I am writing this from Lima, Peru. I am here for a few days before leaving for the Cordillera Blanca in the Andes, where I will hike the Huayhuash Trek.
I hired a private guide, Yoselin, and toured this vast city for most of the day. We started in the Miraflores neighborhood, where my hotel is located. Within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean, Miraflores is the commercial center of the city, with many nice hotels, restaurants and shops. It’s obvious why most tourists stay here.
We then walked to the Barranco neighborhood, which is a more tranquil area and the “hippest” district, known for artwork (outdoor “frescas”), restaurants, bars and nightlife. We then hopped on the bus and traveled into the heart of the city, Lima Centro. Here we spent most of our time exploring cathedrals and museums, and touring some government buildings. Lima is a very old city, and it’s fascinating to encounter buildings and monuments that date well before the founding of our country.
But I am guessing you are not reading this for a history lesson on Lima and you are probably wondering why I am even posting this particular blog. Well, as Yosi and I were navigating the throngs in Lima Centro, we were approached several times by people she identified as from Venezuela. If you have been following events in that country, you may know that the “Chavista” government is in turmoil and that millions of its citizens have fled to find jobs and security. What you may not know is that the Venezuelan currency, the Bolivar, has lost so much value that is all but worthless. I say “all but”, because the Venezuelans approached Yosi and me, and were in fact selling the currency. I do not mean exchanging it. They were selling it as a souvenir. While I did not buy any Bolivars (I am not sure what I would do with them anyway), we could tell that large denomination Bolivar bills were selling for just pennies (or more accurately just a few Peruvian Sols).
Currency devaluation is not something most Americans think about. The United States Dollar is, without question, the strongest currency in the world. You can travel anywhere with the “greenback” and exchange it into virtually any currency with ease. In fact, do you know what has replaced the Bolivar as the de facto currency in Venezuela? The US Dollar.
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