Mexico is Cold!

It is cold here. The houses are all constructed to stay cool. At night the temperature gets down to the mid 20s (Fahrenheit). During the day it gets up into the 70s, but the houses are made so they don’t warm up. For example, our friends’ house has several windows all around it, but they are all set up so they don’t get any direct sun. They let in light, but it doesn’t hit the windows directly. This is great for the summer when you want to retain the coolness all day, but it is a real problem in the winter when it is cold.

Since the houses are made out of concrete and most of the floors are tile, everything seems even colder than it really is. Our friends have a small propane heater that they use to keep things warm at night. For us the night time isn’t too big of a problem because we brought some thick blankets from the U.S. that work well. It is in the day time that it feels uncomfortable. We usually run the heater for about 30 minutes around 10 am to help warm things up a little.

When we get our own place, it will be interesting to see if we can come up with a way to get the sunlight into the house without ruining the cooling design for when it is warmer in the summer. Maybe a bunch of mirrors aimed at the windows during the winter would do the trick.

Entertainment for the Neighbor Kids

Every day around 2pm, the neighbor kids get home. They entertain themselves by kicking boxes right outside our window. This seems to keep them busy for several hours at a time. At first I thought they were beating on my car. I was happy to know that it was a box that belonged to someone else.

I went out and met them yesterday. The older ones spoke and understood English. The younger ones spoke English, but didn’t understand me. I would ask them a question, one of the older ones would translate it into Spanish, and they would answer in English. Must be my crazy Kansas accent. More likely it is the crazy accent of their foreign teacher who is trying to teach them English from who knows where.

School runs from 8 am to 2 pm Monday through Friday. They said there are some schools where the kids go in the evenings. I didn’t understand if the schools started later or if they just ran longer. We’ve seen some of these when we’ve been out walking in the evening.

Working from Mexico

Ever since we moved down to Mexico, I've been working on my business using the internet. Part of the work is some consulting and the other part is working on developing website assets (including The biggest thing we had to have for this to work is an internet connection.

My Office DeskWe were able to get a 512k connection for about $32 USD per month. It isn't quite fast enough for what I need, but it was a very good price point. It is plenty fast for our internet phone connection and that was the application most sensitive to low bandwidth. We were expecting the internet to cost about $100 USD per month, so the cable modem seems like a really good deal.

Our internet phone is another very important key to being able to work from here. We use Vonage for our personal calls and Skype for business. With Vonage, we are able to use our existing cordless phone just like we did in the U.S. It still startles me when I hear it ring because I keep thinking "I'm in Mexico, the phone shouldn't work down here."

I also have a Blackberry through TMobile that can send and receive email internationally for a reasonable fixed fee. We use that when we are on the road to let people know where we are. Phone calls would cost $1.50, so email seems like a good way to keep connected without the high fees. We may eventually get a Mexican cell phone that wouldn't cost nearly as much.

Before we came down here I went ahead and invested (splurged) on a really high quality monitor. The 24 inch screen is easy on the eyes it gives me a lot of extra space to work.

I really miss my office chair. Right now I'm using a borrowed fold up chair that collapses on me 2 or 3 times a day. Bringing the office chair down probably wouldn't have been worth it, but I think I'll look for one once we get our own place. I'm also borrowing a fold up desk that fits nicely in the corner of our borrowed room for right now. When we rent our own place, I'll probably look into getting a desk of some type. I may just get a large flat door from Home Depot and use it. That is what Amazon does for their employees. It wouldn't cost much and I wouldn't feel bad about leaving it when we eventually move back to the U.S. plus if we ever need a door, we'll have one available.

Economy in Durango Mexico

When we had our first lesson with the Spanish teacher, I asked a bunch of questions about the economic situation in Durango Mexico. Minimum wage is $42 pesos (about $3.80 USD) per day. It sounds like this is the going rate for unskilled manual labor. Our friends said that many people can’t even get the minimum wage for work. Most people work a 6 day work week here. This seems pretty amazing when you consider that a pound of tomatoes cost about $36 pesos.

Our teacher said that WalMart was considered a very good employer because they will hire young people and work around their school schedule. Working full time at WalMart pays about $500 pesos per week or about $45 U.S. Dollars. So that would give you a yearly salary of around $2,300 per year.

Our friends told us that $50,000 pesos per year (about $4,500 USD) is a pretty average annual salary for skilled labor here. That is what many of the lawyers and accountants make each year. Obviously there are many people who make more. Teaching at a top private school seems to pay somewhere around $1000 USD per month, but I think that is highly variable as well. Tuition is about $350 USD per child. Most of the teachers at the top private schools are brought in from overseas because all of the classes are taught in English.

The teacher also said that the cost of food in Durango was much higher than in some of the other Mexican states because almost all of the fruits and vegetables have to be imported from elsewhere. Durango does raise beef, so the beef prices are supposedly pretty good. We didn’t buy a lot of beef in the U.S., so it is harder for us to compare the price of beef.


I definitely have the nicest doctor in the world. I guess in Mexico they don’t teach the class in medical school on how to be a jerk. I called my doctor today to talk about my lab results, and he said he would check and to call him back in 45 minutes. When I called back, he was busy with a patient in labor. He was so incredibly apologetic that he did not have time to check the labs.

It is very different than the states. I would never have my doctors cell phone number or get to talk to him. I would only talk to the nurse unless it was a major necessity or one of the doctors at Health Intervention Services, because they are so are wonderful too.

I am very grateful for the doctor I have to deliver my baby. Not only is he very smart and relaxed, but he also actually cares about his patients too.

Thanksgiving Day

We went to Soriana and bought a frozen chicken which had been smoked. They had frozen turkey for prices comparable to the States but we decided a chicken would be good enough. They also had roasting pans and the Reynold's turkey bags available to cook the turkey in. They also had the little packets for making brown gravy.

I was able to find a can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for $20 pesos. It was good. We did not have stuffing or dressing to go with it. I could not find the spices for the stuffing, besides I don't like it. I could not find any cornmeal in order to make cornbread dressing. But we had our cranberry sauce with chicken, mashed potatoes, rolls, and a green bean casserole.

The green bean casserole was slightly different because I could not find the friend onions that go on top. I used potato chips instead, Ruffles to be exact. It turned out okay, a bit salty for me.

No pumpkin pie though. I did not see pumpkins whole or canned. Of course it would not have been worth it to me to make it from a whole pumpkin. I did find some frozen strawberries and made a pretty good strawberry pie which we topped with ice cream. It was not the traditional pumpkin or pecan but it worked. Actually we were so full after the meal we did not the pie until the next day.

I made sweet tea out of Earl Grey tea. Peppermint and Earl Grey are the only two types I can find decaffeinated, no plain old tea. Anyway it turned out pretty good.


Lab Work

I had lab work done. It cost $440 pesos at the private hospital. This included urine, complete blood count, and the glucose tolerance test. The glucose is different here, they do not put the orange or cola flavoring in it. It was like drinking honey with extra sugar added, it was fine.

The hospital looked very nice and small. The people were all very kind and the lab technician was very proficient the two times she stuck me for different tests. We got the lab results 45 minutes after they were performed. I have to call the doctor today to discuss them with him.

We took a walk while we were waiting for the lab results.The neighborhood around the hospital was pleasant there were two other hospitals within walking distance. All of the houses had nice yards with either gardens or grass.



Trash Pickup and Street Signs

Today I was once again noticing how many streets lack street signs. It can be very difficult to figure out where you are because there is about a 50/50 chance that any street you come to will have a sign with its name. It seems like this would be something the city would invest in, but maybe it is too expensive.

On the other hand they provide free trash pickup for the entire city 6 days per week. In my U.S. mindset this seems like something that individuals should have to pay for themselves. Use taxes to pay for the street signs and make everyone pay for garbage pickup.

If the city didn't pickup the trash, many Mexicans wouldn't pay for it because it isn't essential. People would still put the trash outside to get it out of the house. The many stray dogs would get into it and drag it all out in the street where the city would have to clean it anyway. Plus they would have to try to go around issuing tickets to people who left out the trash.

The missing street signs don't seem so bad if that is what it takes to provide trash pickup.

First Spanish Lesson

Today was our first Spanish lesson with a very nice lady who is an administrator at the American school here in town. We learned how to take a taxi and look for a house to rent. She is charging us $50 pesos a piece for an hour. I think that is a good price because she actually spent more time with us than she charged us. She also may have some contacts for us to find a house to rent.

Two interesting things happened. The first being that she is the only person we have met in Mexico that was on time to a meeting. The second being that the fluorescent light caught on fire during our lesson. She calmly told us to wait outside while she found someone to take care of it and we continued our lesson.

The place where we met her was the American school in Spanish it is Colegio de America of Durango. It is a private school. Most of the teachers they have at this present time are from the United States and they teach in English. The teachers sign a 2 year contract but at the end of the first year they are offered the ability to quit. They are provided with furnished housing as well as a salary, which she was unaware of the amount. There are over 600 student from elementary through high school. The school looked very nice.

Second Doctor Visit

We went to my second doctors visit, it went well. Our friends came to meet us to help translate but the doctor was not there. He was stuck at the hospital, I think. Our friends had to leave so we had to wing it. I started out speaking in Spanish with the doctor and then I got lost. So Mark started speaking in English and the doctor joined in. It went well.

We got a dvd of the ultrasound this time and he ordered lab work. It only cost $300 pesos this time. I have to go to the lab first thing in the morning so they can get my first void of urine. This is different from the states, they would have given me a specimen container to take in the lab with me. So it will be interesting to see the differences in my lab experience. The doctor is really laid back. I think it is because here no own sues. I told him we were going to the States for Christmas and asked if it was ok. He basically said well I see you whenever I see you.