Friday, March 11, 2016

eating through the cash

Expatriates are dependent upon financial forces far beyond our control.

Those of us who migrated south from The States usually rely upon revenue streams denoted in US dollars. Social Security. Pensions. Investments in American brokerage firms.

But we buy things in Mexico with pesos. Because that is what our neighbors accept as currency. (We will ignore the uber-tourist haunts of Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, and Baja California where dollars are shoveled into pockets at an alarming rate.)

My financial exchanges mainly take place at the ATM. Most of my money is still deposited in an American bank -- in dollars. The ATM will spit out bills in pesos at the current exchange rate -- less the taxes and fees that the ATM retains for its provided convenience.

My daily withdrawal limit is $500 (US) when I use my northern bank debit card at an ATM. In the seven years I have lived here, the number of pesos that are disgorged from the maw of the ATM seems to be almost capricious. From a low of 11 pesos for each dollar to a high (this past month) or almost 20 pesos for each dollar.

Two weeks ago, I could withdraw about $9200 (Mx). My withdrawal today enriched me by $8800 (Mx).

I have been accumulating pesos to deposit in my peso account at the local bank -- something I had intended to do later today. And I most likely still will.

But fate has intervened. No, not just fate -- fate in a fur coat.

You have already been regaled with tales of how Barco deals with boredom (spanish tales). Plants, screens, and furniture can always be remodeled when the devil finds work for idle mouths.

For the past two nights, I have had only a few hours of sleep. Two nights ago, the temperature dropped into the mid-50s (it was beautiful). Because there was no need for it, I turned off the fan.

Without the fan running, Barco could hear every dog in Barra de Navidad barking. And, having just attained his big boy voice, he had to announce to the world that he had territory under his protection. That went on all night. I spent most of what should have been my sleep time retrieving him into the bedroom.

Last night, he spent the night vomiting in short little bursts. That meant taking him into the courtyard and then cleaning up after him. Once again, giving up my sleep time.

So, I was a bit tired this afternoon. I decided to take a siesta before I took my pesos to the bank.

While I slept, the pesos were in my wallet in the back pocket of my pants that were hanging on a door. Or, so I thought. Somehow, Barco was able to pull the pants down, find my wallet, and take out the wad of bills.

Something caused me to wake up. I could hear him playing in the courtyard. By the sounds of his movements, I thought he had caught another unfortunate lizard and was tossing it in the air.

When I went outside, I discovered no lizard.  He was doing his best Scrooge McDuck impression: tossing peso bills in the air while he shredded others.

Fortunately, he had only brought mayhem upon four bills -- a five hundred and three two hundreds.

When I head over to the bank, and I am on my way right now, I will learn how damaged a Mexican bill can be before the bank will accept it.  I know the rule in The States. If a least fifty percent of the bill is intact, the bank will exchange it.

But this is not The States. And there is a long political history dealing with damaged bank notes.

I may have a bit of information I can share with you. At least, I will know what the bank in Melaque will do. Today. With these bills.

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