Now that I’m back and planning and imminent life change, my mind has been dancing and whirling around many subjects, the majority of which are the trip from which I just returned. After looking at all my pictures eighty billion times, googling job opportunities in Guatemala, and bemoaning the fact that I probably could have afforded a week in El Tunco after all, I started to feel a little pathetic. Living in the past is ineffective, SO not Power of Now. There was, however, one more way to relive the vacation: Calculation of funds.
For those of you who are unaware, I am economically anal. I’m cheap, to be sure. I’m careful with my money when it matters so that I can be frivolous when it doesn’t. More than anything, though, I have a list of my expenditures; a meticulous, borderline-demented log of every single cent I spend. I started this when I was saving up money to flee New York in 2005. Though there have been periods of inactivity, I’d say 80% of every dime I’ve dropped over the last 6.5 years has been recorded. This may sound mental, and there is indubitably something weird and obsessive about marking something like “2 pesos: Gave to begging indigenous lady. 10 pesos: Lent to ex-coordinator and was never paid back.” But I never sit there at the end of the month wondering where my money has gone. No, I’m always all too cognizant that it went to exorbitantly expensive Laffy Taffy at the Oxxo. Here’s an excerpt:
When I’m traveling, I make no exception; on the contrary, when you’re wandering around with limited funds and no plan, it’s more important than ever to know exactly where your dollars/pesos/quetzales are going. It’s all too easy to open your mind, heart and wallet, and find yourself five weeks into a three month trip with a negative balance and six hundred and twelve friendship bracelets that you’ll never wear back home. Thus, I have taken the liberty of poring over my papers in the interest of sharing with you, curious readers and aspiring budget travelers, the breakdown of my trip.
I was gone for exactly seven weeks, or forty nine days. My trajectory was as follows:
- Puebla –> Oaxaca City
- Oacaxa City –> Puerto Escondido
- Puerto Escondido –> Tapachula
- Tapachula –> Guatemala City
- Guatemala City –> Antigua
- Antiua –> San Pedro La Laguna
- San Pedro La Laguna –> Antigua
- Antigua –> Monterrico
- Monterrico –> Antigua
- Antigua –> San Cristóbal de las Casas
- San Cristóbal de las Casas –> Puebla
(Note: I didn’t even fucking like Antigua, but it’s kind of a cross-over point for lame pussies like me who were too terrified to take the chicken buses.)
I have broken down my funds into the following categories:
- Housing: All hotels and hostels
- Buses: All long-distance coaches and shuttles
- Transport: All city buses, water taxis, and land taxis
- Food: All food consumed, regardless of being purchased in a restaurant or market
- Water: All water purchased
- Coffee: All coffee, tea, and hot chocolate
- Cigarettes: All tobacco-related products, including papers, matches and lighters
- Drugs: All illegal substances purchased, as well as sleeping pills for the bus
- Robbed: All funds taken against my will
- Tours: All cultural excursions, including tips to guides, museums, and actual tours
- Shop: All products bought for personal use or as gifts
- Cell phone
The trip was entirely funded by the meager Mexican peso; however, I have listed all quantities in US dollars, not just to mock Mexican money but for ameliorating reader comprehension. The graph below is done as a daily breakdown, thus providing a slightly inaccurate rendition of my average day. For example, the total amount spent on the entire trip was $1,390. $95 of this is money that was robbed. Thus, the daily average graph states that every single day I was robbed $1.30, which would be awkward and kind of lame. The daily percentages are obviously th overall trip percentages as well. Thus, I present the final assessment of fundage as spent between January 24th and March 11th, 2012:
I spent the equivalent of $1,390 USD over 49 days, which averages out to $28 per day, eight dollars per day more than my intended budget. One must make countless decisions in the vein of “savings vs. fun,” and I cannot think of a single time when the former won out. Indeed, I’d rather cut my trip short and enjoy myself more than sit in a hostel for weeks on end eating Maruchan as shouts of mirth and ecstasy waft through my window. Additionally, I’m no good at the whole “go to the bar and not drink” route that some better-minded people are able to take. Finally, I live to eat, and with a few exceptions, all my meals were prepared by someone else, be it a restaurant chef or an old lady in the market.
That said, food alone was the bank breaker, accounting for 31% of my total expenditures. Next in line was housing, at $4.7 (17%) of my daily dinero funding beds. I spent $234 on total on lodging, which works out to $143 a month, or $what-the-fuck-am-I going-to-do-when-I-get-home? The other heavy loaders were long distance buses, on which I spent $174 total (12.5%), and alcohol, on which I spent $142 (10.3%). All other areas made relatively small dents, though the fact that I spent 5.5% of my money on cigarettes is worrisome.
The cheesy and requisite thing to say is that, money aside, I have had a most amazing time, unmeasurable, etc; this is true. But it’s a lorge part of the whole extended vacation thing. Plus, I find budgets highly entertaining.
In conclusion, I have now closed the circle of the first voyage of 2012. Anything I say henceforth is like rewearing the prom dress, as it were. As I prepare to cross up into the gabacho where I can hopefully make some cash to get back down here, I tremble knowing that the 31 dollars I spent in coffee country in seven weeks is what a weeks worth of sup-par cappucinos cost at home, but it’s all part of the game, no?