Posts Tagged ‘prices’

Yet more ridiculous prices

Posted: August 21, 2012 in Life, Stupidity, Travel
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Diesel fuel costs $36 pesos per liter these days (US$1.69, or $6.42/gallon). The road toll prices were recently also hiked to $55 pesos (US$2.58). So now it costs about US$60 in fuel to drive round-trip from Punta Del Este to Montevideo, with an additional US$10.32 in tolls.

More price hilarity

Posted: August 16, 2012 in Food, Stupidity
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The insanity continues:

Tube of Pringles chips: UY$72 (USD$3.39)

Bag of locally-made potato chips, 500g: UY$126 (USD$5.93)!!!

8 hot dogs, locally-made: UY$95 (USD$4.47)!!!

And, here’s the one that hits it out of the park in so many ways I cannot list them all:

The 200 empty shell casings for my .303 rifle, which I left with the gun shop back in January 2012, I have decided not to recharge, because in August 2012 (8 months later) I finally got an estimate for USD$6 per shot! For reloads! For reference, I can buy them brand-new elsewhere for less than $1, sometimes as cheap as 50 cents each.

How the heck are Uruguayans supposed to afford food?

We just returned to Uruguay after 2 months in Chile. It’s already noticeably more fucked here. 20% increase in food prices SINCE WE LEFT. On LOCALLY MADE stuff! I attribute it to the inflationary ratcheting mechanism whereby the peso loses a little value vs the dollar, either by UY inflation or USD deflation, the UY merchants hike the price in a reactionary way to compensate, and then never reduce the price. They then become accustomed to it, until the next peso devaluation. Repeat process.

This year UY increased construction worker minimum wage by 22%, along with an additional 22% increase in BPS taxes for said labor. Which goes hand in hand with last year’s labor and BPS hike. Which put a damper on construction, including ours; were were ready to push the button on the construction of a second house, until we saw that we would be paying some USD$70,000 worth of taxes to construct it, so it can no longer be done within the budget we had drawn up.

OH– and this is all nicely timed with the removal of bank secrecy for Argentines looking to bank or invest in property in UY. Builders are now marching and rioting and going on strike because they are being laid off from construction projects. Some construction projects are stopping completely due to lack of available flight capital from Argentina and shrinking input from the EU.

“How dare you run out of OUR money!?” is their attitude.

“Hey, in order to protest our being laid off because there are too many of us and we don’t work enough, let’s stop working completely! That’ll show everyone!”

Add to that the discussion, passage, and finalization of new taxes on foreign-earned income for all other expats. Which was then repealed to give them a 5-year amnesty, just in time to maybe get their residency or passports, if they ever get it (what a joke we all know that to be now). But hey, we’re thinking of your best interests, foreign investors! All that talk about raping your wallets, that was just political rhetoric. We’re really friendly. Really.

And our banking? That’s so stable that our employees are always going on strike, shutting down entire branches, and so we have reduced opening and working to 5 hours per day to give you the best customer experience possible. Oh, and now we’ve made it so that unless you are withdrawing more than 30,000 pesos (USD$1500) in a single transaction, our tellers will refuse to even deal with you. You’ll have to go to the ATM that tells you that you must change your pin before you can withdraw your money and then doesn’t let you change your pin. And so now we only need one guy in there, and 2 SWAT team thugs to protect him from angry customers. That and the removal of banking secrecy for Argentines, your biggest customer base. But it’s stable, really! That makes it really stable!

Just like the “residency is easy and granted in 6 months” stuff. And the passports for 5-year single and 3-year married residents. It’s guaranteed in the law. Really. And we clearly respect the law. Really! You can trust us 100%

Hey, where did everyone go?

Way to go, Uruguay!

Seriously, I am willing to bet that you start to see significant unemployment exploding here, and accompanying demonstrations, and families and whole communities unable to feed themselves. How Uruguayans can afford to exist boggles my mind. Their cost of living has literally doubled in the last few years and it wasn’t cheap to begin with.

Finding more value in Chile

Posted: June 21, 2012 in Life, Travel
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Today we went to meet the seller of a voltage transformer I found on MercadoLibre. We had agreed to meet at the “Cambio Anden” at the Principe Gales subway station. So I get there and look around in the station for this casa de cambio, but there is none. So we go up and outside, and no cambio. Apparently the crossbridge in the station is called the cambio anden, and here I was thinking it was the name of a currency exchange located in or near the terminal. Stupid gringo. After a few phone calls we figured it out and met the guy and bought his transformer.

Then, outside the station, in the crappy rain we found a nice farmers market/feria going on.

Giant, perfect white cauliflower the size of soccer balls for PC$300 (US$0.60)! A big difference from the sad, small, mildewed, overpriced ones from Uruguay. We know cauliflower is not tough to grow, since we have it in our garden. It’s hard to kill.

I saw the biggest celery I have ever seen. Awesome deals elsewhere. A large variety of eggs of different sizes, styles, and qualities. We found our huevos del campo, and they were expensive but no more pricy than buying free-range eggs in the US. Also picked up some giant eggs to give them a try.

I really need a better camera.

Moving in

Posted: June 16, 2012 in Life, Travel
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We moved into our apartment yesterday. It’s a little tiny one-bedroom place with a tiny kitchen, a tiny bathroom, and a tiny living room. A single-serving apartment. But it is furnished, has fast internet and a decent view, and it’s located just a couple of blocks from all things convenient. We’re here for a month, maybe we’ll do a second month if we don’t find something better.

Last night (or, rather, yesterday afternoon) we went out to a British expat drink-a-thon/football-a-thon to watch England beat Sweden, and I think I finally grasp most of the fine points of what they call “real” football. Good bunch of folks. New friends met, etc. Except for the creepy drunk guy who kept trying to score with WifeBob.

We had some good fish-and-chips, a variety of excellent beers (including Banana Bread Beer, which I had never had before and I must say is excellent). After the drunken revelry we headed home and stopped at a kebab place which had no hummus on the menu but when asked, was happy to provide us with a plate of hummus and bread as an appetizer while we waited for our pita sandwiches. Service!

The subway is easy to deal with even when it’s so packed with people you have to wait for the next train. I am curious to know what it is like to drive and park in downtown Santiago, and I look at car listings online and fantasize about what I can afford. WifeBob says, “Yay, we’re rich again,” about the fact that we can buy groceries at half to 1/3 price and eat at restaurants at rates that make sense. Executive menu lunch with appetizer, entree, dessert, and drink included for US$7. And it was good! Portions generous enough not to leave you hungry, it was served with care and detail on the plates, and the people were happy and friendly because they wanted to be at work.

The Brits were explaining to us that the culture here is competitive: the people know that if they don’t do something or start slacking, someone else will be there to take their place. This pleases me. A far cry from Uruguay’s “I’m the only show in town” attitude.

However, there are still no bagels to be found. Not that I would really want to eat them every day, it’s just that I would find comfort in a society where bagels are ready to deploy at any moment. Is that weird? And the Brits say it is nearly impossible to find bacon. Maybe it’s just the bacon they define as bacon and not the thin-sliced American bacon; I don’t know, I have not been bacon-shopping yet.

At the grocery store, while in search for some “quick” snack/lunch type stuff, I decided to throw a box of frozen empanadas into the cart.

6 frozen empanadas cost UY$134. That is 22 pesos each, about US$1.10

Not bad, considering. However the price of a fresh empanada in a “quick” restaurant, grocery store fiambreria, gas station, etc is about 25 pesos.

So, the ones in the box are cheaper. Or are they?

Let us calculate the cost of electricity to preheat the oven for 10 minutes and bake the empanadas for 20. Total 30 minutes used in a 2000-watt oven equals 1000 watts, or 1 kilowatt. Depending on the time of day and amount of total power you have used (it is a progressive scale), 1kw sells between 3 and 5 pesos. Which adds roughly 1 more peso to each empanada, bringing them to 23 pesos.

Considering you also have to keep them frozen and transport them to your house, we can make an educated guess that it probably adds 2 more pesos to the cost of each one, bringing them to equal the price of fresh empanadas. If you keep them frozen for a long time period, they will actually cost you more than getting them fresh at a restaurant.

To add insult to injury, the frozen empanadas rarely turn out right and “optimal cooking” usually makes them burnt at the edges and so soggy in the middle that they fall apart when you remove them from the oven (if they don’t stick to the tray and rip their guts out on retrieval). I could see spending less money on these things for the convenience of having them at home; however, now that I am calculating it in an official capacity, I can clearly see that there is absolutely no point to buying frozen empanadas here. You are paying an equal amount or more for an inferior product.

2 cheap frozen plain cheese pizzas cost UY$214.85, or $10.56. That’s $5.28 each. For the cheap kind. You can get Papa John’s to deliver more, better, fresher pizza to you for less than that. Or Pizza Hut. Regular price, 4 bucks, 4 bucks, 4 bucks. Oh, wait, we don’t have Papa John’s here, or Pizza Hut. Thank the Pizza Police. We only have pizza por metro in various places that cost more than this, for bland pizza that is cheap on sauce and cheese and toppings. One would think that pizza, being made of cheap ingredients, and with a pizzeria in every restaurant and at every corner mom-and-pop store in the country, it might be cheap. But alas, it is not. We need to keep that flavorless pizza culture protected!

More price weirdness

Posted: May 22, 2012 in Life, Stupidity
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A 440 gram bag of Lay’s potato chips made in Argentina costs less than a 300 gram bag of local Tienda Inglesa brand potato chips. So you can make the chips in Argentina with hyperinflation, trade union craziness, and all the other government extortion, ship it across the river with insane export and import taxes, through the maze of bureaucracies of both countries, then pay the middleman, and you still end up with a cheaper product than the local stuff. Simply amazing.