Currency Devaluation: The E-Mail I Really Didn't Want
11 Jan 2010
|Hi, all. Landed safe and sound a few hours ago. Can't yet say the same for my backpack, but that won't be interesting enough to write about until it's MIA for at least another couple of hours...
I took a little nap just now; the Miami airport was comfortable enough last night, but FREEZING cold. Even with my thermarest and sleep sheet (which is a little fleecy like an airline blankie), I was shivering like a nervous chihuahua. I love the site www.sleepinginairports.com for its reviews of airport layovers, and every single review had complained of this, so I thought I was prepared, but I was still cold when I got off the plane in 84 degrees.
Before sleeping last night, I logged onto the blog since they had free wi-fi, and my friend Jane had sent the following e-mail:
message: Hi you two,Saw today's headline and thought of you. Hope your prior planning saves some $$.
Well, now, THAT didn't sound good!
Found out this morning with a little nosing around that Chavez devalued the currency by half on Friday and the country's had long lines all weekend with people trying to buy things before the inflation kicks in. The gov't put the national guard on the streets to come down on companies who try to "gouge."
Funny thing, though: I changed $40 at the Miami airport this morning and they gave me the new rate, which means a lot more "bolivares" for my dollar, but the business man next to me on the plane suggested waiting a day or two after I arrive in Venezuela, and sure enough, the exchange places at the airport in Caracas were still using the old rate, as is my hotel.
Here's a decent summary of the news if you like this kind of thing: http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/5057
This may get interesting. Thanks to Jane for the warning; otherwise, I would have changed a whole lotta money today at half the rate I *should* (hoping!!) get tomorrow.
Ken arrives in about 5 hours; I'm heading back to the airport to see if I can find my luggage.
[POST-TRAVEL UPDATE: 2/17/2010. Interestingly, the parallel market rate never fluctuated much after the devaluation. We discovered later that on the first day of the devaluation, the government flooded the black/parallel market with U.S. dollars in order to keep the illegal exchange rate from soaring. This explains why the rate never hit $1 = 8 Bs like someone told me would likely happen. It stayed right around 6, and we usually got 5 - 5.5 through the hotels and street changers.
It *did* help the official exchange rate, though - I'm not sure why, and Venezuelans were surprised to hear it, but we (and other travelers reported the same) got the higher of the new two-tiered official rates, at $1 = 4.2 Bs at the Miami airport, and our Czeck buddies got the same rate at the official changing place within Venezuela.]