January 20, 2014

by Ken Sin in Guadalajara, Mexico

OK, how do I do this without seeming preachy…

Let’s start with Coca Cola.

Coca Cola

Coke in Mexico is about 10-15 pesos for 600 mL. More often 10 pesos.  Now I’m sure most readers wouldn’t know that the exchange rate is roughly 13 pesos to 1 dollar.


That means a large glass bottle of Coke here costs less than one US dollar. What a steal!

On a long journey like this, it’s important to keep track of my spendings, so I’ve been keeping a log of everything…

log of everything

I’ve been able to be thrifty and survive off super cheap Walmart food for the most part.

Eventually we arrived at Mazaltan.


For the most part, it’s a really pretty resort town, so I indulged a bit. You can see those hotels, those Cokes, and those burgers in my log.

At the same time, there are communities in Mazatlan like this one where these brave, inspiring girls are working to improve.


They don’t really live in houses. They live by a garbage dump. There’s no running water. And children are left at home alone when their parents go off to find work for the day. These girls are working to build and setup a daycare in their community.

roots and wings

Check them out if you’re feeling supportive. It’s pretty darn awesome what they’re doing, and I can’t fully explain all they do here and now. I’m here to talk about money.

Apparently, the kids in that community gather Christmas lights from the garbage and burn it for the copper. They then turn the copper in for recycling money.

A kid showed us that a large metal block and a burnt up roll of Christmas lights earns him roughly 14 pesos for the day. That’s a tiny bit more than a dollar. That’s a Coke right there.

What am I trying to say here? Am I saying something about appreciation? About poverty? About… I don’t know.

Money definitely isn’t some random thing (“Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.” - Jay-Z).  When I think of how much money some of my friends make (and sometimes it’s still considered little in NYC), how much we can easily spend on a night out, how we view the struggle of money and compare that to how hard it must be to come out of that type of community, how blahblah blah I don’t know… my sentences make less and less sense.

Many people know this already: that we easily spend more in a small purchase than some people make in a week. This is nothing new or radical. It’s just a different perspective once you actually see it and you’re there. All I’m trying to do here, I guess, is make you think about these things with me. Or, you know, just go on with your life and make that bank. I’m down with both. But if you ever wonder where your lights and decorations go after Christmas, well now you know.


We ended up giving these kids our Christmas decorations. Quite happy about it too, since we didn’t know where to put them after Christmas, and they were just taking up room in the ambulance. Hope this kid is able to buy a Coke with them.

In case you couldn’t tell, I really like Coke.