What a disastrous start to 2020. I was sure I would be 25,000 dollars richer by the end of 2019. The man from the future said it. How could a man from the future be wrong?
He had said one bitcoin would be worth 100,000 euro by the end of 2019. I have 0.25 of a bitcoin. I waited for midnight, and nothing happened. Then I thought maybe it was midnight New York time but no move.
I waited until the last place in the world celebrated New Years. American Samoa. I was devastated when bitcoin never moved. Then I thought maybe the man from the future did a typo. He has also said one bitcoin would be worth one million dollars at the end of 2020.
Feck 25,000. In just 12 months I will have 250,000 dollars. As bitcoiners say. We are going to the moonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.
Inflation in Argentina in 2019 was over 50%. A recent report showed that inflation had risen by 57.3% in a year and wages by 40.1%. A gap of 17.2% in the spending power of Argentinians.
It is difficult for me to see if prices are rising when I am here, but I did see it rise in one important way. In Cordoba, I found an Irish bar serving the best stout I had ever drunk outside of Ireland. It was locally brewed.
The first night I was there, the pint was 125 pesos. That is 1.90 euro. My next visit it had risen to 150 pesos. 2.25 Euro. As I consider myself to be a budget traveller, I drank a lot that night. I felt I was saving money by drinking more before it goes up again.
Inflation is nothing new to Argentinians. The average inflation rate since 1944 has been 200%. It peaked at 20262% in 1990. Even the lowest inflation rate of 7% in 1954 would be thought of as high in most countries.
It wasn’t always like this. In the early 20th century Argentina was one of the wealthiest counties in the world. Richer then France, Spain and Germany. |It was a creditor country. The U.K used to borrow money from Argentina.
In 1929 before the wall street crash, Argentina was still a wealthy country. In 1930 a military coup started was is known as the infamous decade. Violence, corruption and electoral fraud were the order of the day.
It all been downhill economically since. Peronism is named after the former president Juan Peron. People may also know his wife, the first lady Evita Peron.
Juan Peron was first elected in 1946. The Peronists main base was the unions, but he also appealed to industrialists Juan Peron was popular during the early part of his presidency.
As time got tougher, Juan Peron fell back on a tactic that has been a major problem ever since. He printed more money. Eventually, the military overthrew him.
Since then the Peronists have won 10 out 13 elections they have contested. As an outsider, it is difficult to understand why. They usually tank the economy. It may be because of their close relationship with unions and the agriculture industry. Also their readiness to start up the money printing machine.
A few weeks ago the Peronists retook power after 4 years in opposition. Are they the people to rescue Argentina? I have my doubts as the new vice president is the former President Cristina Kirchner. She had left the Argentine economy in bad shape when she left in 2015.
Since the 1930s Argentina has been in a recession 30% of the time. I think the best Argentina can hope for is a few ok years before the next recession in three years. In the meantime, I am drinking those pints as quickly as I can.
I had planned to arrive in Buenos Aires on the 08th of January. I then found out an old friend was in the city on the 05th. James from Brazil works as a pilot for a South American airline. He was flying to Buenos Aires on that Sunday. I changed my plans and headed for the city a few days early.
This was our third time meeting and in three different countries. The first night was on a cold winters night in Dublin. I had managed to get invited into the corporate box of billionaire Denis O’Brien in the Aviva Stadium for an Irish rugby game against one of the lower teams. I cannot remember who they were. It was that cold.
They were a Z list team, and I was a Z list guest for a Z list event. To be honest, I was disappointed with the corporate box. It felt like a hotel meeting room. After the game, I made my way the George gay bar in Dublin’s centre.
I was on my own, and a guy started chatting to me. He was well dressed and groomed. I am not sure why, but alarms went off in my head. I ended the conversion and said goodbye. The guy would turn out to be a stalker anytime I ended up in Dublin. That’s a story for another day.
James and I started talking. We hit it off very quickly much to the annoyance of my soon to be a stalker.
The next time I met James was in Barcelona. He was on holidays in Europe and, I was in Las Palmas Gran Canaria. We arranged to meet in Barcelona. It was not the meeting either of us planned.
In the week running up to our meeting, I was not feeling well. I used to get gout regularly. Each time I had a gout attack it was worse. This attack was worse yet. I went to the doctor and was put on medication. For the first time, it did not seem to work.
I hardly slept all week. One night during the week, I went out to meet friends. We always met on a Wednesday in a bar that had a music session. That night I had no beer. It was over a week since I had a beer.
We said our goodbyes and at 2 am I made my way home. It was now March the 17th. Saint Patrick’s day. I passed a club feeling sorry for myself. Feck it I said I wanted a beer. It was Paddy’s day. I went into the club.
The next thing I remember was waking up in the street around 6 am with the noise of a rubbish truck. I don’t think I could have drunk much as the club closed at 4 am. Whatever beer I did have was lethal with the medication and a week of pain and no sleep.
During my sleep, someone had relieved me of my phone and wallet. Thankfully I had a habit of putting my debit card into my shirt pocket after using it.
The next day the pain was doubled. I had to get a new phone. I was due to go to Barcelona the next day. I wanted to cancel, but I felt guilty. James had made arrangements to fly to Barcelona from Dublin. The next morning I headed for the airport in what can only be described as in a zombie-like walk.
When I arrived at Gran Canaria airport, I made my way to the security gates. I handed over my reservation. You have not checked in, he said. Have I not I replied confused. I tried to work it out in my head. I, then realised I had no money or cards. I had left them in Las Palmas.
I had enough change to get the bus back to the apartment. A quick taxi back to the airport and I missed the flight by minutes. I nearly cried. I walked over the Iberia airlines desk. When is the next flight I asked? In four hours they said. 250 Euro. My bargain 49 euro return flight was a distant memory.
Sir, do you have more than hand luggage. No, I don’t, I said. Are you sure? Why do you ask, I replied? He pointed to the large suitcase I had in my hand. I had put socks, underwear, shorts and a few T-shirts into a large suitcase. I had no idea it was a large suitcase until he told me. I had to take his word for it.
I now had to let James know I would be delayed. We had planned to meet at the Barcelona airport. I went into the toilet. I turned on my new phone. It asked me for a code number. I did not have it. I cried on the Jax bowl. I was close to the end of my resolve.
I gathered myself. We were connected on facebook. I found an internet kiosk and sent him a message. I knew there was an Irish bar nearby. We could meet there.
As I arrived at the pub James was passing. He had his phone stolen in Dublin. He had not received my message. It was the first bit of luck I had. It is great to see you Pat, but you look terrible was James first words to me.
To his credit, he knew I was very ill. He did not put me under pressure to do anything. Because of that, the weekend was a lot better than it should have been.
As we parted ways, I apologized for not being in good form. He said despite been very ill, I still came here. I said thanks but to be honest, I am not sure where here is.
Thankfully our third meeting in Buenos Aires went well. It was only for 5 hours, but we had a good time exploring the city. We parted knowing there we will meet a 4th time. Maybe in a 4th country.
Reflecting on 2019, I thought I had no mad events that happened to me. No stalkers are stalking me. Maybe that is why I packed my bag in August and headed for South America in August.
Join me on my journey.
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