Big, fat raise

new-imageCAN YOU HEAR the Gringos cheering?

When I moved south in the year 2000 the peso-buck exchange rate was about 10-1.

For every buck you’d get 10 pesos. This made it easy to calculate how much you were spending in “real money.”

It stayed that way for years, spiking up to 12 on occasion and even dipping a bit below 10 now and then. Some years later, it would rise to about 15 or so, but that usually didn’t last long, a week or so, and it would fall back to the 12 range.

A couple of years ago, it started going up and up, and nowadays, depending on the bank, you can get 20 pesos for a buck.

Here’s what that means for those of us whose income comes from above the Rio Bravo: a 100 percent pay raise. Well, for those who’ve been here since 2000, that is.

While this is not good for Mexico, it is very good for those who live on dollars that sail south electronically.

And it’s very good for Gringo tourists.* If you’ve been dreaming of a Mexican vacation, phone your travel agent.

Of course, prices have increased since 2000, but they sure have not risen 100 percent, so we’re far ahead of the game.

Some people attribute this situation to Trump’s rise, but it started before that. Being stupid in these matters, I don’t know why we got this big, fat pay raise, but I like it.

And it’s easy to calculate again how much I’m spending in “real money.” Just halve the 10-1 calculation and voilá!

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* But it’s bad for Mexican tourists in the United States, just one more reason for me to stay put. Both my bank accounts are Mexican. Pesos, not bucks. Pesos are “real money” now.

The long table

kitchenBW

SEE THAT CHAIR down there, just opposite? That’s my chair, and it’s where I sit when I eat a morning bagel or an afternoon pozole. The King’s Chair, and I’m the King.

The Queen sits to my right. The Princess and her Prince by marriage live in Georgia and have yet to visit the castle.

Perhaps one day.

Nobody sits at this table for the evening meal, which at the Hacienda is always a green salad with diced chicken on top. I make that, and we go upstairs and watch something on Mexican Netflix, a great service.

We have side-by-side recliners separated by a tiny table.

But this is a view I rarely see, which is why I photographed it. What I always see is what’s behind the photographer’s back. That would be me at this moment.

There’s a big window to the left, and another behind, both of which provide great outdoor views.

But it’s uplifting to view life from a different perspective now and then. I think so, and I want to stay uplifted.

Gone fishing — for good

fishing

LOTS OF PEOPLE dream of early retirement, and some even plan for it — giving the middle digit to The Man.

The traditional age is 55 because lots of corporations will start a pension at that point just to get rid of you. Retiring before 55 is possible, sure, but only if you’re fairly rich and have planned well.

Due to the aging of the Baby Boomer Generation, magazines and newspapers frequently run articles about retirement in general and even retiring early. These articles often say how difficult it is, that you gotta have 10 million bucks under the mattress. Baloney.

Even though I did little dreaming of early retirement and even less planning (think zip), the stars aligned, and I bailed at 55.

It was the best move of my life. The year was 1999.

And I’ve earned nary a penny or a peso since. At least, not from any effort on my part. Capitalism is a godsend. You stick five bucks in an account, and later you have seven bucks — or sometimes four, depending on which way the wind blows.

Lots of those magazine and newspaper yarns tell you the best towns in America to retire. And they can be great places, but not if you are living on my income, which is about $24,000 a year. That’s just $8,000 over the 2015 official poverty level in America for a two-person household.

Living in the United States these days on $24,000 wouldn’t be much fun.

Doing it in Mexico, however, is easy as pie.

So here is my recommendation if you want to leave the workforce at 55: Have no debt and enough money to make it to 62, praying that Social Security will not increase that age before you get there.

Probably won’t.

When you hit 62, start Social Security payments, which will likely be more than enough to live sweet in Mexico. An additional corporate pension, even a puny one like mine, is even better.

So come on down. The fishing is good.

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P.S.: Contrary to what’s been hammered into you, living in Mexico is safer than today’s United States of America. Plus, Mexico doesn’t do Big Government, disruptive diversity-worship, #brownlivesmatter, high taxes, and you’re not called racist every day by stupendously silly people.

We’re mellow. Bring a hook, line and bait.