotted line, and you're set.
(Of course, the ideal solution, typically, is to have a PIN for your credit or debit card. Then you can just get money from an ATM. The reason I haven't been doing it that way is because my debit card got stolen by some bastard a few months back, and I don't have a PIN for my replacement credit card. Hopefully, I'll be getting a special package in the mail next week and it will include a debit card with a PIN.)
After waiting in line for my turn at the teller window, I did the above, and was then notified that my bank had declined the request. So, I proceeded out of the bank and tracked down a Locutorio—a place where you can make phone calls and use computers for Internet access. These are all over the place down here. I called my bank and found out that there is a limit of $1,000 per day. Now you may be asking yourself why I would need more than $1,000, or even anywhere near $1,000, in one shot. The reason is that the apartment I will be renting costs $550 per month and a one-month security deposit is required, for a grand total of $1,100. Did I forget to mention I'm going to be living in an apartment in Buenos Aires for at least one month?
A friend of mine in Portland, Oregon is also a software developer, needs some help with a current project, and I want to earn some extra money, so I'm going to be doing some work for him over the next few weeks. I really need a decent environment in which to work, ergo my own pad.
[Note: As I write this, I'm listening to Ricardo Arjona's album Quién Dijo Ayer, the disc I listened to countless times while freezing half to death all night long in the cab of the semi down in Patagonia. It brings back fond memories.]
There was a slight mist this morning as I went to the bank. In Washington, where I'm from, it mists all winter long. Most folks don't use an umbrella. As lightly as it usually rains, you barely get wet. Just throw on your jacket and go. Here in BA, apparently things are different. Many people were using umbrellas despite the very moderate amount of precipitation which was falling. I just threw on my shell—nothing more than a windbreaker with a hood—over the top of my fleece and went. No problem—except for almost getting my eye poked out numerous times by passing umbrellas. A few conscientious passersby would lift their weapons over the heads of traffic moving in the other direction, but not everyone was as astute. Thankfully, I made it through the day with both my LASIKized eyes in tact. Since my LASIK surgery a year-and-a-half ago, I'm a little more paranoid about my eyes. I'm more careful with them and more protective of them. Now I can wear cool sunglasses, too—major bonus.
I looked at an apartment yesterday which was quite decent. Tomorrow, I will check out another one. I like its location better. It's closer to the subte, to downtown, and to other things that I'll be doing on a regular basis. Both apartments are studios—pretty small, but plenty for my needs. The important things are a quiet work environment and good Internet access.
I'll keep you posted.