The two Mexicos. One has Starbucks.
This won't exactly come as a news flash, but it's really cheap to travel in Mexico.
At a fancy restaurant down the street from my hotel you can get a steak, appetizer and a drink for about $35. It got me thinking. Maybe everything is discounted. Maybe for $100 a pop I could get my whole family iPads for Christmas! They could deal with the Spanish instruction manuals.
I started Googling around. Last week I tweeted how this Pan American Games has an official nightclub. Turns out, they also seem to have an official mall. The Galerías Guadalajara is a relatively new development in a rich part of town. The Games' Scotiabank Aquatics Centre was built just a short drive away. In fact, frequent shuttles run between the two. (On a quick serious note, this mall and aquatics centre have been a source of anger for some locals, who say it is a prime example of how the government invested in wealthy areas and ignored the poor areas. You'll read more on that from me later on.)
I headed up to the Galerías today. The three-story complex was full of athletes and coaching staff. Here's what I found: almost everything in Mexico is cheaper than in Canada. But the more high-end the merchandise, the more comparable the pricing to American/Canadians standards. In fact, for the very expensive brands, items are MORE expensive here. I guess the logic is: if you're from Guadalajara and you're shopping in Coach, you've got money to burn. The class divide here isn't so much a divide as two separate countries living alongside one another.
Watch the steeply rising scale:
In this city, a bottle of water at the corner store is about $1.15, compared to $1.75 at home.
A 15 minute taxi ride is about $4.50 (with tip) versus $15 in Toronto.
An IMAX movie ticket is $5. Back home you're going to drop about $15.
A Grande Latte at Starbucks in Mexico costs $2.90, compared to $4.25ish at home.
Converse sneakers in the Galerías ran about $42. On Queen St. W they're around $60.
A Madison style Coach handbag costs $480 here. In the US (Canada will be more expensive remember) the purse only costs $400.
An iPad 2 in Guadalajara costs $550. In Canada, an iPad starts around $520.
I spoke with an elderly woman today who lives in a home with no roof who lives on about $300 Canadian each month. I think sometimes when we hear figures like that, we assume those people must live in a place where the cost of living is next to nothing. Surely $300 to them is more like $2000 to us. But that elderly woman lived around the corner from some of the American-style shops quoted above. To those who raised concerns about the geography of investment, 76-year-old Aurora would likely agree with you.