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Current Location: Placencia apartment, day 21

08.12.10

Price of beer in a bar: Who cares? Traveler’s Gold Rum is US$4.75 a fifth, 76 proof and tastes like butterscotch. But beers out still run US$1.50 during happy hour and about US$2.25 during the rest of the day.
Song currently stuck in my head: IRM (Charlotte Gainsbourg)

David Byrne once said “People will remember you better if you always wear the same outfit.” I take solace in this as my wardrobe degrades and my options slowly dwindle from chemical exposure (DEET, antiperspirant, sunscreen, etc), perpetual sweat, rough wash cycles and line drying in the brutal sun. I didn’t pack any new apparel, though some things were recently purchased second hand. I intentionally brought a number of things that I intended to wear a few times and throw away, but a lot of people set out with this plan and most of them end up clutching to the threadbare t shirt until the bitter end. When you’ve consolidated down this far, every item feels like it matters even when you’d be better off without it. I brought somewhere between 15 and 20 pairs of underwear and I’m glad I did. Nothing extends your time between washes (saving time, money and hassle) like extra socks and underwear and they’re likely to be the smallest and lightest apparel in your kit.

Six years ago I bought a used pair of New Balance hiking boots for US$2.50 at a thrift store; they were near perfect in shape and fit. I haven’t used them much in the interim, but I did pull them out and put them through the paces, literally, for a couple of months before I left. They seemed to be in top form, but two weeks ago I had to nearly rebuild them with repeated applications of contact cement. They lasted exactly 8 minutes in Placencia, where some combination of heat and the “boot stuck in mud” feeling of walking in sand with a heavy pack pried the soles off of each shoe on the walk from the bus to guesthouse. My sandals having been giving me foot trouble (Pro tip: don’t move out of a second floor walk-up in sandals; it tends to put some stress on the Achilles) since the heel is worn down slightly lower than the ball. That’s all okay; I brought these things to get me by until I could replace them with local goods. I’m waiting for just the right pair of knock off Crocs (which seem to be popular amongst natives and expats alike; only the backpackers are trendy enough to scoff). The things are indestructible (a single, injection molded piece with no stitching or adhesives) and ultra-lightweight. I try real hard to care that they look stupid and always find that my efforts fall short.

The girlfriend and I are hiding from The Sun today, recuperating from yesterday’s overexposure during a snorkeling trip to a local caye (pictures forthcoming). The snorkeling was fair to good, though the currents were too strong to consider it leisurely. The tour company, Avadon, came highly recommended by everyone we talked to. The level of service was high; they arranged local transportation, served a continental breakfast on the (big, clean, modern, well appointed) boat, made a terrific lunch and addressed all of our concerns directly. This all came in at about US$65 per person, though I’m told locals (including expats) often negotiate a lower rate or package deal.

Earlier in the week we toured real estate offerings with a friend and local agent. The options were impressive and the prices were reasonable, if beyond our current means. We met a local contractor named Dan and toured two of his projects; one completed and one in progress. Both were far up on the high end; gorgeous with big open floor plans and luxury touches. Dan builds the furniture for the houses as well and each place had it’s own consistent aesthetic that surrounded you throughout the tour. Both were nicer than the houses of anyone I’ve ever known, save one guy.

Our spending remains on track for our budget. We’re probably looking at US$1100 for the month, rent included. About US$150 of that is booze, since drinking at Barefoot is by far the most popular social activity in town. I usually drink to get drunk, if only a little, so I’ll need to either socialize less or recalibrate my intake and cultivate the habits of a social drinker. We’ll see.

After we move on I’ll put together a summary of Placencia with more real estate and spending info, as well as post the raw numbers, but right now I’m hungry. Take care.

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2 Responses to “Current Location: Placencia apartment, day 21”

  1. LoMo Says:

    I tried on some toe shoes in Maine but didn’t get em. They’re comfy, but very Made in China. For US$220 I have to expect at least a year of use.
    I thought you were aiming for $1000/month.

    • cgearhart Says:

      US$220? I hope they called you afterward (mine ran less than half that, the website prices are similar). The build quality on mine has proven reassuringly high so far. Also, I did a lot of swimming in them yesterday and they felt pretty natural.

      Ideally we’ll find somewhere to live that costs about US$1k a month, but keep in mind:

      1) that’s a soft target
      2) these visits will cost more (shorter term rentals, less familiarity, etc)
      3) only the living expenses are included in that estimated goal (things like the bus ride from Belmopan are not, since that expense would not recur monthly)

      If it costs an extra US$50 or US$100 to make things enjoyable, that’s the number we need to know. Knowing that life is almost pleasant at US$1000 is less useful then knowing it’s highly enjoyable at US$1100.


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