So it's been a month since we left Veracruz on route for Canada and we have spent a lot of money! $3087.87 Mexican pesos to be exact. That's about $250 US. As you can see, bike parts and a bit of service have been our biggest expenses. These numbers do not include the numerous valuable parts and products given to us by the good people at Huntington Cycle and Sport in West Virginia. In the last month 57.32% of our money was spent on bike parts. 31.51% of our pesos were burnt away on delicious Mexican food, as you may imagine it is much easier to find free food than free bike parts. Milo was kept fat (and is actually gaining weight) as we spend 1.88% of our money on his needs. We have greatly reduced the amount of money we spend on Milo by buying him meat shavings or hearts from local butchers as well as more expensive, dry dog food. Often when they hear that Milo has travelled to 7 countries and 9 Mexican states, the butchers won't accept our money and provide Milo's meal for free. In past tours, we would visit Internet cafes to update our website, this is a costly habit. In this tour we have reduced our visits to the Cyber (as they call here in Mexico) to only times when we cannot find free Internet for a week. 8.1% of our money until today has been invested in items to sell or trade (items that we guess will have more value elsewhere) and for gifts. Currently we are carrying hand made sandals made from tyres and vanilla from El Tajin that we hope we will be able to turn a small profit with. Often we just end up gifting away these items bit by bit but that's no waste. We hope to reduce our spending in the future, mainly on bike parts. This month we had to replace consumable bike parts like bottom brackets, chains and David's crank set and chain rings which (apart from the crank set) generally need replacing every 5000kms or so. Should these new parts hold up for 6 months or more we should be able to get back on our $50 Mexican Peso aka $3USD daily budget.
To clarify, the $50 pesos or $3 USD that we spend daily we earned (for this particular trip) working in Veracruz teaching English, fishing, gardening, cleaning, chopping and selling firewood, farming, selling herbs, fruits and vegetables from our garden as well as eggs, chicks and chickens that we raised. Our greatest tool in the fight to save money has been not spending money, we did this in Playa Hermosa by eating fresh food from our garden, the mountain, the ocean and from the gardens of our generous friends there.
While traveling, to supliment our $50 peso or $3USD budget, we hustle. Meaning that we look for many ways to make a little extra cash for those times when we need to spend a little extra cash. A good example of this is from last week. A friend of ours, Hermien sent us $15 USD from the Support Us page on our website. This day we were biking to Saltillo, Coahuila. About 30kms from Saltillo it started to rain, a type of rain they call "chippy chippy" in Veracruz or spitting elsewhere. I believe David said something to the effect of "it's a shower, it will pass" so we carried on. To quote the Dutch, "and then it stopped raining softly". Hard rain progressed into hail and then a full torrential downpour. After a bit of this, we arrived in the outskirts of Saltillo and I screamed to David at the top of my lungs (the only way that he could hear me) that we should take shelter at the approaching corner store. The cashier invited Milo and us in after seeing what a sorry, soggy site we were. We dried off Milo, who was shaking like a leaf from fear of the booming thunder. I took to the staff washroom to change into dry clothes. For a desert it was really really cold. I left David, poor shaky Milo and the employee out in the store watching the water in the steet grow to a rushing river of more than 2ft (60cm) in depth. Being gentlemen, David and the corner store employee didn't say anything about the horrid odor wafting out from the washroom. I too noticed the odor but wasn't sure from where it was coming until, about to change my pants I noticed brown water leaking into the bathroom from under the door!! Eiiikkk!! Eventually the entire cornerstore, save a small patch in the centre flooded with black water, back washing from their pipes. With the rain not letting up and no visibility causing total mayhem in the streets David and I decided we would take our chances with the small dry patch. It must have been divine intervention that the dry patch in the store lead directly to the chips and hot coffee. Thank you Hermien! we spent $56 pesos, more than a normal days total budget on chips (something we haven't bought since we left Toronto two years ago) and two delicious cups of coffee. If I held the steamy cup just so under my nose it almost smelt like I wasn't standing in a sewer.
To make our own money on this trip we have used a bit of tact and a lot of luck. In Veracruz, 3kms from Emilio Caranza we found a mountain of perfectly intact juicy limes. We baged them into 2 or 3kg bags and managed to make $80 in about an hour selling them for $10 pesos a pop. On this trip we also found a sealed carton of juice powder which we have been using as currency to trade for things like prepared corn cobs and have made a not very impressive $9 pesos trying to sell the juice packages individually while we take breaks in small towns.
Occasionally, generous people that we meet gift us cash. The $400 pesos that we were given this month was from the same, wonderful family in Poza Rica. We have been able to keep our bikes (and therefor ourselves) going with this money.
David, Milo and I would like to send out a great big lovey dovey thank you! to all of you for your financial and emotional support. We can't do it with out you! Xo H