Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Back home finally

No I wasn't on the ship that sunk.  It doesn't surprise me that one ran aground while I was on a large ship.  After all, I was in Hawaii for the volcanic eruption and just got out of there when the sirens were blaring due to the tsunami.  If there's an earthquake, fire, or any other disaster it always happens the day after I was there.  Anyway, some of my friends and I went on a cruise.  We were supposed to go last year except the ship's engine room caught fire and the ship just floated around until tugs were able to pull it back to shore.  That was two months before we were supposed to go but the ship was still being repaired and the cruises for several months were cancelled.  Our trip was put off until this year.  My mom and nephew were also cruising with us.  Mom has been on many cruises, nephew none.  The only other cruise I was ever on was when mom and I went from Argentina to Falklands to Antarctica and back to Argentina.  That ship had 175 passengers, this one 3,500.  Way to many people for my taste.

While my friends spent their offshore time drinking, and drinking, and drinking, I did things more useful-although they would beg to differ.  I found an English speaking taxi driver and paid for a day in the life of a real San Lucas (aka Cabo) family and also a day in life of a Puerto Vallarta family.  I wanted to learn about their life style.  How they live, what they eat, day to day activities, etc.  Sure you can read it in a book but nothing beats paying someone $50 (minimum wage in Mexico is a little less than $6.00 a day...no wonder they want to come the the US) and then going to "live with them for a day".  Now in each of those cities you can find houses just like ours and larger, but that wasn't what I was looking for.  I wanted to hang out with what we would call the lower middle class.  I didn't want the extremely poor because I didn't think I'd learn enough.

My first adventure was with a taxi driver who was born in Cabo but the family moved to Santa Rosa, California when he was very young.  They lived there until he was 11.  His parents divorced and he moved back to Cabo with his mom and five of his brothers and sisters.  Two of his brothers stayed in Santa Rosa with the father.  So his English was good and he could understand my questions.  He was now married and had a little girl. 

I went to their home and hung out with his wife and daughter.  So technically she made the money.  He was able to go back out driving the taxi for a while.  Their home was a two room apartment in a triplex.  One room was the bedroom, the other the kitchen/sitting room.  The bathroom was very small with a shower, toilet, and sink.  There wasn't any storage space in the bathroom.  The bedroom had a built in closet which he was very proud of owning.  The kitchen had a small gas stove/oven and a refrigerator that was probably about 10 cubic feet.  There was a table with chairs around it and several rocking chairs, a sofa, and a small TV.  There was a row of cabinets and also a hutch that had storage.  The stove and hot water are heated with propane. 

When I want propane for my 500 gallon tank I call up my propane guy and let him know it needs to be filled.  He will show up sometime during the week, fill the tank, and leave a bill on the back door.  Sometime within the month I'll send him the money.  That's not the way it goes there.  A truck drives around with very annoying music blaring out the speaker on top of the truck.  (Sort of like the ice cream truck) The back of the truck has propane tanks that he swaps out - they look to be about 30 gallons.  You have to flag him down, just like you do with the ice cream man.  You have to have cash.  Otherwise you wait until the next time the truck with the annoying music drives by.   They use the propane very sparingly because the price is about the same there as here.

Because the weather is good year round many of the homes don't have windows.  Now I'm not talking about the expensive homes.  I mean the homes of many of the regular folks.  They have big wooden shutters that open to the inside, which will close the place up at night but during the day the shutters are open and the world can see straight into the home.  Out in the countryside there were many homes that weren't much bigger that a storage shed.  Many of those had tin roofs and no doors or glass windows.  Other homes had tarps for the roofs. 

When taking into account how these people live in good times it's really easy to realize that we can live pretty well here in bad times.  In coming days I'll write about my cooking lessons, lousy Spanish, and my trip to Walmart. 


  1. Sounds like a great learning trip. Looking forward to the rest of the story.

  2. Sounds like went "off the beaten path" unlike your companions. I think you spent your time well. Very interesting post. Looking forward to the rest!

  3. I was so glad to see you are home again and posting! I enjoy reading the conversational way of writing which you use, it makes the learning more enjoyable.
    I only stumbled on your blog about two weeks ago, and read all the way back to the start quickly. Not only is your style of posting fun to read, but I particularly enjoy your personality and that your planning and daily living is real and accessible to use NOW...not just stockpiling and planning for when "IT" happens!
    It encourages me that you have chosen to make changes now in your daily life to contribute to your self sufficiency forever.
    So glad you are home. I am looking forward to learning more as you learn and making my families home a better safe harbor for our future.