If you don’t like films with a lot of exposition, skip down two paragraphs.
MATH ALERT! An earth year is approximately 365.26 earth days. 365.26/2 = 182.63. My journey from Jacksonville, Florida to San Jose, Costa Rica started on March 21, 2022. Googling “March 21 plus 182 days” indicates that September 19 marks my first half a year of travel in Latin America. On this Monday I’m celebrating by sobering up from the Valentine’s weekend parties and focusing my attention on this website. Yeah, I’m getting old and responsible. I didn’t get wasted like I used to. Moderation.
If you haven’t deciphered the code yet, TD182.63 stands for Travel Days since March 21, 2022. I was initially counting from March 22, which is considered travel day one and my first day in Costa Rica. This isn’t accurate because I traveled to the airport on the 21st, which is more of TD0 really. Plus it felt like I was traveling rolling up at Jax airport at 10pm. So I have to go back and change all the travel day numbers by one. Tis my lot in life.
If you’re still reading, thank you.
In my travels, people sometimes ask me about money. Most popular questions: #1 Are you working while traveling? #2 How long can you afford to travel? #3 Why does your breath always smell like robitussin? #4 How can you afford to travel so long without working?
The answer to the first question is a simple no. Let’s call it a sabbatical if that makes you more comfortable than turn on, tune in, drop out. I’m traveling, writing, taking photos, staying in inexpensive but incredible places and currently enjoying a week in Tolú, Colombia, an affordable laid back beach town two hours south of Cartagena where I am the only gringo in town during the low travel season. I am a bit of a celebrity here after 6 nights.
I originally decided to stay in Tolú to break up the 12 hour bus ride from Cartagena to Medellin. The plan was to relax, catch up on the blog and go to Medellin well rested and productive.
Then came the Little Pig Lady of Canada House, my first accommodation in Tolú. I will talk more about her in another blog post and the darker side of the story will be on the Patreon, but the point is it was not relaxing or peaceful there, just a lot of drama. I’ve had some of the best customer service from hospitality in Colombia, but this lady has a mental illness called sociopathy. She can’t help but try to ruin peoples’ vacations. She gets off on the power because she is a little person. Here’s miss Piggie now:
Don’t feel sorry for her like I’m picking on a little person. She is known by locals to be a bad hospitality business person. More details on her later. I want to keep this post positive.
The answer to question #2 is 3 years at the current spending rate with no income.
I currently keep this tab open and pinned on both my Macbook’s and phone’s browsers.
I type in a price someone quotes me in pesos and I can see the exact amount in dollars. A rough estimate is to divide everything by 4 and take off the last three digits. But then everything you buy is actually a little cheaper than you calculated in your head. For a more exact estimate, I sometimes use the calculator on my phone to divide by 4400. But this Google tool gives more precise and up to date exchange rates.
According to Google, today’s exchange rate is 4437.01 pesos per U$D. The chart on the right shows the exchange rate for the past 19 years. 2003 is at the far left of the neon green jagged line and today is to the far right. The trend has been the peso losing its value compared to USD as you can see with the sharp loss of peso value to the right. It’s the most favorable exchange rate from dollars to Colombian pesos for the past two decades.
That, namely thrift, is part of the answer to question #4. I’ll get more into specific costs of travel in a later post. But for example, I spent less than $3 a night for a hammock on the second floor overlooking the Caribbean in Cabo de la Vela, my new favorite place on earth. Meals are regularly $3 or less. Bus travel is incredibly cheap and fun because you really get to see the country you’re traveling in.
I will talk more about travel thrift in another post, but this is the most important concept: the less you spend, the longer you can travel, regardless of how much you have saved.
Important tip: don’t be afraid to haggle. It’s common in most countries. My first goal for this trip was medical. In Costa Rica I had lens replacement surgery to correct cataracts. The doctor quoted me $5000 per eye, $10,000 total. I countered with $4000 per eye, which he begrudgingly accepted and I saved $2000, which is three months of travel at my current spending rate. With a simple email counter offer, I saved enough money to pay for my entire upcoming trip to Peru. Also, my credit card gave me a lot of cash back because I was spending so much on medical necessities. But it’s still much cheaper and better service than the Divided States of America. I will never have anything medical done in the US again.
As for question #3, I think you can answer that for yourself and please mind your own damned business.
🤣 🇨🇴🇵🇦🇳🇮🇨🇷 ❤️🩹
-El Gringo Loco
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