Doing the math

Fog lays in heavy on The Sea of Cortes.

Fog lays in heavy on The Sea of Cortes.

The cloud cover over the local mountains is dumping some pretty heavy rain.

The cloud cover over the local mountains is dumping some pretty heavy rain.

The clouds remain this morning, with even a little moisture falling from them.

The clouds remain this morning, with even a little moisture falling from them.


A rough of a possible label for our Baja Jerky.

A rough of a possible label for our Baja Jerky.

A rough of the label for Cara's Cara Mary Mix.

A rough of the label for Cara’s Cara Mary Mix.


Sometimes, Mother Nature just doesn’t want to cooperate.

Tuesday, she was downright stubborn, refusing to allow the sun to poke out from behind a thick layer of clouds that hung low and heavy over the Sea of Cortes.

It was gray.

Really gray.

I guess it was raining up in Los Angeles – a good thing considering how dry it has been in southern California – and the weather there has some kind of effect on the weather here. At least that’s what we’re told. I keep forgetting that even though we live in Mexico, technically, we are Californians as well. Life on The Baja is certainly different than up in Los Angeles, but, we are still an appendage of The Golden State.

Whatever the cause or influence, we’ve had some funky stuff going on weather-wise.

There was some heavy fog the other day giving us zero visibility. We couldn’t see the neighbors’ houses let alone the water. The wind and chill broke a bit because of the heavy humidity. Then a heavy cloud bank drifted overhead. We even had a little spritz of rain, which means all of the dust that had been blowing around kind of stuck to the van, turning it from white to brown.

Cara, invigorated by the buzz of her green tea yesterday morning at the market as we did our Internet stuff for our book pages (“plygs” and “It Rocked!”), scanned Facebook, and checked in with family, decided it was a good day to catch up on some household chores.

That meant throwing a few loads of laundry into the washing machine, then sweeping and mopping the tile floors.

Tile floors are really pretty, but they are also a pain.

Living in the desert/beach, they get dusty pretty quickly. There’s just no way to keep the grit out as it seeps through any little crack and crevice in the windows and doors. So, she went at it, zipping around the house like Tony Stewart at turn four of Daytona.

She likes to attack housework and doesn’t like any interference, which means at one point, she tossed me out to the patio so she could sweep-mop-tidy-arrange-re-arrange and, in general, make the place cleaner and more orderly.

“Honey, I love you, but time for you to get out,” she said, even though I was sitting harmlessly on the couch, buried in my laptop.

Remember the Tasmanian Devil from the old Saturday morning cartoons?

Yeah…it’s something like that. The best thing is to stay out of the flurry.

Now, usually, Cara’s cleaning ritual includes a liberal dose of Cher, cranked up to full blast on the iPod as she sweeps-mops-tidies-arranges-re-arranges and, in general, makes the place cleaner and more orderly, but yesterday, she whizzed through it all and before I knew it and plopped onto a patio chair.

“Done…much better!,” she said after stowing the broom, Dirt Devil, and Swiffer.

Meanwhile, I had been thinking about a couple of little projects we have talked about ever since we started planning our return to Mexico.

One of them is a thing we call Baja Jerky. It’s kind of like regular jerky, but with a south-of-the-border flavor using the chilies and other spices that make Mexican cuisine the treasure that it is. I also took up this little hobby of making jewelry – bracelets, necklaces, earrings – while we were in Utah. Cara also makes, bar none, the best Bloody Marys in the world. She worked for years developing a mix that is absolutely outstanding. If you ever had one, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, well, you are really missing out. We had always talked about someday figuring out a way to bottle it and sell it.

The last two weekends we went to a Saturday morning swap meet they have in the complex.

There was a guy making and selling churros, some people making tamales, a guy who makes specialty sausages, another who sells homemade breads. There are also vendors selling jewelry, art, clothing, and some who are trying to resell the stuff taking up space in their garages.

It seems the perfect place to test market some of our stuff.

So I played around with some labeling ideas.

But, then, we started looking at costs, marketing, sales and all that other stuff.

I really don’t have much of a brain for numbers, but I did my best.

The thing is, down here, you have to convert the value of the peso to that of U.S. dollars and as far as materials, well, instead of ounces and pounds, it’s all in kilos and liters. Right now, the exchange rate is 13.50 pesos to the dollar, which is good because it means U.S. dollars can purchase more. The rate fluctuates wildly, however, and each store posts the daily exchange rate for the gringos.

There are actually people who trade in currency, selling dollars for pesos when the peso is up around 13.50 and selling their pesos when it drops. We learned this when we lived in San Jose and saw the peso fluctuate from a high of 15.25 to a low of 9.90. My economic prowess is about on par with my math skills, still, we actually made about $500 U.S. one time when the peso went through a major cycle. It was actually a matter of being at the right place at the right time instead of shrewd planning. I mean, the Canadian dollar also went through a similar bounce at the same time. I remember because some friends of ours from Canada were talking about how it was time for them to hit the shops and buy what they wanted to bring home because the Canadian dollar was worth more than the U.S. dollar and Mexican peso.

So, doing my best Alan Greenspan, I tried working the math for our projects.

“If Johnny had five jiggers of tomato juice, two jiggers of Clamato juice and three olives, how long would it take the train to get from Indianapolis to Chicago with a two-hour stop in Peoria?”

You get the picture.

Meanwhile, Cara just informed me it’s time to head to the market and get our Internet stuff done.

“That way I can get my green tea buzz going and do the dishes,” she said.

I guess that means more patio time for me.


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