Saturday, September 26, 2015

Party Hardy

"Hey Man, are we still partyin'?"
                                                        -Ben Hungerford, 5am, in the hottub the night after we got married                                              

Yes! We are still partying. We (city of San Miguel De Allende) have been partying since before Independence Day. This weekend the celebrations continued with honoring Saint Michael the Archangel.

Since living in Mexico, we've started to feel bad for those countries who have to wait for their one time a year to blow their party wad. Carnaval. New Years Eve. Oktoberfest. Holi. White Nights.

In Mexico there's a solid chance that someone is celebrating something if the day ends in "Y".  If the day ends in "Y" and it's September, you have a better chance at finding a  fiesta/parade/festival  to join than stumbling across a taco at a Mexican buffet.

During the entire celebration, fireworks are being lit by way of cigarette of course.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cruising sans health insurance

Every month we post our Cost to Cruise and just about every month someone will ask, "Where's the health insurance amount you spend?". Americans cannot fathom going without health insurance because it costs an arm and leg just to get a band-aid in the States. Almost everywhere else in the world medical expenses are reasonable and people don't have to file bankruptcy due to medical expenses.

Since we left the U.S., we have self-insured (paid out of pocket) for everything medical. It's refreshing to know before walking into a medical office exactly what the procedure is going to cost. No deductibles,  no co-pays, no waiting 6 months for an explanation of benefits to arrive only to test your intelligence. Put down the abacus. It's easy.

Family visit to the dermatologist, a must for those who live on a boat.

Actually, it's almost not fair how easy it's been to self-insure in a country where medical expenses are reasonable. Gone are the days of waiting on hold for 3 hours in hopes that someone can explain why expenses aren't being paid to the Dr., hence why you're being sent to collections and wanting to jab a pencil through your left eye. The only reason not to pluck out your left eye with a pencil is because somewhere in clause 58, section 32, paragraph 3, about the 85th line down it states "any medical expenses incurred as a result of being on hold with said insurance company as a result of frustration will not be covered".

If you find yourself in Mexico and need medications, head to Farmacia Similares! There is no need for a script for most items. For anything requiring a script there is a Dr. in the pharmacy that would be happy to write you one for about $2.50. The best part about Farmacia Similares? There are days where you can get up to 25% OFF of already cheap drugs! In S.M.A., Monday is our day to stock up on anything we need.  Farmacia Similares offers generics at a fraction of the price that the huge Guadalajara pharmacy offers. Yes, Guadalajara pharmacies are big and pretty, but they cost over twice as much!!

Here are some of the costs we have paid since living in Mexico:

Aimee: Dental exam, X-Ray and tooth extraction in La Cruz.  Grand Total $25 USD
Family: Dermatology exam and procedure for Phil in SMA.  Grand Total $187 USD
Family: Teeth cleaning and fluoride treatment for kids in SMA.  Grand Total $167 USD
Emma: Full panoramic dental X-ray in SMA.  Grand Total $17 USD

A bonus to living where there's a gaggle of expat senior citizens is  exceptionally good health care. Had we not wanted professionals with American board certifications who spoke perfect English we could have saved money for most of our health care visits.

EDIT: If you are wondering about the Affordable Care Act tax penalties, we are thankfully exempt since we will be living abroad for at least 330 days of a 12 month period. For more information on exemptions for U.S. citizens living abroad click HERE.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Cost to Cruise ---AUGUST 2015

We finally had a month living on land that didn't break the budget. With parent's visiting throughout the month, it helped offset some of our costs. Living on land has proven to be more expensive, as we are paying for boat storage and the added expense of an apartment.

September is shaping up to be another budget-buster of a month, because we took advantage of a good local dentist to clean our pearly whites and had to put a new transmission in the car. Last week reminded us of why we hate owning cars.

 Less than 2 weeks and we're back to the boat!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Viva Mexico!

Mexico's Independence Day celebrations lived up to all the hype we had been hearing about for months. San Miguel De Allende has been partying all week with yesterday as it's grand finale.  We only caught the last 6 hours of celebration which included the highly anticipated fireworks finale that started late in the evening.

First, was the reenactment of the Mexico's "Ride of Independence" complete with men dressed in insurgent costumes, horses and villagers.  

After dinner, we came out to find traditional dancers and music in the middle of the Jardin. 

One doesn't need to know much about Mexico to know this country has a serious love affair with firecrackers. S.M.A. put on a fireworks show that would have had any OSHA representative on the verge of a full-blown panic attack. Hundreds of fireworks were set up on towers that spun, twirled and threw sparks into the crowd. All of this was followed by some of the largest fireworks ever seen directly overhead. Directly overhead. The whole crowd was dodging burning pieces of falling fireworks while enjoying the show. 

Faces of Mexico's Independence heros in fireworks. 

We officially have less than 2 weeks before we head back to the boat. Leaving S.M.A. is going to be tough, we've had a great time while spending the summer here. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Making do with underperforming solar panels

What happens when life gives you limes (there are no lemons in Mexico...seriously)? You add some tequila and get on with your day! It wasn't but a few weeks after we left California that we came to realize that our solar panels weren't going to cut the mustard. 

Our panels should produce about 390 watts of electricity, but being that they're about 10 years old we're probably not getting our full 390 watts...understatement! Replacing solar panels was on our never-ending list of things to replace before we left. As with any list of boat projects, the list seems to regenerate itself and eventually you have to make the decision to stop hemorrhaging from the wallet and just cut the dock lines.

A few weeks into sailing down the Baja Penninsula we started to notice that the freezer ran constantly and we were needing to run the engine to charge the battery bank from the alternator. The warmer the weather and ocean temperature, the more the freezer ran. If you own a diesel engine you know that they don't appreciate being run at idle without a load. What to do?

We could continue to run the engine without a load, to keep up with the demands of the freezer or we could spend money to replace the solar panels. Solar panels are said to be less expensive in Mexico, but where were we going to find them? Buying new solar panels would mean sitting in a marina (yuck!) spending more money and having to deal with the whole solar panel fiasco. 

"I guess we can always forgo the freezer." Our freezer was pulling 20 amps!  One look in the freezer revealed a lonely bag of frozen peas and a few chicken breasts. Decision made. We opted to decommission the freezer in an effort to save energy and not have to replace our entire solar panel array.

Phil, serving up my made from scratch (you read that right) Earth Day cookies.

How did that work out, you ask? Great, actually. We never had anything fun in the freezer to start. No ice. No popsicles. No problem.  We did need to make a few adjustments to live without the option of a freezer. 

A galley with a view.
Sailing without a freezer means you have to plan out meals. Before heading off to provision, I know which meals I will make for the next 10-14 days. On provisioning days and prior to passages, we will spend the rest of the afternoon cooking all of the meat that we bought. It's worked out well to only stand in a hot galley cooking up meat one day rather than cooking over a hot stove every day. Ground beef is cooked and put into Ziplock containers with a screw on top. Any food container on a boat needs to have a screw on top. Chicken is divided, some for the grill and some for chopped into chunks and cooked. The cooked meat will last much longer than raw meat and it is also much safer to store.

We have Ziplock containers in all sizes, which make for easy storage. Some of the smaller containers we have labeled as to what the cooked meat is to be used for, along with a reference page in our cookbook for the complete recipe. Having all of our meat precooked is easier for everyone to be able to grab and go. Chunked cooked chicken can easily be added to salads, burritos, quesadillas, or spread on nachos. It's easy to toss some precooked meat into the pan to quickly reheat if necessary. Quick and easy meals are your friend when you are on passage.

We don't have a microwave either. The best tasting popcorn is made on the stovetop.

We took the decommissioned freezer and turned it into a storage space for all of the baking goods. Finding a home for the baking ingredients was proving difficult as all of it needs to be away from heat. Placing everything baking related in the freezer which is next to the fridge keeps everything nice and cool. 

Without the freezer, we now produce enough energy to keep our battery fully charged and everything else running. Do we miss it? Not really. By planning ahead and precooking, we have not changed our meal plans much at all. Also, our fridge stays cold enough to keep all of our beer frosty!

Jessica caught smiling while doing the dishes.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The many doors of San Miguel De Allende

One Door
Two Door

Red Door
Blue Door

Black Door

Blue Door

Old Door

New Door

Green Door

Orange Door

Purple Door

Brown Door

Short Door

Tall Door

Brown Door
Round Door

Fancy Door

Gray Door

See through Door

Fake Door

Door with Dog

Door with "The Hog"

Covered Door

Humble Door

Periwinkle Door

Faded Door
Good luck getting into this Door

A door with no handles Door

So which door, was our door?