El Salvador introduced Bitcoin (BTC) as legal tender more than four months ago, on September 7, 2021. Bitcoiners around the world have been watching closely as El Salvador President Nayib Bukele attempts to “convert” an entire nation.
The President regularly buys every drop, has promised a tax-friendly Bitcoin “citadel” in the form of Bitcoin City, and is exploring renewable energy mining for BTC using volcanoes.
But what is everyday life like for the people who live in the smallest country in Central America, known as the “Land of Volcanoes”? Besides, what’s it like trying to live off Bitcoin alone?
An Italian couple, Rikki and Laura, have succeeded. Rikki is a bitcoin podcaster and human rights activist who has been active in the field since 2016. Laura works as a community manager in the blockchain space and has focused on crypto since 2019.
After the bitcoin law was passed, Laura had the idea to travel all over El Salvador for 45 days. The challenge? Live only with Bitcoin. No bartering, no euros and of course no US dollars.
Their experiences offer a fascinating insight into the country’s history, its enchanting landscapes and of course its future with Bitcoin. His travel reports can be read in English and Italian, his podcast is called Bitcoin Italy Podcast.TO
On the other hand, Rikki and Laura have also encountered significant challenges from just using BTC, such as: B. Education gaps and difficulties in transactions with Bitcoin. On Jan. 24, they spoke to Cointelegraph via video call from Santa Ana, a coffee-rich region of El Salvador.
They are now true sources of knowledge for bitcoiners who want to venture into El Salvador on a BTC-only trip. Here are his top tips for crypto enthusiasts traveling to the small tropical nation.
Do you accept bitcoin? No? Goodbye!
In San Salvador, many places accept bitcoin, from McDonald’s to Starbucks to corner shops. In El Zonte, known as “Bitcoin Beach,” the birthplace of the Bitcoin Act, most vendors advertise that they accept BTC. Off the beaten track, however, bitcoin is little known and sometimes confused with the government-sponsored Chivo Wallet.
When faced with a seller who won’t accept bitcoin, the couple’s top advice is to conduct a theatrical experiment. The customer must ask the seller if they accept bitcoin, and if the seller says no, the customer must turn on their heel and walk away. You shouldn’t take the money.
As Rikki explained, “You just have to go!” Merchants want the business, so if a customer makes a scene showing they only have bitcoin, the seller will want to accept their sats.
When a seller doesn’t want to accept bitcoin, it’s usually not because of infrastructure deficiencies because “you can buy a cheap Chinese smartphone with a SIM card and a data plan for $20 in the market, and the connection here is huge.” It is the “perfect country to conduct the Bitcoin experiment”.
This brings us to the interesting part, which leads to the “why,” the reason for not accepting bitcoin. Sometimes it’s just because the restaurant or hotel owner confused Chivo with Bitcoin, it’s more common than you think. See how it works.
Rikki and Laura had a great time discussing and educating the locals about bitcoin and making great memories along the way.
Prepare and prepare again
Although the adventure was a lot of fun, Rikki said, “It’s not easy and requires a little preparation. You must plan your routes in advance. Especially if you get away from the main tourist areas where bitcoin is less accepted.” .” . In some cases, the couple called 20 or 30 hotels before finding a bitcoiner.
Undeterred by the challenge, he felt these fights were the icing on the cake of his travel adventure. “Sometimes we ended up in the craziest places just because we were looking for places that accept bitcoin.” They joke that Satoshi Nakamoto was the driving force behind their day-to-day decision-making.
Traveling solely using bitcoin also meant the couple was forced to engage with locals on a more intimate level, forging human connections in the process.
Sorry Satoshi, but museums don’t accept Bitcoins
Rikki was keen to see the Mayan ruins at Tazumal, a historical site and archaeological museum near Santa Ana, but the historical sites only accept cash. Rikki was dejected and would question President Bukele about such a strange omission about Bitcoin if the opportunity arose. “Why are the museums managed by the Salvadoran Ministry of Culture only managed on a cash basis?”
The decision may change as bitcoin law is slowly rolled out to affect all walks of life, but for now cultural experiences, museums and some excursions are cash only. The couple could not enter these sites due to their strict rules. Bitcoin breeders should have a few bucks with them just in case.
Education, education, education
Few Salvadorans understand what Bitcoin is, how it works, or the difference between the Lightning Network and on-chain transactions. As Laura points out, “some Salvadorans think the only way to pay with bitcoin is to use the Chivo app.” They are not aware of other Lightning wallets such as BlueWallet or Wallet of Satoshi.
In the Chivo app itself, there are no educational tools for users who want to learn about bitcoin. Rikki explained that “nobody here knows anything about bitcoin. They didn’t educate the people of El Salvador for a second.” Laura added, “If people knew about Bitcoin, they wouldn’t be using the app.”
Therefore, given the lack of information and education of Salvadorans, it is the responsibility of bitcoin tourists to make time with the locals. They must share their knowledge of bitcoin and be patient as Salvadorans begin to understand the monetary network.
as usual tell Michael Saylor, it takes thousands of hours to understand Bitcoin. Bitcoin law was quickly passed and implemented, and many locals didn’t have the time to understand the technology.
“Come to El Salvador and spend your bitcoin here”
This is less advice and more an appeal by Rikki and Laura on behalf of the Bitcoin community in El Salvador.
Come to El Salvador and spend your bitcoin. This will increase awareness, increase literacy levels through network effects and word of mouth, and ultimately encourage more and more people to use the Bitcoin network, they said.
For Rikki, “The more you act, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more you learn and use it for good.”