Thank goodness we’re leaving Argentina!
We’ve been loving Argentina, but honestly speaking… we went waaaaay over our budget while we were there. (Yes… Haha… we have a budget)
To be fair to us, it’s not TOTALLY our fault. You see, we are holding on to a 2010 edition of Lonely Planet (the LATEST edition we could find), and all the price estimates in the book were off by well… 100%.
Apparently, some time in the last two years, there was a MASSIVE inflation. These days, the exchange rates vary from 4.8 pesos to the dollar at banks to 7 pesos in the black market (that gringos like us have no access to). Consequently, we paid an insane premium on everything from food to accommodation to tickets.
Of course, $20 steaks + $4 wine = massive budget overrun as well.
We were actually a bit worried about entering Chile because we were constantly being told by Argentinians that the standard of living in Chile is a LOT higher than it is in Argentina.
And to make matters worse, we got into Chile without doing any research. We didn’t book our accommodation, we did not know the difference between the various barrios (areas) in Santiago and we certainly did not know the currency exchange rate of the Chilean pesos. (it was actually strangely out of character for us. Just to be clear, I blame the wine in Mendoza)
And that’s the state we were in when we checked into our hostel along Pio Nono in Barrio Bella Vista (seriously!). I did a quick check of the exchange rate (480 Chilean pesos to 1 USD) and, having not eaten anything the entire day, we rushed off for dinner.
We got into a restaurant nearby, looked at the menu and started exchanging Looks with each other. The price for a set meal (with salad and side) was 2500 Chilean pesos, and beer was 500 pesos.
Did we get the exchange rate wrong? Or maybe we were just not too good at doing conversions with too many zeros in them? Because after almost a month of eating $5 hot dogs from makeshift stands in Argentina, a $5 meal in a relatively non-dodgy sitdown restaurant in “expensive” Chile seemed too good to be true.
In any case, we tucked into our food and we were convinced that we’d love Chile already!