Famous is the difficulty of finding coins and getting businesses to make change for large bills in Buenos Aires. Where have all the coins gone? "No sé," or "I don't know," said every Porteño I asked. My Porteña roommate tells me she sometimes go from bank to bank trying to collect enough change for the week.
Just this afternoon I went to the local Disco supermarket and bought a baguette and an orange Fanta. The bill came to AR$4.91. I gave a 5 peso note and got 10 centavos back. Three days ago I took a taxi home and the meter told me AR$5.80. I gave AR$10 and got back a AR$5 note. How do businesses deal with taxes and audits when their receipts don't square up with cash on hand?
Coins are essential in the Porteños' daily lives. One needs coins to take buses and many Subte (subway) stations loudly display "NO HAY MONEDAS," or no coins to make change. So if one wants to buy a 10 trip Subte card (AR$11), it's best to turn up with exactly AR$11. Where to come up with that 1 peso coin is another story.
Thinking about this makes me tired. Time for a siesta.