Fall in Mendoza

Fall in Mendoza
View outside our house

Monday, August 30, 2010

Answers to your questions

My good friend Patty sent me these questions from my last post, so I thought I would answer them in this blog.  Here goes:

When the cashier offers you veggies or candy instead of change which one do you choose?
Hmmmmm.  Actually, I don't have a choice.  The candy vs. veggie dilemma was not at the same store.  At the veggie stand, they just give you an extra item of what you were buying.  So if I was buying some tomatoes, they may throw in a few extra tomatoes.  The candy that was offered was at a neighborhood grocery store.  Again, you don't get to choose your candy.  They have a jar of candy and the cashier just digs in and gives you a handful.  Think of it as the Give a Penny, Take a Penny tray convenience stores have at the states.

Do you have fast food places like Wendy's? Arby's or McDonalds?

Here in Mendoza, we have Subways and McDonalds as far as fast food places that can be found in the states.  The city is full of hot dog joints.  Hot dogs (called Panchos) are the fast food favorite of the locals.  Unfortunately, these hot dogs are not very good.  The one item they put on hot dogs that is strange to us is Potato Sticks.  They put a handful of these on your hot dog.  Makes the hot dog a bit better...just a bit.

Hot Dog with Potato Sticks!

The malls do have other "Fast Food" places that are franchise type of places that can be found throughout the country.  These place serve the local fare, like Lomitos = steak sandwhiches, burgers, pizza, etc.

I am sure that in the capital, Buenos Aires, there are a lot more American fast food places.  We are planning a trip there, and will report back.

Do you have a mall? 
Yes, there are two major malls in Mendoza.  They look just like any mall in America.  They have food courts, movie theaters with stadium seating and some department stores.  Of course the stores are all South American branded stores.

Do you have cable?
We have Direct TV in our house.  It is just like Direct TV in the states, only difference is that the channels are not the same.  For instance, there is no ABC, CBS, FOX or NBC affiliate.  We do get most of the shows that these channels offer in the states, the difference is that there are on different channels.  

With that said, most of the shows are at least one season behind the states.  We are now seeing shows that were shown during the spring in the U.S.  HBO shows are only a week behind.  So this past Sunday, they showed last weeks True Blood episode.

Direct TV allows you to choose your language for most channels.  Some channels are in English only with Spanish subtitles.  There are a few channels in Spanish only.  Direct TV has the NFL package so I won't miss a game!!

Do you have english speaking channels?

See above.

What kind of health care do you have?
None right now.  I am not a resident of the country yet, so I cannot get health coverage.  For residents and citizens, there is free health care.  Unfortunately, the free health care is not always the quickest way to get treated.  There are health plans that can be purchased from different hospitals or associations.  The good thing is that if your employer does not offer the health care plan you want, you can choose from any plan you want.

When will it be summer?

It is getting ready to be spring here.  Basically, when it is winter in North America, it will be summer here.

What or where do you go for entertainment?

We play with sticks and rocks for entertainment!  

NAH!  We watch TV, go to the movies or watch current U.S. shows on the internet.  We also go out with friends for drinks, etc.  Major difference is that we don't have too many friends yet, so we tend to entertain ourselves.  Our Argentinean friends, have families and don't have tons of disposable income, so they don't go out much.  

We have friends from an Expat group that we are members of that, we go to happy hour with, etc.  There is always stuff to do around the house.  Plus, we will be busy trying to start our catering company and looking for different ways to make money.  

What do you do when you can't find sugar or other staples?

Nothing.  If one place is out of something, you just keep looking around.  Most of the times, we buy extra sugar and other staples in case there is a shortage.  Usually, if there is a shortage, it only lasts a few days at the most.

Are people in Mendoza interested in America

They are fascinated by America.  They always ask a ton of questions.  They are incredibly friendly people.  Most question asked is, what are you doing here?  I will blog about their fascination with America on a later blog.

I know Patty has a lot more questions to come, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Don't throw your change in a Piggy Bank!

So shopping in Argentina is always an adventure.  I won't even get into the decision-making process of figuring out if something is expensive or not relative to U.S. currency...that is another post.

No, the adventure really starts and ends at the cashier.  Here is an example of a typical exchange with a cashier in Argentina while buying veggies:

Cashier:  That will be $16.37
Me:        OK.  Here is a $20.
Cashier:  Um...do you have $.40?
Me:        No, sorry.
Cashier:  How about $2?
Me:         Let me check...nope.
Cashier:  Well I don't have any change.  Can I give you an extra tomato for the difference in change?
Me:         Um...sure

You read correct.  Sometimes instead of change...as in coins, you will get a variety of things.  Here are all of the things that I have been given instead of change:

  • Tomato
  • Candy
  • Carrots
  • Red Pepper
  • Cones for ice cream
  • No change at all
Can you imagine going to your local big box grocery chain and getting an apple as change?  This blew me away the first time I encountered this.  It seems that there is a shortage of coins in the country.  Now this is not an official decree, just my observation.

In fact, there seems to be a shortage of all types of currency in Argentina.  Be it coins or paper bills.  We were at a big box retailer buying some groceries and the cashier asked the guy behind me if he had a two peso bill to lend her, so she could give it to me.  He said sure and off we went with our change and groceries.  What happened next was wild...she rang him up and give him a two peso discount for the money he had lent her!!!

So here are the coins that Argentina has in circulation.  Now I have yet to see a 1 centavo coin.  As a matter of fact, I was here two months before I saw a 5 centavo coin.  When you give cashiers correct change, they almost sing your praises.  They thank you with the biggest smile you have ever seen.

Circulating coins

DenominationObverse      Reverse1 centavoMoneda Argentina 1 centavo ARS.jpg5 centavosMoneda Argentina 5 centavos ARS.jpg10 centavosMoneda Argentina 10 centavos ARS.jpg25 centavosMoneda Argentina 25 centavos ARS.jpg50 centavosMoneda Argentina 50 centavos ARS.jpg1 pesoMoneda Argentina 1 peso ARS.jpg

I am waiting for the day that I go to pay for something with a $100 and they have no change and I will not be able to make my purchase.  I know it will happen.

Below are the paper currency in Argentina.  To me, the $100 is like the twenty dollar bill in the U.S.  It is what you whip out the most.

Remember kids, the exchange rate for one U.S. dollar is almost four Argentine pesos, so whipping out a $100 bill is not a big deal.  Now later I will post a Blog on what you can buy for the equivalent of $1 U.S.

For now I keep savings my coins, for tomorrow I will bring a smile and joy to an unsuspecting cashier!