It is very common to see shops in Buenos Aires having a handwritten sign declaring “No Hay Monedas”. No Coins. Which meant if you didn’t have exact change they weren’t going to sell you anything, as there simply weren’t enough coins in circulation.
There were crazy rumours about why this had happened. Such as; the metal of the coins was more valuable than their face value so shifty families were melting them down or, that it was a mafia scheme so that they could sell bags of coins on a black market at a 10% mark up to desperate shop owners and public transport users.
Standoffs ensured as the corner shop would ask if you had coins for your packet of milk. You would obviously say ‘No’ even if they had heard the tell tale clang in your hip pocket. ‘Its my keys’ you would lie as you both stared each other down. Several times I was denied my milk as the cashier decided my purchase was less valuable than their few remaining coins.
Fortunately, with the new president, Mauricio Macri coins have begun to magically reappear. New, shiny although not in boundless numbers but enough that the handwritten signs have disappeared. One contributing factor to the recirculation of coins is the introduction of the SUBE card, a coinless transport card. The entire Subway network accepts the SUBE card, so with a scan and a beep and you are through the turnstiles. You can buy la tarjeta sube at our Spanish School located at Viamonte 1516, CABA, Argentina