Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mexico by the Numbers

Well folks, tonight is our last night in Mexico. We have booked our shuttle to Quetzaltenango for tomorrow morning, already changed some Pesos into Quetzales, and will be saying "adios" to San Cristobal at 6:30 A.M. tomorrow. I figured it would be a good time to give a quick budget update. We left on October 26 from Los Angeles, and will be leaving Mexico tomorrow, December 5, so it will have been a total of 41 days. During this time we withdrew $2118 from our bank account. Our initial bus ticket from Los Angeles to Chihuahua cost $194, and we ended up using $68 to exchange at the border. This gives us a grand total of $2380. This figure, however, is a little misleading because it includes the cost of transportation from here to the border as well as onward transportation after we cross, but for means of simplicity I have included it as a cost for Mexico. In addition we have about 1000 pesos left, some of which has been exchanged already. Using a fair exchange rate of about 13.5 pesos to 1 USD, it means we spent about $2306 or $56 per day.

What does all this really mean? Our biggest expenses were by far transportation and then lodging. For example, our two tickets on El Chepe were nearly $150 US each! Hotels ranged from 145-300 pesos each night, with about 225 being the average. We primarily ate light breakfasts, and tried to avoid the super touristy, and thus overpriced, restaurants for lunch and dinner. That said, we ate plenty, and had quite a variety of foods. We used public transportation frequently and took night buses for the longer trips both for safety reasons and to skip a night's lodging cost. The real key though, is negotiating. In general we got anywhere from a 20%-60% discount on lodging by negotiating. Negotiation is also a must for cab rides, as well as with merchants. Had we really wanted to we probably could have kept our costs below $35/day, however we have come to enjoy things like hot water, air conditioning in hot areas, internet, etc. Anyway, I've had a touch of mezcal with my hot chocolate tonight, so if someone could check my math, that would be fantastic. See you in Guatemala!!!

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