Should I Pay with Pesos or Dollars in Puerto Vallarta? Where Should I Exchange Currency?

You should pay in pesos, across the board in almost every situation. The only convincing point I have ever heard in favor of dollars is for one very specific situation: tipping strippers. But that was when the exchange rate was less favorable against the dollar. In that case, you may have wanted to bring a small stack of $1 bills (or a large stack—I have no idea how much/whether you love the strippers!). But now that 20 pesos equals almost exactly $1 USD, you can simply make sure you have a stack of 20 peso notes if you are visiting a strip club.

Paying in cash is preferable for all small transactions. The exchange rates are very high at the airport, and the fees at the airport ATMs are also quite high. I don’t like to waste money, so I prefer to get pesos at an ATM in town. For those who are staying in Zona Romantica (as all gay tourists should—see my advice on where to stay in Puerto Vallarta), the two most convenient ATMs that dispense pesos (be aware that some ATMs nearby only dispense dollars, so be sure to check the signage and messages carefully) are located at the Banorte at Olas Altas 246, one block south of the park (Parque Lazaro Cardenas), or the Intercam Banco at Ignacio L. Vallarta 130, which is the first block of Zona Romantica after you take the bridge over Rio Cuale from Centro Historico Puerto Vallarta. The Banorte ATM in particular can be quite busy, with a line forming on the sidewalk.

To use the ATM, you can first choose to use English or Spanish for your transaction. It will guide you through several steps, and at some point it will offer you the choice to accept an exchange rate set by the bank. DECLINE this exchange rate—many people accept thinking they must accept in order to continue, but that is not true. If you decline, you will get the daily best exchange rate rather than the somewhat inflated exchange rate they offer. My choice is to take out a large amount of money and then keep the bulk of it in the safe in my hotel, while carrying only enough for the day I have planned. I do this for convenience (fewer trips to the ATM) and also because the ATMs OFTEN RUN OUT OF MONEY, especially on very busy holidays or during events or celebrations. I have even found both of the usual ATMs out of money, in which case I walk over the bridge into Centro and visit the large Banco Azteca located one block north of the bridge.

At restaurants that cater to tourists or that are somewhat more expensive, you can usually use your credit card. A smart thing to do is to make sure your credit card does not charge a fee for international usage. And don’t forget to notify your credit card issuer that you will be traveling! There are few things less fun than being stuck in a foreign country with no way to pay for things!

So why should you pay in pesos? Out of respect for the local business people you are dealing with, and for your own benefit. It is an inconvenience (and an expense) for locals to convert dollars to pesos—they pay an exchange rate just like you do. Many restaurants will accept payment in dollars, but they set their own exchange rate, and across the board it will always be to their benefit, meaning they charge you extra for the inconvenience and expense they will incur when they in turn have to convert those dollars to pesos. It benefits everyone if you simply use pesos. And, a sidenote: there is a persistent myth that locals prefer to receive tips in the form of dollars. This is simply not true. Tip your waiters (and masseurs and taxi drivers and anyone else you may be tipping) with pesos.

My method for converting prices from pesos to dollars, so that I can better judge the expense of an item is to drop the last digit (rounding up or down to the zero or the next increment of 10), and then divide that result in half. This may require tweaking if you want an EXACT calculation, but for a quick-and-dirty estimate, it is useful. $100 pesos becomes 10 when the last digit is dropped, and divide 10 in half to get 5. So, 100 pesos is 5 USD. 750 pesosà75à$37.50. If it helps. You can also think of one peso as one US nickel. Ten pesos is 50 cents.

I try to judge my spending and my withdrawals to avoid having too many pesos left at the end of my trip. If I have more than I need to pay for the taxi to the airport, I prefer to exchange the pesos back to dollars in Zona Romantica, because the process at the airport is time consuming, tedious, and expensive—they charge something like a 13% fee. The place I have used is CIBanco at Olas Altas 513, just across from The Palm Cabaret and Bar, right in the heart of the gay area. They have always provided me with quick and convenient service.

Where Should I Stay in Gay Puerto Vallarta? Should I Do an All-Inclusive Resort?

NO. Most definitely, you should avoid doing all-inclusive when visiting Puerto Vallarta! That may be appropriate elsewhere, but it is a mistake most visitors to PV make only on their first visit. The city is charming and walkable, with many affordable and delicious restaurants and bars, and there are ZERO good options for all-inclusive resorts that cater to gay men.

The area where you will want to stay is known as Zona Romantica (sometimes also called the Pink Zone or La Zona Rosa, although that has been falling out of favor in recent years). It is the area on the far south end of the Bay of Banderas, south of the Rio . . . → Read More: Where Should I Stay in Gay Puerto Vallarta? Should I Do an All-Inclusive Resort?

How I replaced the aux jack in my Gen 2 Prius and added Bluetooth sound in two minutes using only one tool

Prius aux jack replacement

I own a 2008 Prius, generation 2 model, and it’s a great car except that it has long suffered from a common issue, which is that the car stopped sensing when something was plugged into the auxiliary jack. Pushing the aux button on the radio did nothing, and the option to switch to auxiliary sound did not even appear on the audio screen, because it’s programmed to appear only when a sound source is plugged in. There’s a technical reason why this part wears out, and it is apparently something you can repair if you have the time and initiative and the ability to solder small parts, but that was . . . → Read More: How I replaced the aux jack in my Gen 2 Prius and added Bluetooth sound in two minutes using only one tool

My Favorite of the Cheap Modern Sewing Machines

Brother Sewing Machine

You can spend truly large sums of money buying fancy machines like Bernina, but most people don’t need all the functions of those machines (which really are incredible, but that’s another post). Most people who want to do some quilting or sewing for fun or as a hobby, or even as a small home-based business, are fine with a cheaper machine that still has some of the nicer functions. My favorite of the cheap machines is a discontinued model from Brother. I purchased it on Amazon as a “renewed” product, which means it was returned, but it was obvious that this had never been used. The plastic and tape was still . . . → Read More: My Favorite of the Cheap Modern Sewing Machines

Equifax does not Owe You $125—Understanding the Data Breach Settlement

Many reputable news organizations have been freely informing people that Equifax has agreed to pay $125 to everyone affected by the scandalous data breach that they attempted to ignore/cover up back in July 2017 (when they delayed alerting the public for almost two months after discovering the breach). The fact is that the settlement does not include anything close to $125 for every affected person.

What Equifax has actually agreed to do is to pay “up to” $125 to each person who files a valid claim…but no more than $31 million in total. $31 million dollars divided by 147 million people (the number of people whose data was exposed) leaves…21 cents . . . → Read More: Equifax does not Owe You $125—Understanding the Data Breach Settlement

A (Seemingly Quite) Large Mystery Left Unexplained in Game of Thrones; or, What is up with Grey Worm’s Crotch?

The finale of Game of Thrones left many unanswered questions, but the one that has been occupying my thoughts is the obvious and distracting bulge in Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson’s pants. Quite impressive for a eunuch.

Grey Worm’s unmissable bulge

Although it was never revealed if the unsullied were fully “emasculated” (by removal of both penis and testes), that is exactly what happened to Lord Varys, as revealed during a scene when he describes his castration to Tyrion: “With a hooked blade, he sliced me, root and stem…”. There is no reason to believe the slavers who created the Unsullied would have been more gentle.

Unsullied crotch

Perhaps actor Jacob Anderson just has . . . → Read More: A (Seemingly Quite) Large Mystery Left Unexplained in Game of Thrones; or, What is up with Grey Worm’s Crotch?

Craigslist shuts down personals section, not just in US, but WORLDWIDE

While planning a trip to another country, I was happy to see that Craigslist still had personals ads in other countries. They had shut down the personals section in the United States around six weeks ago, in response to legislation here. Five days ago, I took a look and contacted a few guys in anticipation of meeting them when I arrived in town, but when I looked this morning, the entire section had disappeared.

After doing some research, I was unable to find personals sections in any country. Every country I checked in Europe and in Central American and South America had the same disappointing result…no more personals ads. I tried to . . . → Read More: Craigslist shuts down personals section, not just in US, but WORLDWIDE

How I Combat Winter Depression, Even in Sunny Texas

I originally moved to Austin, Texas, in 2000 in an attempt to escape from SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. I had been living for almost 9 years in Olympia, Washington, and the seasonal depression grew worse for me every year. Even in sunny Texas, though, the combination of the overcast weather and staying indoors during the colder months can still lead to the winter blues. I have finally found something that works very well for me…I would say perfectly. And it is much easier and cheaper than the crazy bright, expensive, 4 foot long full-spectrum fluorescent lamp that I used in the 90s.

Philips GoLITE BLU

I use the Philips GoLITE . . . → Read More: How I Combat Winter Depression, Even in Sunny Texas

Chase Freedom Card Disappoints with Its Most Recent 5% Bonus Categories–No Costco!

I carry and use the Chase Freedom card for occasional purchases, because I am an avid bonus points collector. In the past year, I have traveled from Chicago to: Mexico (four times); Oklahoma City (twice); Dallas; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (twice); and New Orleans (twice) ALL FOR FREE due to bonus points that I got from purchases or from signup bonuses (those signup bonuses were earned on three different CHASE cards). I still have over a thousand dollars in my point bank toward future travel. Each quarter, the Chase Freedom card offers a 5X bonus offer for purchases from certain types of stores. Last quarter was restaurants and movie theaters. The . . . → Read More: Chase Freedom Card Disappoints with Its Most Recent 5% Bonus Categories–No Costco!

I Got a Refund from Airbnb for a Cancellation in Austin Due to Hurricane Harvey

About a month ago I made reservations on Airbnb to stay in a cute little apartment in Austin, Texas, over the weekend of Gay Pride, which was scheduled for August 26th and 27th. I was planning to drive down from Dallas on Friday the 25th after work and drive home on Sunday. As that Friday approached the ominous forecast about Hurricane Harvey looked like it might put a damper on things.

When I woke up on Friday morning, it was to news stories about the imminent threat of the hurricane as it approached the coast. People were evacuating Houston, and Austin was under alert for heavy rains, flooding, and loss of electricity, . . . → Read More: I Got a Refund from Airbnb for a Cancellation in Austin Due to Hurricane Harvey

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