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Demonisation of a nation

16 Jan

PD & JD, Xela, Guatemala

We have so much to say about what’s happened in our first week at Spanish school. Not least there is the shocking news that Jeremy is pregnant. That’s what he told his teacher anyway. She informed him it was impossible, so he turned to his dictionary to see where he’d gone wrong. Turns out the words for embarrassed (embarazarse) and pregnant (embarazada) are very similar.

But more of our schoolboy and schoolgirl errors in a few days. For now, if you don’t mind indulging us, we’d like to briefly rewind to a subject that has been in our minds for several months – and now we are out of Mexico we want to address it. It’s a subject that came up in almost every conversation we had with north Americans in California, and then in Mexico itself.

Grim reaper at roadside shrine

It's not all grim down south, you know

The brutal drugs war in Mexico has led to the entire nation being demonised in the eyes of much of the outside world, but particularly by those north of its border. It’s a deadly, grim situation – no doubt – but no one who actually travels there believes the hysteria is justified.

We were shocked at the level of fear in the US about going to Mexico. Almost everyone – there were maybe only a couple of exceptions – warned us how deadly it was, how we could be caught in the crossfire of a shoot-out, how we would be robbed in the street or in our van, how we would be car-jacked, how we would definitely be “shaken down” by corrupt police or military officials at some point, how we should carry a gun to protect ourselves, how we could be scammed by people faking road accidents, how we could have our tyres spiked by bandits, how we’d get sick on street food… the list goes on.

This wasn’t just the usual over-cautious official warnings about things that could happen – and, to be fair, all of those things can happen, in many countries in the world. It was every conversation we had. And it was hard not to be infected by it.

Most went like this:
US: “So, we’re planning on driving to Argentina in our campervan.”
THEM: “What, through Mexico?”
US: “Well, yes, there’s not really another way from here to Argentina.”
THEM: “Is it safe to drive through Mexico? I’ve read/heard/been told..” [Cue long list of things that would happen – see above].
US: “Well, thanks for the tips, we’ll let you know how it goes or perhaps you’ll read about it in the newspaper.”

One particularly worrying conversation was with a Latin American guy, Angel, who worked at the dealership at which we bought our campervan. When we told him of our plans he said: “What, through Mexico? Wow, that’s brave.”

I asked which country he was from. “Mexico,” he said. Gulp.

Iguanas, Chichen Itza

I forgot to mention that iguanas are another fabulous thing about Mexico. What's not to like?

Once we were on our way the evidence of fear was all around us – there has been a huge drop in the number of tourists coming from the US, and it shows. While many places were still thriving, we did see virtually abandoned trailer parks where campers and cars sat gathering mildew, rust and leaves because their owners – who would normally go south to Mexico every winter – had obviously not returned for years.

Those that continued to travel there, and US expats that had remained, said they always received the most dire warnings from friends and family who had never actually been to Mexico. They usually blamed the media for its reporting of the drugs war as being over-the-top and terrifying the hell out of everyone.

However, the conflict is real, and we don’t want to try to diminish the effect it has had, with thousands dying every year because of a brutal gang warfare and the government’s response to it. We also don’t want to be so naïve as to claim that just because we spent three months there without incident that there are therefore no problems at all.

The point is that it does not affect every area of the country, and the violence is not targeted at tourists. Many parts of Mexico rely on tourism and it is sad to see people struggling because of a problem that is not of their making. Drugs are a global issue. What market are these gangs feeding? Where does the root of the problem really lie?

Mexico is a vast, varied, modern, culturally-rich, beautiful, welcoming country – a country that is more like several nations within one. It also has loads of problems and its share of crime – who doesn’t?

To characterise it simply as a homogenous violent, dangerous, brutal place is just plain lazy.

Days: 105
Miles: 5740
Things we now know to be true: We love Mexico

Bienvenidos a Guatemala

8 Jan

PD, Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala

Hello country number two.

We finished off three months in Mexico with a few days of spectacular stuff in Chiapas. Spectacular mountain scenery, lakes and waterfalls, some spectacularly bad weather (and some good) and a spectacular near-miss involving a falling tree.

After new year we set off from San Cristobal to check out a few of the more rural parts of the region, starting with the “turquoise lakes” of the Lago de Montebello area. We drove through torrential rain and misty mountains – it felt like the sky was almost touching the van at times – and pulled in to a place on the edge of Lago de Tziscao in the late afternoon. The camping area was by the lake, which – judging by the fact that some of the waterside cabins were half-submerged – looked like it had risen rather a lot in recent weeks.

We pulled up and dithered for a while about stopping nearish to the edge of the water. But it was raining hard and we were worried about getting stranded in mud, or ending up in the lake, by the next morning. We pulled back about 20ft and settled in to hide from the weather for a while. A nice wee cuppa and a relax for a bit, ahh. Our peace was interrupted when about 45 minutes later a 40ft tree crashed to the ground right across the spot we’d originally parked in. We stared, looked at eachother, looked back at the tree, looked at eachother again and laughed nervously. “That’s where we were parked wasn’t it?” I said. “Yes”.

Tree falls in front of van, Lago Tziscao

Crash! Jeremy ponders what might have been

We turned around and drove back up to a concrete parking area, away from the trees. Good decision, because the next morning two more came loose in the soggy ground, creaked, groaned and slammed to the ground. Oh!

The lakes were beautiful, not really turquoise in that weather, but more like moody Scottish lochs in the winter. After visiting them we drove on the next day to a gorgeous little community eco-tourism place, Las Nubes, built around a gushing river and dramatic waterfalls. Jeremy swallowed his vertigo and bravely crossed the very wobbly bridge traversing the most dramatic canyon and falls.

The skies cleared, sunshine again! It was so lovely we stayed an extra night, walked, and dried out. The friendly night guards were fascinated by our van and came for a long hard look inside. Some people seem to find it hard to believe we live in there. When we ask for a space to “camp” for the night in our “casa movil” (mobile home) they often look around as if to say “ok, but where is it?”.

We have been through many routine and military checkpoints on our trip so far, and when the vehicle is searched there is usually more interest in our little “casa” than a serious quest for contraband. We are always careful to be polite and sensible though, as you never know if the conversation is going to take a turn.

One of the more thorough military checks was while we were in Chiapas, an area known for political tensions, so we wanted to give a good impression. Jeremy got out and answered the officer’s questions, showed our paperwork and whatnot. After it was over we pulled away. Jeremy looked down at his feet and realised he was wearing two different shoes – a Converse boot on the right foot, a walking shoe on the left. Those kooky Brits! I’m not going to explain why, you can make up your own theories.

Our last night in Mexico was perfect, pretty much summing up the friendliness of the people and the beauty of the country. We were cutting it a bit fine again, trying to find a camping spot before dark. We followed a sign off the road, near the Guatemalan border, to a laguna we hadn’t heard of. As we pondered over whether to park in a public car park area, an old woman appeared from behind a little shop and beckoned us to drive in behind their gates. At the back of the shop was a little lakeside area, with basic rooms plus palapas, tables and BBQs for daytrippers. For £1.50 we camped there, safe and sound, birds tweeting and bats swooping, with the laguna right in front of us, shining in the moonlight.

P has a rinse at Lagunas de Colon

Quick head rinse in the Laguna before we leave for Guatemala

Next morning we said goodbye to Mexico. The old lady said: “Can’t you stay another day?”. But we couldn’t, we had to get to Guatemala, we had school on Monday!

The border crossing was mildly chaotic and confusing, but we were prepared for it and survived the hoopla of paperwork, getting through in a couple of hours. As we pulled off, having completed everything, we were directed towards a detour around the village which took us down, around and then back up, one of the most terrifyingly steep and narrow streets we have yet encountered. Could this really be an international border? For the umpteenth time we thanked our lucky stars that we had chosen a small vehicle with a bit of oomph to it.

So here we are in Quetzaltenango, more commonly known as Xela. We have booked one month of Spanish classes, and have opted to live with a local family. We will register and be taken to the house later today, and then start classes at 8am tomorrow.

The school is an non-profit organisation which uses its surplus to work with human rights groups and social projects. As well as learning Spanish, students are also taught about the economic and social problems in Guatemala.

It might be a tough four weeks for our ageing brains, but we’re really looking forward to it and are determined to make the most of the experience.

We’ll let you know how it goes. Hasta luego.

Days: 97
Miles: 5597.4
Things we now know to be true: Just because we’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean the trees aren’t all out to get us.

Even bees wear balaclavas in Chiapas

2 Jan

PD, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

We’re not used to big nights out any more. These days it’s usually a couple of beers as darkness falls at 6ish, dinner and early to bed. But for new year we made an exception, of course. We started off as usual at 6pm, to toast the UK new year, and carried on right through to the Mexican one.

The latter part of the evening was spent watching a fantastically energetic Chiapan band at the Cafe Bar Revolucion in San Cristobal – we’re nothing if not predictable. The night finished off with a spectacularly ill-advised tequila when we got back to the van. Ouch. What I would have given for a greasy sausage sandwich with HP sauce on new year’s day morning.

Wedding ceremony, San Cristobal de las Casas, 31 Dec 2011

A Mayan wedding ceremony was taking place in front of the cathedral on New Year's Eve, San Cristobal de las Casas

Here we are at the centre of Zapatista territory, in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. We loved the sprit of the place when we came 10 years ago and it hasn’t disappointed this time. New Year is the anniversary of a 1994 uprising that grabbed the attention of the world, so what better place to see in 2012? 

This town has everything – the revolutionary vibe, a thriving music scene, great locally-grown coffee, and an amazing mountain setting with colourful buildings that glow in the evening sun. And it’s gone all trendy since we last visited, with oh-so-cool wine bars, cafes and restaurants and shops selling EZLN paraphernalia to people like us. We’ve even bought some honey made by a Zapatista co-operative. The bee on the label is wearing a tiny balaclava.

All-in-all it’s been not a bad little haven for a few days after several weeks of being on the move. Even the chilly evenings and mornings haven’t been enough to drive us away, although getting into the erratic hot-cold shower has required something of a superhuman effort.

And after a few quiet weeks we have been glad to meet some fantastic like-minded people here. First we had a night out with some UK friends who coincided with us for one day on their way home from a three-month trip in Guatemala. And on our lovely wooded campsite we’ve had great chats with two other road-tripping couples from Arkansas and British Columbia, and spent New Year’s day evening chewing the fat around a fire, accompanied by hair of the dog.

To add to all that San Cristobal has, there are also some fascinating indigenous villages in the surrounding hills. We returned to one, San Juan Chamula, this week. It’s known for its central church, at which people of the indigenous Tzotzil group practice a curious blend of Catholicism and traditional pre-Hispanic ceremonies. Inside, small groups of worshippers were huddled on the floor, which is carpeted with fresh pine branches and lined with hundreds of little candles, creating a heady aroma.

In one group a man chanted and rubbed eggs and herbs over a little girl’s head. They each swigged from a bottle of Coke, to induce burping which they believe cleanses their bodies. As they rose to leave we heard a cluck-cluck-squawk and noticed the grandmother was carrying a live chicken, which had stayed inexplicably quiet during the whole ritual.
But, for us, the most bizarre part of the ceremonies at this church is the relationship between the group’s religion and Coca Cola. Crate upon crate of the stuff is drunk every day in the church, truck loads of it are present around the town square and people sit around the little cafes supping on it. It’s hard not to let the cynic in us wonder if some marketing man at Coke really has done the unthinkable and convinced this population the drink has health-giving and spiritual properties.

Band playing at Cafe Bar Revolucion, San Cristobal de las Casas, 31 Dec 2011

The band played out 2011 at Cafe Bar Revolucion

New year is traditionally a time for both reflection and looking forward. We’ve been three months on the road in Mexico now, and are preparing to cross into Guatemala next week to start a month of Spanish school in the highland city of Quetzaltenango. More of that later.

What a three months it has been. We’ve had so much to learn about living in the van and all that entails – keeping the vehicle happy, mastering the quirks of the ‘house’ appliances and working out how to fix the things that have broken – or, to be more specific, that Jeremy has broken! As well as all the sight-seeing and galavanting most days involve waking up somewhere unfamiliar and having to find one or all of the following – food, water to drink, water to wash in, toilets, petrol, propane, and – most importantly – a safe place to bed down for the night and the right road to get there.

Those accommodations have ranged from the blissful sunny beaches of Baja and Yucatan, to gorgeous mountain towns with freezing mornings that make it hard to part with the duvet, to sleeping at a noisy petrol station/truck stop in the pissing rain and wondering where that leak is coming from… and many things in between.

Do we feel unbelievably lucky to be able to do this trip? Yes. There have been so many amazing highs, incredible sights and lots of laughs, and we’ve barely really begun. By the end of 2012 we should have reached the northern part of South America, and it’s hard to imagine all the adventures ahead.
Are there frustrations, little tantrums and scary bits? Sometimes. Is loud swearing sometimes heard in the van? Yes. Do we miss our lovely families and friends, and cat? Absolutely.

Do we have any regrets about taking this leap? Nope.

Happy new year everyone

And here are some more pics for your perusal:

Flickr: Patzcuaro to Mexico City

Days: 91
Miles: 5,152.2
Things we now know to be true: Socialist honey tastes much sweeter.

Feliz Navidad

25 Dec

PD, Campeche, Mexico

Christmas day, Campeche

Taking it easy - 25 December 2011, Campeche, Mexico

Merry Christmas to all! Thanks for following the blog so far, and to those who are lucky enough to be off work, we hope you all have a relaxing and delicious holiday. We’ve de-camped to a hotel in beautiful Campeche, and have enjoyed a Christmas morning swim. It’ll be chocolate for lunch, and something tasty involving refried beans and tortillas for dinner.

And as our gift to you, here’s the latest (albeit belated) set of pics, charting some of our exploits between Mazatlan and Guadalajara last month. You might notice I particularly enjoyed taking pics of cowboys at the rodeo..

Flickr pics: Mazatlan-Guadalajara

Is a snowman made of sand still a snowman?

21 Dec

JD, Chelem, nr Puerto Progreso, Mexico

We had calculated that driving a white VW van would help us blend in – but we never counted on this. We do blend in. The collectivos which run between and around every town, village and city are all white, many are VWs.

So on an almost daily basis someone tries to flag us down to help them home with their shopping. Once or twice we’ve even stopped, explained we’re not a collectivo but that if they are going the same way as us they are welcome to jump in.

Snowman made of sand

Not so much frosty the snowman, as sweaty the sandman

Being mistaken for a Mexican bus is just one of the strange happenings we’ve had to contend with over the past couple of weeks. Dogs that enjoy chasing cars, or napping on the road, are a hazard we could do without.

How to avoid crashing in to thousands of people – young and old, many barefoot – pounding the narrow city streets, running over mountain passes and cycling along the motorway with huge statues of the Virgin of Guadalupe tied to their backs and flaming torches in their hands was not something that was in my driving test.

But all that’s as nothing compared to the coconut which plummeted to earth inches from my head and smashed on the ground seconds after Paula uttered the immortal words – “apart from the obviously bad things about having to tell people you were dead, imagine how embarrassing it would be if I had to say you’d been killed by a falling coconut”.

That, and her whacking me with a book whilst I was driving – on the flimsy pretext of killing a mosquito – has got me worried.

In between dodging falling fruit and unwelcome rain storms we’ve hit the heart of the Mayan world on the Yucatan peninsula. Suddenly there are tour buses and package holidays and lots of touts and whilst none of that is welcome the amazing white sand beaches and incredible ruins more than make up for it.

The jungle-shrouded ruined cities at Balamku and Calakmul were amazing. Forty-metre high temples with incredible views across forests that echoed to the sounds of monkeys and woodpeckers in the upper reaches of the canopy. And best of all they were almost deserted.

Not so at Tulum – one of the major Mayan sites – which is spectacularly located on a cliff above a white sand beach and turquoise sea. Later that day we swam and snorkelled in a picture-postcard cenote – basically a large sinkhole with amazing colours and caverns so deep you are sure some mythical creature MUST live down there.

At Coba – described by our guide book as like being in Raiders of the Lost Ark – we climbed Nochol-Mul, at 42m high the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan. Regular readers of the blog will realise when I say we, I mean P. She climbs, takes the picture and that way I get to see the incredible view without the vertigo.

At Chichen Itza we again rose early to beat the tour buses and took in the full splendour of the most perfect 25-metre high pyramid and temple virtually alone. The site, unlike many others, has been extensively restored, but it is spectacular and you can see what all the fuss is about.

Mayan ruins at Tulum

The Mayan ruins at Tulum have got a pretty spectacular location

In between lapping up Mayan culture we’ve had a few days basking in the sun at lovely beaches – Xpu-Ha and El Pescadero – and stopping off to sample a bit of life in smaller off-the-beaten-track towns such as Izamal, Isla Aguarda and Laguna Bacalar.

At the latter we were lost in the dark, again, looking for a ‘campsite’ of which we had read – a un-signposted field in which a Mexican family lived, next to the laguna. Cynics that we are, we don’t believe in guardian angels as such. But as we circled the area despondently a car came up close, weaving slightly, and started flashing its lights behind us. We pulled over reluctantly. Wasn’t this kind of thing in the book of ‘things not to do in Mexico?’.

We waited. A white-haired man got out and approached us, then started singing ‘California here I come’ – in reference to our licence plates – as he bounded up to the window. It was Tony, a very drunk Liverpudlian-Canadian who lived in the area and had seen us cruising around looking lost. He knew what we were looking for, he said, got back into his car and guided us there to a friendly welcome from the owners.

We offered him a tequila to say thanks. Appreciating he was already well imbibed, he politely refused and slunk off into the night as suddenly as he had appeared. Earthly angels do exist then, and they are Liverpudlian apparently.

And as John Lennon once said… and so this is Christmas. Well, not quite but you get the laboured journalistic link there. And, in keeping with recent events, for us this will be a strange one… thousands of miles from home.

It seems somewhat incongruous to see a ‘snowman’ made from sand on a blisteringly sunny beach or a light-up Santa adorning the edge of the swimming pool at our current camp site in Puerto Progreso. But don’t worry, in keeping with tradition we intend to eat too much, drink too much and fall asleep in front of a film.

Days: 79
Miles: 4,494.2 [We have put in a bumper crop of miles since last blogging. We’d like to show you that on a map, but ours is currently broken and awaiting repair.]
Things we think might be true: Just because your wife puts your chair under a coconut tree, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s trying to kill you.

Luxury hotels make us sick

6 Dec

PD, Cholula, Mexico

Happy birthday Jeremy!

So the last week or so has been one of contrasts. We spent much of it in a luxury hotel, and some of it in busy hostels, in Mexico City. Some of the contrasts with van life were not what we expected. We felt worse, for one thing.

We were at a posh hotel because we were working at an international union conference there. And of course we accepted the gratis king size bed and deliciously tasteful en-suite, as well as the limitless supply of coffee and cakes, with gratitude.

Jeremy at Trotsky's house, Mexico City

A Trot pays tribute, Coyoacan, Mexico City

But the thing is, we missed the van. I know, I think we are weird too. And by the time we left that hermetically-sealed air-conditioned hotel four days later we were head-achey, bleary eyed and feeling rather lethargic.

Some might say we are just allergic to work these days, or that the altitude of Mexico City – at 2,240m – was the problem. But I’m sticking to the original theory – luxury hotels just make us sick. On the upside, we are now stocked up on enough soap and body lotion to last us until 2013.

After the conference we spent the rest of the weekend exploring. Mexico City fizzes with energy – walking around involves weaving through packed avenues of shouty street-food vendors, political protesters, musicians, shoppers, tourists and – at the moment – Christmas shops. Preparations are in full swing and we were around for the big festive light switch-on on Saturday, with a tree the size of a skyscraper in the Zocalo.

We structured our sight-seeing around the inspirational Diego Rivera, Frida Khalo and Leon Trotsky set. Gazing at the murals, artwork and homes of the three takes you to astonishing buildings and one of the hippest suburbs of the city, but also illustrates so much about the cultural, political and social history of Mexico – and beyond – as well as the incredibly alluring times the three lived and died in themselves.

We paid a second tribute to Trotsky at the house where he was finally murdered, having visited 10 years ago – well, it’s not possible to have too much of Trotsky. Unless you’re a Stalinist, I suppose.

Much as we love the city, it was a relief to navigate our way out of it, hit the road again, and feel the wind on our cheeks.

We have spent most of the last month or so in towns and cities. We are currently camped near Cholula, which not only shares a name with our favourite Mexican condiment, but is a suburb of the beautiful multi-coloured city of Puebla.

And for a couple of atheists we are spending an awful lot of time in churches and cathedrals. As anyone who has visited a Spanish colonial-designed town will know, they are the literal and cultural heart of every village, town and city.

Christmas lights switch-on, Zocala, Mexico City

The Zocalo was packed for the big festive switch-on

They are, almost without exception, beautiful places to visit and an important part of Latin America’s history. But they do stir up the same old questions time and again. How did the colonisers manage to convert, on such a breathtaking scale, the indigenous people of an entire region? Those that they didn’t kill or enslave, or both, I mean.

There are still some communities that reject Catholicism, but proportionally very few.

And how does the Church justify the obscene opulence of so many of their places of worship, while so many of their worshippers still languish in abject poverty? If this is not too simplistic, are those things necessary for prayer or perhaps – maybe – could some of those gold-adorned statues, blindingly shiny chandeliers or priceless paintings be utilised to help people in some way?

It’s not only churches we are seeing in their hundreds. We’ve noticed a few other things that are prolific in every town. Mexicans must worship shoes too. We’ve never seen so many shoe shops. And wedding dress shops. And dogs in clothing. In one incident, near Mexico City, we saw a dog in a dress and pink bootees. The dog looked mortified – if I’d known the number for the Mexican RSPCA I would have phoned them.

There is no photographic evidence so you’ll have to take my word for it. Talking of pictures, one friend emailed this week to say she was boycotting our photos because they were depressing her more and more, as the Scottish winter closes in.

So it’s just as well I’ve fallen so far behind on uploading any photos onto Flickr. You won’t believe me if I say I’ve been too busy, so let’s just say I’m being kind.

Days: 64
Miles: 3,100.6
Things we now know to be true: It doesn’t matter if shoes are a national obsession, that’s no excuse for putting them on a dog.

Sod ’em and Zamora

29 Nov

JD, Mexico City, Mexico

The more observant amongst you will have noticed that we have added a map to the blog. The most observant will notice that said map consists of a single line following the roads we drove from place A to place B.

Let’s call it ‘creative mapping’. Had we added all the u-turns, dead-ends and the numerous circuits around ring roads while looking for the right exit, it would have given us RSI, been dizzying for you and made our beautiful map look like a child’s scribble or bad etch-a-sketch.

Talking of endless tours around ring roads we never want to go to Zamora again… I don’t want to talk about it. Suffice it to say it shall forever be known to us as sod’ em and Zamora!

Rodeo in Guadalajara

Yee ha: One Guadalajara highlight was spending an afternoon at the rodeo

But getting lost is just a small – and inevitable – part of an increasingly wonderful journey as we travel through the heart of Mexico. From the stunning silver city of Zacatecas to the buzz of Guadalajara, the picturesque indigenous town of Patzcuaro and on to the constantly amazing Mexico City – one of our favourite cities in the world.

Along the way we’ve over-indulged in our favourite past-time – people-watching – at the rodeo; joined in cheering for the good guys and booing the bad at the temple of kitsch, Lucha Libre; been confused by a rural roadside zimmer frame stall (do they get much passing trade?); and indulged in feasts of spiced-up tacos, ostrich fajitas and melt-in-the-mouth burritos. Oh, and the famous sweets of Morelia – chilli tamarind truffle anyone?

All these ingredients ensure life in the van is never dull. Over the past couple of weeks we’ve camped in beautiful bird-filled gardens and at petrol stations, creepy deserted campsites and hotel car parks with stunning views overlooking the city. And we’re kept busy pondering why the check engine light has come on again, why the doors have started locking by themselves, why the driver’s door has stopped opening or…

Jeremy, Salon Corona, Mexico City

Salon Corona, Mexico City: Mexican league football can be as nail-bitingly tense as a Spurs game

But for a few days we’re leaving van life behind. We’ve done the unthinkable and driven right in to the heart of Mexico City (population estimated at a mere 20 million). Not bad for someone who only passed their driving test less than a year ago!

We’ve got a few days work covering an international trade union conference and are booked in to the conference hotel (the room actually has a bath – which measures about the same as our whole living space in the van!!).

On Sunday night, over a few draft beers and the best tacos we’ve yet had, we congratulated ourselves on the first 3,000 miles, making it safely to Mexico City and meeting the only deadline we had.

Days: 57
Miles: 3,021.1
Things we always knew to be true: Posh hotels are outrageous. [Bottle of water in our room = 55 pesos. The 10 tacos we had for lunch before we got here = 50 pesos.]