On our second day in BsAs, a Hepburn family friend named Florencia met us for a drink to welcome us. Then she took out a plastic bag full of coins and gestured that we were to keep it. “Aw, how motherly,” we thought. We soon realized she was being pragmatic. Porteños hoard their coins—people would rather lose money than make change here. Why? I found this New Yorker article enlightening.
On my part, I’ve been lying about not having change to shopkeepers despite their suspicious stares at my jingling coin purse. And I actually find that I have more coins than I need. Collective paranoia is indeed infectious.