I know that I haven’t posted much for the past week or so, but I’ve been busy. No, really!
Oh, sure, I’ve been playing games with my friends, but I’ve also been editing a potential book for my blogger friend, Abby. You can check out her blog at http://vsvevg.wordpress.com/. Abby lives with her handsome [and I know this because I’ve seen his picture] husband, Felipe, in the Mexican state of Morelos. And she’s writing a book about what her life is like since moving to a small pueblo in Morelos from Chicago.
Because I’ve been busy, I’m not going to give you my normal story with pictures. Instead, I’m going to tell you a little bit more about living in Mexico. This has been brought about for a couple of reasons. First, my good friend Jonnie had a house guest from Houston whom I “entertained” out here in Joco last week. Entertained is way too strong a word. I just took Konny on my usual errands. But she reminded me of things that I take for granted here and which she found unusual.
Second, I just got an email from my old friend Michael in Chicago who writes that he might be considering moving down here himself and was asking me for some information about the Lake Chapala area.
So, here we go! Something that Konny and Michael might want to know, as well as something you might want to know.
One thing that I now take for granted down here, but which Konny found astounding, is that we never, ever pump our own gasoline here. We only have one “brand” and that is Pemex, which is the state-owned petroleum company. The bad news is that we have no “gas wars.” The good news is that we have no price-gouging. Every gas station in Mexico charges the same price at the same time so you know how much it’s gonna cost you when you gas up.
But, as I said, what Konny found astonishing is that there are no self-serve pumps here. At every Pemex, there are attendants to fill your tank. I had totally forgotten that that is pretty much a thing of the past in most of the U.S. I guess it’s kind of like gas stations in the ’60s and maybe ’70s when you had an attendant to do that for you. And if you ask, they will also wash your windshield and check your tires and oil, and fill as necessary.
Another thing I had temporarily forgotten about is how cheap a lot of fruits and vegetables are down here, particularly when they are in season. I didn’t buy any when Konny was with me, but today I got a craving for guacamole and, because my avocado tree is done bearing for the year, I had to purchase some avocados and the other fixings for guacamole.
Avocados were going for 20 pesos for a kilo. I only bought a couple, but apparently a kilo would be about six medium-sized avocados. So that would be about $1.50US for those six. I’m guessing that you might be paying a little more for them. I also bought a lot of seedless limes which were selling for 6.9 pesos a kilo. That would be about 25 US cents a pound.
My iceberg lettuce (so, sue me, I love it!) cost me 8.9 pesos (67 US cents) for a large head and my rather tasteless, but good in guacamole, Roma tomatoes cost me 43 US cents for a couple of heaping handfuls.
But lest you think that everything is cheap down here, we do pay a lot [by my Social Security standards] for meat and chicken. I bought some thinly-sliced beef for 92 pesos a kilo ($3.17US a pound) and I didn’t even look at the chicken. It’s cheaper, but still nothing to write home about.
Another thing I had forgotten…or never known….until Konny reminded me…was how much it costs to dine out in the U.S. For the four years before I left the States, I hardly ever ate in a restaurant. That was partially because I lived in a National Park where the closest restaurants were 25 miles one-way away, and also because I was saving up my money to retire early.
I normally don’t eat out a lot down here either. When I play games with my friends, we do go out to lunch, but that’s generally it for me. However, in the past few weeks I’ve been dining out much more than normal and I was feeling pretty guilty about it until Konny pointed out that it would cost me at least two times as much, and possibly three times as much, to get the same food at a restaurant in the States.
Now Konny is from Houston where things might be more expensive than where you live, but I guess I’m still lucky that I’m going to probably the fanciest restaurant in Jocotepec tomorrow for breakfast and my meal and drink are gonna cost me about $4.30US. And that’s for a huge amount of food, which you will learn about later!