Thursday, January 20, 2011

Where'd the money go?

Hitchhiking on a fishing boat (Ecuador to Peru)
Five years ago I considered myself very thrifty.  In fact, in and after college I lived off a few bucks a day, walking instead of taking the bus, hitchhiking rides around the West Coast, eating rice and beans and pasta with spaghetti sauce from a can.    I always loved shopping at thrift stores.  I worked at a coffee shop that got me a couple hundred bucks a month, and I worked during the summer as a bartender, which paid the rent.   I really made due with little money but still managed to drink good enough beer and visit some beautiful places.  For a while after college I worked at Yosemite as a cabin maid, cleaning the guest cabins.  My friend, who convinced me to work there, showed me the ropes and how to save as much money as possible.  I learned that often ordering two sides is cheaper than a meal and can be enough food.
Cathedral in Quito Ecuador

Children living high in the Mountains (Hiking through the Andes in Bolivia)
I got to spend a lot of time meditating, drawing, writing, and doing yoga naked on top of mountains - above the heads of tourists who probably weren't looking.  My days off were spent hiking to peaks and waterfalls.  I really got in shape mentally and phisically, and then realized that I needed to move outta there.  I was fearless and I hitchiked rides with strangers.  Heard interesting stories, like from an off-shore banker on Jersey Island near England.  Being a psychology major, I just ate this up. 
Jesuit Mission (Bolivia)
Inti Rymi festival (Peru)
Sunset over Lake Titicaca (Bolivia)
waiting for a boat while men play cards (Peru)
Playing with kids while spending a few days with the ruler of the Ashuar Indians on route to Peru
Learning Cana with the Quechua Indians (Ecuador)
Erupting Volcano in Ecuador
My friend told me she was hurt that I decided to leave Yosemite so soon.  But after slaving for a 4 year degree, I just couldn't take cleaning rooms seriously. 
After that I traveled like a free spirit to Canada, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil.  I stretched $1800 over  1 year, subsisting off of odd jobs, deal hunting with a Lonely Planet guide. braving the elements, dealing with being uncomfortable, and the kidness and intrigue of strangers.  I also had a credit card and charged everything that I could.  Still, I think my bill at the end was around $2000.  And that seemed like a lot of money to me!
Island on Lake Titicaca (Bolivia)
Now-a-days our monthly  mortgage is over $2400.  Up untill about a month ago I grasped on to the illusion that I could still consider myself thrifty.  Mostly because I still shop at thrift stores and check craigslist before buying anything new.   But who am I kidding?  I'm not thrifty at all.  Our monthly credit card bill are enormous.  Really, where does all this middle class salary go?  We sure don't have much to show for it.  Looks like it all goes on food.  Isn't that crazy!  I know I could find cheaper food if I had time to deal hunt, if I had time to cook every day, if I had time to grow more of our food, or if I wasn't such a nut for organic.  Then there are things like getting to the store to buy clothes but nothing is on sale that day.  Well that's the day that I have a babysitter so that's the day I need to buy the stuff.  I just can't be strategic with my shopping anymore, I'm too much of a disorganized wreck for that!  So we end up spending a little more.
Island on Lake Titicaca (Bolivia)
Then I heard on the radio a few weeks ago this guy, Eduardo Porter, talking about the cost of things, "The Price of Everything."  He affirmed that families pay about 20% more for goods and services for the convenience and time saving  factor.  It's true, it's not just me!  
Llamas eating at Machu Pichu

Lake Titicaca Bolivia
Well that is reassuring but it sure isn't cool.  I really got to tighten the belt, safe money and be responsible. Man how much being an adult sucks sometimes!

Llama Shamen at Machu Pichu Peru

Lake Titicaca

Another thing I don't have time for anymore..... taking beautiful pictures.  


  1. These pictures are beautiful! How did you do so much pre-kids? Aren't we the same age? Anyhow, I'm enjoying all your posts and feeling inspired. And especially jealous of this one ;)

  2. awe Vanessa thanks! I did a year of traveling after college before getting pregnant. and I kind of stumbled into the whole thing. Now it just seems like a movie I watched about some cool adventurous chick.
    and thanks your comment cheers me up on an evening when I'm feeling especially lame :).



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