As I touched on in my last post, we’re going to Mexico! It felt so right when we finally made the official decision to go two weeks ago. I think it’s funny how we end up doing the things we do, trying ideas on for size and deciding to go somewhere before completely abandoning the idea for another.
I guess the seed was planted a year or so ago when I picked up a copy of Oh Mexico, by Lucy Neville about her year living in Mexico city. I loved reading about her adventures and romantic escapades in a city I previously thought of as dodgy and dangerous.
She presented Mexico city as a place with untold cultural riches waiting to be discovered by the intrepid traveller, who I thought could be me some day.
So imagine my delight when I received an email update from a house sitting site I am a member of, Trusted Housesitters, that a three level penthouse in the heart of Mexico City, complete with gorgeous pup, was waiting for us to move in and create our own Mexico City experience.
Okay, it may not have said that exactly, but that’s what I read.
I may be adventurous, but having a luxurious base in a safe area sounded like good sense to me. I applied, launching into a fantasy of walking my adopted pup along the tree-lined avenues of our up-market suburb, before popping off to my Spanish class in the afternoon.
We made it to the shortlist, but when we were in Beijing, received news that we hadn’t made the cut due to our lack of Spanish skills (should have taken those lessons a little earlier). The owner understandably wanted someone with basic Spanish in case of an emergency with either the house or the dog.
“Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be,” I said to Tyrhone, and was actually relieved that we no longer had a committment to uphold. We were free to dream again.
Whilst travelling through China, we started thinking about South America (as you do…). The reason we were going to the other side if the world was, a) we wanted a change of pace from Asia, and b), I had a free flight left over from my old airline job to use, and we wanted to make the most of it by going as far as possible with it.
The airline flew direct to Santiago, Chile, which seemed like a good place to start.
“Let’s buy a van and drive through the Atacama!” said Tyrhone one day, who had seen some amazing photos of the high altitude desert at night, the sky a sea of a billion stars.
Photo by Yuri Beletsky
“Oh-kay…” I replied, wanting him to have his driving-through-a-desert dream, but a little worried about the logistics of it.
Forums were consulted, variations of the phrase “How to buy a van Chile” were imputed in google, and we became quite knowledgeable about RUT forms, insurance and prices. It was definitely doable.
And though I was a little concerned about being cooped up in a van for a few months, the idea of being the masters of our transportational destiny and camping out under the stars really appealed to me. The plan was we’d buy a van in Santiago from one of the contacts we had discovered online, drive north through the Atacama desert, into Bolivia, then down through Argentina, crossing back over into Southern Chile, back up to Santiago where we would sell the van for what we paid for it (of course!) and jump on our free return flight.
I began to search for accommodation in Santiago, and was pretty floored by the prices. The hostel booking sites were showing prices in excess of $50 per night for a double room, often with shared facilities. I found slightly cheaper rates on Airbnb, but it was still going to be a lot more expensive than I’d hoped. Plus it would take some time to find the right van, organise the paperwork, insurance etc.
Then I started thinking about fuel costs and accommodation costs when we needed a break from the van. Whilst this adventure would be fun, it would take a huge chunk out of our savings even with the free flights.
In an email to my friend Kim one day I wrote, “Might see you in South America somewhere, or maybe we’ll just go to Mexico for three months and eat tacos…”
As much as I wanted to meet up with Kim, the second idea actually sounded really good. For some reason, our South American adventure seemed too big an undertaking for three months. I am meeting Hannah and Kim in India in December for a girl’s trip, hence the time restraint.
Plus, we wanted to put more effort into making an online income, and travelling around in a van wasn’t going to be conducive to that.
I joined another house sitting website, Housecarers.com and discovered a listing on the pacific coast of Mexico. We made an enquiry, but the lovely owners had already chosen sitters to mind their 3 bedroom villa near the beach.
Whilst we were a little bummed, we’d read a lot about Playa Del Carmen on Wandering Earl’s blog, located on the Caribbean coast 1 hr south of Cancun. Suddenly our intrepid adventure around South America didn’t sound half as inviting as renting an apartment near the beach, eating tacos and learning how to dive.
So we changed tack, booked the free flights to Dallas instead, then American Airlines to Cancun, the closest airport. Wandering Earl put us on to a friend of his who charges US$50 to find rental apartments at local rates, far below what is advertised online.
We’re now deciding between two studio apartments, ranging from US$500 to $600 per month. She found us a lovely 1 bedroom with all the mod-cons for $750, but I’m happy to save money on accommodation to put towards all the extras like learning to dive, Spanish lessons, and (fingers crossed) a trip across the Caribbean sea to Cuba (which I really want to do even though the flights are pretty expensive).
So that’s how we decided on Mexico. Unnecessarily complicated, and waay over thought! Hmm, sounds a little bit like me…
And now I can’t stop singing this highly annoying song:
*To all my subscribers I want to apologize if you just received a ‘guest post’ in your email inbox. It was the first paid guest post I have accepted, and I thought I had prevented it from being sent to you. Sorry, it won’t be a regular thing!*