As Venezuela's bolivar continues down the painful path of hyperinflation, Bloomberg's Venezuela Bureau Chief, Patricia Laya, embarked on a journey to procure just $1 USD worth of the nearly worthless currency (which varies wildly) - about enough for a cup of coffee.
First, Laya tried to hit up ATMs "in the past few weeks" without luck.
Most of the times I approach them only to see people walking out, putting their debit cards away and shaking their heads saying “no cash.” -Bloomberg
On one occasion, she tried to park near an ATM, only to be chased away by an attendant who wanted 1,500 bolivars cash, and wouldn't accept anything else. She parked a couple of blocks away.
That’s the thing about cash these days in Venezuela, it’s useless except for just a number of cases -- some parking lots, gasoline and public transportation -- in which it’s the only option you have. In some areas, like the airport, there are separate cash registers, which means having cash grants you the superpower of skipping lines made up of dozens of people using debit or credit cards.
This isn’t a new phenomenon in Venezuela, where cash has been scarce for about three years with few moments of respite, yet even with the influx of new bills after the government dropped five zeroes of the currency in August, we’re back to trying our luck at the ATMs. -Bloomberg
So how did Patricia finally hit paydirt? She found a bank branch "tucked away in the second floor of a shopping mall" in Eastern Caracas, and only had to suffer waiting in a line of 10 people or so, after which the teller handed her 6,000 bolivars "consisting of 60 bills of 100-bolivar denomination."
For those of you wondering what you can buy with this: mainly parking tickets and gasoline.— Patricia Laya (@PattyLaya) May 28, 2019
Perhaps she can enjoy her successful cash-hunt over a cup of joe?