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Friday, September 17, 2010

Attack of the Automatic Teller Machines

Buenos Aires has several rites of passage for those living in the city who wish to cross over from simply being a travelling tourist to someone who is living like a local. And one of those rites of passage that is part of the initiation process is when you feel sweaty palms and your heart racing as the ATM tells you that your card does not work.

Things get tricky when it comes to accessing your money in a third world country. Basically, you cannot open a bank account in Argentina unless you are a permanent resident. So for day to day living, you have to rely on cash or your bank card for funds. You can bring up to $10 000 USD into Argentina. Keep in mind that as of Dec 29, 2010 there is now a reciprocity fee for Australians, Canadians, and Americans coming into the country. You will be required to pay about $100 USD to enter the country if you are a citizen of any one of these nations. The first time I landed in the country was before that policy was in place so I did not have to pay. But traveling on an Australian passport, I will have to pay this new fee this time around.

But back to the subject of ATMS, it is one of those things about the city that can be wonderful yet annoying at the same time. It's wonderful in the sense that there are ATMS are around every corner and you need not to walk far to find one. But it can also be annoying in the sense that when you stick your card in an ATM that you haven't used before, there isn't a 100% guarantee that it is going to work.

If this is the case, you there are one of two ways to respond. The first is to stay calm and keep telling yourself that there is another ATM in the city that will work while you scour the city for an ATM that seems to be in a better mood than the one you first tried. Or when you are unable to access your money, you can respond the exact same way that young Kevin did in this famous and unforgettable scene from "home alone"

Mind you, I have actually tried both responses. Upon encountering a stubborn ATM that refuses to cough up my precious dough, my response tends to be like Kevin in this movie. It's a fun way to respond but it really doesn't do much in the way of getting me close to my funds abroad. So when my mini temper tantrum is done and I finish stomping my feet and snorting like a bull that's running wild in one of  Spain's bullfights, it is then that I collect myself and pick up whatever dignity I have left and continue my search for an ATM who is ready to welcome me with arms open wide.

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