Well, our time in Guanajuato has come to an end and it is time to move on. I think we were both pleasantly surprised by our time here and I want to provide a final recap of our budget and some tips to future visitors of Guanajuato. Many may find this post to be boring, I know Chelsea sure did, but hopefully someone somewhere will find it useful.
Safety is definitely a concern for many when considering a visit to Mexico, especially when looking outside the typical beach resort. Reading the travel advisories on the State Department website made us about 80% certain that we were going to get kidnapped in any place we chose. We spent countless hours trying to find a “safe” and “cheap” place in Mexico or Central America to study Spanish, and, while those two concepts don’t always go hand-in-hand, they certainly did in Guanajuato (one of the few states in Mexico without a travel warning). I don’t think we could have picked a better place to start out our trip. We wandered all over the city in the day and at night and always felt comfortable. We did, however, take basic precautions that we would take in any large city. We didn’t stay out super late or get wasted at bars, and we avoided areas where we had previously seen shady characters who were clearly up to no good. This is a popular city for Mexicans to vacation, and, for this reason, there is always a large police presence. Whether that makes you feel safe or not, that’s up to you, but they are always around.
The food in Guanajuato is great, but food safety is not . . . Chelsea and I love, love, love eating street tacos and other snacks, but we both got sick twice. The first time we were sick for a week and I am still recovering from the second bout. We never drank the water, always washed our fruits and vegetables, only ate at the popular-with-the-locals food stands, and never ate strawberries. On a side note, never eat strawberries here without washing them! They are commonly sold on the streets in cups with other safe, ready-to-eat fruits, but don’t let that fool you, you will get super, super sick if you start popping them in your mouth. On the upside, almost every restaurant and food stand uses bagged ice, so you can enjoy your favorite cold beverage without worrying about getting sick.
Unless you were raised on the farm or hate sleep, you will probably be sleep deprived for the first week. There are roosters everywhere. When the roosters wake up, so do the dogs, and even worse than the roosters are the church fireworks! There are 30+ Catholic churches in the city and either they all want to make you aware that it is time to get up and go to mass or perhaps they want you to start praying, I am not really sure which one. The only thing I was sure about was that I wanted them to stop. The first rockets would start booming at 4 a.m and would sometimes last well into the next morning. Eventually though, all of this noise fades into the background and you can move on with your life.
On to my favorite topic and Chelsea’s least favorite – the Budget
Overall, Guanajuato is a pretty cheap place to live. You can easily spend less than we did by cooking at home more, taking it easier on the tequila, and not spending all day at a Spanish school. We were able to rent a very nice 1-bedroom apartment with a full kitchen, dining room, living room and courtyard, including gas, WiFi and drinkable water, for $22 a night. While you can certainly find cheaper accommodations, we felt this worked perfectly for us. As we have said before, we have an average daily budget of $75, which for our 33 nights in Guanajuato comes to $2475. Mexico was never a place we had thought we could save much money because the Spanish lessons took up such a large portion of our budget, but I was surprised with how well we ate and drank and were still able to come out with a bit of money left over.
|Gear||$0.00||AVG to Budget||-$5.74|
|Entertainment||$9.89||# of Nights||33|
As you can see, we spent an average of $69 per day and had approximately $189 left over. The Transportation cost includes our flights and airport transfers. We were able to keep this cost low because we were able to get our flights on miles. We also walked everywhere and never took a cab. The Miscellaneous costs include our Spanish lessons as well as a “jomper” outfit for Chelsea. Overall I think our budget was right on and it gives me confidence we can stick to it in other countries as well.
For those of you who may be interested in the cost of basic items (as I am), here you go.
|Basic Item Prices||Peso||USD|
|Pork sandwich market (torta de carnitas)||$20.00||$1.17|
|Bottle of decent tequila 750ml||$145.00||$8.48|
|6 pack corona||$57.00||$3.33|
|5 lb of mixed fruits||$50.00||$2.93|
|1 kilo chicken breast||$85.00||$4.97|
|4 mega rolls tp||$18.00||$1.05|