At a tiny currency exchange in a dark little cul-de-sac, an older gentleman asked me where I was from.
“Ah, the United States!” he exclaimed. “People are so afraid in your country. They are terrified!”
“Of what?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Everything. Bad things are happening and people are afraid.”
“Huh,” I said.
“I have no desire to leave my country,” the gentleman said decisively. “We are very safe here. We don’t need to be afraid!”
“That’s very good,” I said.
What this was all about remained a mystery. But at least I finally have pesos. The people at the hotel have been refusing to exchange my money since yesterday. They are the nicest, most helpful hotel workers I’ve ever met but the idea of buying dollars seems to fill them with existential sadness.
After I had my pesos, I went to a local supermarket and bought food. At the hotel, I spent 15 minutes converting the price of each item to USD and feeling shocked that such good food can cost so little.
I’m eating something called arepa with jamón serrano. I know they aren’t eaten together but since I’m breaking the diet anyway, I decided to eat the combinations of foods that will make me happy.