March 2019

Money is the absolute necessity for travel. Not just any money, you understand, but the money of the country you visit. Some people believe there is only one currency in the European Union. Based on the 2018 internet information, twenty-eight nations comprise the EU, of which eighteen are part of the Eurozone using the euro as their monetary base. Six countries use the euro although they aren’t part of the EU. Having a sufficient amount of a particular currency when traveling between countries that do use the euro and those that do not can be challenging. Examples we’ve confronted are Sweden, which uses the krona, and Finland, which uses the euro; and England, which uses the pound, and Ireland, which uses the euro.

We had an interesting monetary experience on a Hurtigruten working ship in Norway where they use krones. Snowy, blustery weather caused cancellation of our planned overnight snowmobile trip from one port to another. The finance officer had already charged it to our credit card. When Jim tried to correct our bill, the officer said Visa would not permit them to remove the charge because it was international. They wanted to reimburse us in krones, but Jim insisted on United States dollars. They scrounged around for dollars among the crew, some as low as five dollar bills. Jim agreed to accept the difference in Norwegian money and made the exchange at the Copenhagen airport. He was very uncomfortable carrying so much money on his person until we got home.

Money woes in Argentina may haunt us forever. We’ve traveled there a couple of times (on our way to Antarctica and, later, to Patagonia) and each trip left a money memory, one pleasant, one not.

December weather is very hot, definitely ice cream time. In one walk around Buenos Aires, we stopped at Feddors, a chain ice cream store. Surprisingly, no one there spoke English and we didn’t recognize the varieties. Finally, I simply pointed to something that looked like mint. Jim chose a different one and we shared. We have no idea what we ate, but both were tasty and cooling. What more could we ask?

The less pleasant, in fact daunting, incident occurred on our second trip. Argentina’s financial situation was just coming to notice. We had obtained enough Argentine pesos at the airport to last several days intending to find an ATM machine. We found several but none accepted our travel card. Being in an area where cash was necessary, and we were low, was scary. When we finally found a machine that would accept our card, Jim obtained enough to be sure we could cover all possible contingencies. In the Miami airport on our return, we learned that action was not the best. He tried to exchange the pesos for dollars and learned the United States would not accept any exchange from Argentina (also a couple other South American countries) because of the financial situation. If we ever return to Argentina (not expected), we have a supply of their pesos. Peggy’s law: Of course, if they ever get their financial business under control, their monetary base will probably have changed, so the money we have now will be worthless.

The money situation in Ecuador is unlike any we’ve experienced elsewhere. The Ecuadorean dollar has the same value as the United States dollar. The resemblance ends there because the bills and coins are different in both appearance and size. When we received change after a purchase, we invariably received some of their money and some of ours. That was convenient because we would always spend their money first, thereby relieving us of the necessity of standing in an always long line at the exchange desk when we returned to the United States. That is, of course, if the desk is still open when we arrive, not always the case, so we’ve had to deal with local banks, some of which don’t supply that service.