Tuesday, 1 April 2003. Brownsville and Matamoros. My lack of coordination and poor planning has cost me more than over two-hundred dollars in unnecessary expenditures. I left Amarillo on the 14th of March and I stayed over one week in El Paso, as planned. It didn’t pan-out for me in El Paso: I ended-up sabotaging myself as far as obtaining that driver’s license and all that insurance and registration but at least I saved money by avoiding those fees.
I must keep a running list of expenditures. Expatriation fund $5,000-dollars. I am keeping $3,000-dollars in reserve in safe storage in the event that I manage to “find my feet” in terms of a good living arrangement. I have $1,000-dollars in cash to use for scouting out a possible livelihood (business permits, permanent resident requests, licenses for cab-driving, etc.). I have over $750-dollars at NFCU for currency issues and another $185-dollars just for spending change. Expenditures so far: 50-cent crossing bridge; $8-dollar cab to bus station; $97-dollars for ticket to Chetumal; $1-dollar tip to baggage carrier and there’s no need to include expenditures for food and drink yet.
Wednesday, 2 April 2003. Vera Cruz and Villahermosa. I am continuing to make small mistakes that add up. Today, I can’t seem to work out a decent currency exchange. I can’t decide whether to limit the amount of Mexican pesos I have or go with a good quantity for the stopover in Chetumal. The idea is to get beyond the need to exchange excess pesos and keep American dollars on hand thereby avoiding exchange costs. I withdrew 50-pesos ($5.00) and that small amount will amount to a $3-dollar ATM fee probably. A waste! I am cursing myself for not withdrawing more.
Friday, 4 April 2003. Chetumal. Yesterday, the first thing I did, after the bus driver on the ADO woke me up from a BAD sleep, was find a place to stash all my baggage. Disoriented from 36-plus hours riding in seat 4, in full view of the driver and the road, I realized it was 6AM and didn’t expect to deal with logistics until about noon on the 3rd of April. I awoke confused to say the least. But people in the terminal here were very helpful and I had no problem dropping my baggage off at one of those “tiendas” that double as storage space.
I wasted no time in scouting out a decent hotel. A taxicab driver directed me to the “centro del cuidad” where the hotels line this avenue called “heroes”. All the good shops are along this boulevard and, at its end, there’s this obelisk that marks the entrance to the Caribbean Sea. There are piers to the west (the obelisk faces south towards the sea) and there’s this long walk along the water towards the beaches, a university, and the Mayan ruins of Oxtankah. Chetumal has a harbor called “Bahia de Chetumal” that meets with the Caribbean and is crawling with photo ops. All this is east of the obelisk.
Today is my second day at the hotel Big Ben and I am paying 180-pesos a night. I could save money by paying for an entire week but I won’t be staying in a place that long until I reach either Livingston or Puerto Barrios in Guatemala. Belize City will probably mean another 3-day stopover or shorter if I am not impressed with my prospects of getting into bed with beautiful, easy and ambitious women. You know, the women who want Black American males to enhance their standard of living. With my luck, I probably won’t see that kind of action until I reach San Jose, Costa Rica or Panama City, Panama.
Enough of the sexual tourism talk.
I must figure my expenditures to date: $185-dollars American on 1 April. I now have $48-dollars in my wallet, and a 20-peso note. I have 18-pesos and $2.33 American in coinage. The total amount of spending cash in my wallet amounts to $53.95 in American dollars. I have spent $131.05 dollars American over four days in Mexico. Not too bad! Where did the money go? I exchanged $100-dollars for pesos at the “cambio”. I bought two pair of pants at 488-pesos or $48.48 USD. I bought hiking boots for 229-pesos or $21.81 USD. Two nights so far at the Big Ben comes to 360-pesos or $34.29 USD. And the trip to the Mayan ruins at Oxtankah cost $20.33 USD (tickets and transport). Also, last but not least, 25 cigars at $21-dollars. Total spent: $145.91 American dollars.
At NFCU, I have approximately $215-dollars (not counting the pending $500-dollar deposit I sent on 1 April 2003). I cannot account for those 50 bucks I withdrew. I bought beer yesterday and a pound of peanuts. I ate food today also and had a few sodas and water: $145.91 minus $131.05 equals $14.86 USD. This accounts for $15-dollars of the $50.00 withdrawn. I can’t account for $35.00! I must do a better job with my record keeping.
I will have a total of $1,769.00 American dollars to work with when all is said and done. About $1,750-dollars going into Belize and Guatemala on 6 April. I am $250-dollars into my expat fund with $3,000-dollars in reserve. I can afford to live it up a lil’ bit. But I must start conserving.
I went up to the Mayan ruins at Oxtankah today to get some photo practice in. It took 15 exposures on the trial roll of film and they will all come out bad since I couldn’t reach the temples until late afternoon. The light was bad and the cab driver took half of the pictures (twice!).