Too many little bills

En menos de dos meses el precio de la moneda estadounidense subió 104% frente al bolívar en el mercado negro, pues el pasado 13 de mayo el dólar cruzó la barrera de los 300 bolívares.

I was outraged when I saw how easy it is to register to vote here, vis-à-vis how it is abroad. If you live in another country, the list of papers that you have to hand in is so long, the time frames are so short, and the places where you can register are frequently so far away, that in a lot of cases you just can’t vote. But here, I just had to go to the closest subway station, make a  two hour  line, show my ID , and voilà ! I was done! I just couldn’t believe it!  So, if you are a Venezuelan expat, don’t feel guilty because you can’t vote!  (I’m saying it because I did feel guilty, but not anymore!).

Maybe what I’m going to say won’t be nice for everybody to hear, but I’ll say it anyway. I recently read a banner that said “Venezuela is the best country”. I immediately thought, no wonder so many Venezuelans are seen in Panama as smug people who look down on Panamanians. Because Venezuela, of course, is not the best country. The best country is a fantasy, it doesn’t exist, just as it doesn’t exist the “best person”.

I must say too, that Venezuela is not the only nation that thinks that it’s “the best”, a lot of others do, but what happens with that? Every expat knows it:  if you are in such a country, some people look down on you. So, now that we come from a country that is not “the best” , are people looking down on us? Unfortunately, although not everybody, I’ve noticed that some people do, as if Panama was a lesser country.

The dollar in the black market was – more or less – 600 bolivars yesterday (to know more, click on the image), so,  1000 Bs.  (The maximum amount of money that you can withdraw from an ATM machine at once),  is a little less than 2 US$  (I’m talking about my bank, but it’s similar with the other banks). Nevertheless,  you can repeat the procedure several times (only if you are in an ATM machine from your bank, otherwise the limit, is 1200 Bs.) until you get to the maximum allowed per day, which is 16000 Bs. This might seem non sense, but this is the reason: the pack of bills for 1000 Bs. is the thickest pack the machine can handle, so even if the dear ATM wanted to give you more than that at once, it just can’t because it wasn’t built for that.  But the people who programmed the machines don’t think you need any explanation, so what you read in the screen (if you want to withdraw 5000 Bs. or any amount bigger than 1000 Bs.) is “Sorry, we can’t deliver cash at this time”. So you’re all, “crap, this one doesn’t have cash either” (there is, along with everything else, a shortage of cash, so it’s not such a dumb assumption) until someone clarifies the misunderstanding telling you, “oh no, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have cash, it’s just that you requested for too much (too much?!) money; just ask for the maximum that the screen tells you”.

So that’s how I learned everything that I just explained, and that’s how I ended up only with 1000 Bs. in my pocket, because my patience had been worn out, and I just couldn’t  repeat the process four times more.

Til’ the next post…





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