This is a two part series about black market houses or also known as cuevas in Venezuela and Argentina. In Part 1, I showed you how to find black market currency exchange rates in Venezuela and Argentina. Part 2 (this post) will focus on where to physically locate black market “cuevas” in Venezuela and Argentina.
So, how do I find physically find these black markets in Venezuela and Argentina?
In Venezuela, cuevas are pretty much on the down low. When walking down a street in Venezuela, people are not going to be yelling cambio, cambio because that draws too much attention and the Venezuelans like to keep things hush hush. The method to get the best exchange rate is of course to know someone in Venezuela. Locals know where the best exchange rates are and often times, they are not at a physical location. Couriers will come to your apartment and do the whole deal right in the comfort of your own home. If you’re a tourist and you ask the hotel concierge, they may direct you to a location, but you’ll only get half or less than half of the current black market rate. Often times, they will direct you to an ATM because people working in hospitality do not want to jeopardize their job by talking about the black market at work and especially not in front of customers.
In Argentina, pretty much everyone knows about the black market. You can walk down any street on Calle Florida in Buenos Aires and you will get bombarded by cat calls like “cambio, cambio”. It’s just like walking down the Las Vegas Strip and you’re bombarded with those little nude escort cards. The method to get the best exchange rate is not on Calle Florida, but to know a local or get in contact with one. They know where all the secret spots are in Palmero and Recoleta. You will get close to the official rate at Calle Florida, but if you have good bargaining skills, you may get closer to the full unofficial rate. Likewise in Venezuela, asking the hotel concierge will likely yield you to the hotel’s in house exchange desk or ATM machine where you will only get the official rate. Employees working in hospitality do not want to jeopardize their job by talking about the black market at work and especially not in front of customers.