• Michael Phillips

Life On Bitcoin Beach

For a guy with not much to do I keep busy in El Zonte. Every day is occupied with meditation, a bodyweight workout regime, yoga, writing in a diary, new friends that come and go, and time on the beach to photograph or test the power of the current. That last one will eventually lead to surfing, but let's not kid ourselves, I'm procrastinating there. It's a peaceful life and a time I will never forget. It's a time for me to improve and figure out what the next step in life will be.

My main intention was to learn about this place they call Bitcoin Beach. The promise was that a circular monetary system of Bitcoin has been built, using the Lightning network to make transactions instantaneous and nearly free. A financial utopia for the world to behold and eventually model itself after.

During the pandemic I learned a lot about money. How it evolved, how it functions, how each form of currency throughout civilization has eventually lost its value and died. This became a less in macroeconomics and how our system functions. I quickly became disillusioned and turned to Bitcoin, a network which I believe has the ability to restore a 'sound' money economic policy back to the people while disempowering flawed central banks around the world. I could talk about this in great detail but I fear anyone reading is already bored to tears.

If you read my last blog post you can learn a little more about the establishment of Bitcoin Beach. I came here as a fan, ready to use my phone to pay for my accommodations and pupusas without the US dollar and without any bank as the intermediary. In 2 weeks from now Bitcoin becomes legal tender in El Salvador. Part of this decree is that all businesses are required to accept Bitcoin as an alternative payment to the US dollar. Now that I've seen the reality here, I have my doubts.

In reality, only about 15% of the local businesses here accept Bitcoin as payment. When I have used my digital 'wallet' there has been some confusion on both sides of these little $10 transactions. Many of the people, when I ask if they accept Bitcoin, smile or give a little laugh.

I'm not sure what the future of Bitcoin looks like in this country. Adopting it nationally as a currency was a very ambitious endeavor. While I may be disillusioned of the economic reality, El Zonte is a beautiful place. Wherever I go I see children playing, dogs running free and surfers just getting in from their latest ride. It is a slow and happy life down here. The bad reputation attached to El Salvador bears no resemblance to the reality.

While I may not be able to spend my Bitcoin everywhere I go, the system is still working for some. Below is my man, Mario Antonio with a couple of new friends I've made a long the way. Mario is the full time lifeguard on the beach, keeping the local gringos from getting pulled into the riptide when they don't know what they're getting themselves into. And I can attest to both, the riptide is insanely powerful here and many gringos do not know what they're doing. I have witnessed Mario save a life already. He got tipped in 'Satoshi's' (the tiny denomination of Bitcoin).

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