Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dollars and retirees

On a bike ride back from a nearby town (Cotacachi for those with Google Earth), I started running some financial numbers in my head. This moment was costing us, in descending order:

$25 a day for amortized airfare here ($3800/165 days)
$8 for the bike rental (but so far only two days spent on that)
$6/day for the stuff we’ve bought for the apartment
$4/day for the rent
$1.60 for the breakfast I found at the bus station (Two fried eggs, yummy stew (beef, potatoes, gravy) over rice, glass of fruit juice (papaya, I think), bun with slice of cheese, instant coffee. Very real, very non-touristy, cool)

This analysis quickly leaves lots of room for higher living; you’ve already spent the biggest ticket item, so don’t skimp on the taxi to the volcano or the charango (more on that soon. :) )

In that same town we discovered what I can only call a gringo enclave. I’d seen these in Mexico but this was my first one here. There is a walled neighborhood – could have been in, say, Phoenix – out in the fields where about 5 years ago a bunch of whiteys bought and built houses. The economics are clear; the pension goes a lot further down here than stateside. The social aspect of it seems disgusting to me, but I always crave the local color. If you don’t want that, barking dogs and roosters and buses gets old in a hurry, and one way to minimize that is to set apart and wall off. KD ran into some of these folks in the grocery store – tall white guy, attendant, hideous Spanish accent. Interesting. P

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