Tuesday, September 9, 2008

He's off...and what you get for your money

After much packing and repacking, Scott left for Mexico yesterday and arrived there midafternoon.  In case you're wondering, he did the packing and I repacked to make it all fit.  I must say, I'm a pretty darn good packer.  Makes me want to pack up and head somewhere fun.  Instead of sunning my self in Mexico, though, I'm studying for my first exams of the semester.  Life is just not fair (See Mom, I did listen to you when you mentioned that throughout my childhood.)  

Scott gave me a call to let me know he arrived, but that's the last time I expect to hear from him for a week or so as he doesn't have access to a phone in the woods.  He was off to get some groceries and some rope for his hammock.  I suppose at this point in time he's fending off mosquitoes and trying out his Spanish skills on the locals.  Hopefully he hasn't slipped up yet and had any water to drink.  That might be really unpleasant.

So, on to the next little story to which I alluded in my eye-catching title- what you get for the money.  I advised Scott to just get money from an ATM in Mexico rather than use a exchange agent as you lose less to fees and you get the exact exchange rate.  I've done it before and it works out nicely provided you are in a touristy area.  I did mention that it helps to know the approximate exchange rate as you have to get the money out in whatever the local currency is (and you'll need to do the conversion math yourself).  I even illustrated with a story of the intrepid backpackers Betsy and Rebecca making their way across Europe and stopped in Salzburg, Austria (where they had the fabulous "Sound of Music" tour) and got what seemed to be around $100 US from an ATM.  Soon, however, they realized that the large amount of Austrian shillings was only worth about $8 US.  Not quite enough to cover a night at the hostel or a meal or anything in Austria, really.  All that to say that when Scott called, he told me he had gotten several thousand pesos out of the ATM and used the cash to buy a bottle of water an a snack which cost him 2/3 of his pesos.  Turns out, he withdrew about $5.  He did better his second time around.  

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