If you know me (Jeff) at all you will know that I am borderline obsessed with how much things cost. No matter what the product or service is – I need to know how much it cost. I then begin to think of whether or not it was a “good” deal, “ok” deal or a “bad” deal. It’s my own messed up version of the classic QPR (Quality Price Ratio) that wine drinkers are always talking about. I am physically not able to stop wondering and analyzing almost all purchases that I make, that Lindsay makes or that basically anyone I know makes. There is no end game, there is no outcome. I know that it is stupid, but I can’t help it.
This obsession led me to learn the term “¿cuánto cuesta?” in Spanish. It translates to “how much?” Ah…perfect, I can operate in these foreign countries and still feed my need for pricing information. Funny thing is this question works perfectly if the price of the product or service is a nice round whole number, such as $7.00. I know my numbers pretty good. However, if the cost of something is lets say..$7.33…I am completely effed. The difference between those two is “siete” or “siete trienta y tres”. Not too bad when it’s written, but when it’s spoken fluently I am rendered useless. I can only imagine what I look like as I greet them in Spanish, ask how they are doing in Spanish, inquire about the cost in Spanish and them BOOM – I have this super dumb look on my face when they tell me the price. I am working on this part of my Spanish game and soon enough I will master it.
Back to this whole cost thing. So because of my obsession with how much things cost and whether or not its a deal I wanted to share the prices of some common products here on the island of Santa Cruz in the Galapagos. In general the island prices are 1.5x-3x the price of what the products would cost in mainland Ecuador.
Beer – $3 for a ~24oz bottle of the local brew, Pilesner. No 24 packs (or even 6 packs) down here. You pretty much buy it by the bottle. They have 12oz bottles too. But they are sitting right next to the 24oz’rs … which are cheaper per oz… so…
Wine – The assortment of wine at the large grocery store in town is pretty impressive. Maybe 35-50 different bottles. Prices ranging from $10-$50 dominated by South American wines (Chile & Argentina primarily). They have a handful of French wines as well. No California wines though. In general I would say there isn’t a big difference vs what you could get at home.
Spirits – This is where it can get interesting. For instance take rum. The no name brand is $11 for a 750ml. Bacardi 750ml is $30. You want Jose Cuervo Gold 750ml – cough up $45. How about some Absolut vodka, again 750ml, $65. We’ve been drinking the no name brands.
Cigarettes – My friend says they are about $6 per pack. Funny thing here is you can buy them in little 10 cigarette packs (a half pack) or even individual cigarettes if you want. The packs have all those nasty pictures of people in hospitals and gross stuff on them.
Sports betting – No change here, just need an internet connection. This can be very pricey though. BULLS!
Coffee – cup of traditional American-style coffee is about $1.50. This stuff is still great in the morning and for hangovers, even down here.
Sunscreen – Oh my goodness. BRING YOUR OWN. Buy sunscreen before you come down here. A bottle of sunscreen will cost between $12-$40. I am not kidding. And the sun can be very, very brutal.
Bread – roughly $.25 for a roll or between $1-$1.50 for a fresh baked loaf of french bread
Eggs – $1.50-$2.50 for a dozen eggs. They are brown, fresh and absolutely delicious. A very pleasant surprise so far here. The eggs are freaking good. I am guessing because the hens are probably not shot up with steroids and forced to pop out hundreds upon hundreds of eggs. These are just good ole fashioned fresh eggs. Yum.
Ice – 4lb bag of ice is $1.50. I am assuming that this is filtered, drinkable water since neither Lindsay or I have spent a considerable amount of time of the toilet. Yet.
Water – The tap water on the island is brackish and you are strongly advised not to drink it, cook with it or brush your teeth with it. The locals don’t even do that. Getting fresh filtered drinking water is really easy, but the prices vary dramatically. We can get a 5 gallon jug (think Culligan) delivered to our door for about $2-$3. You can buy a 5L (a little over a gallon) from the grocery store for $1.65 and .5L bottles from little bodegas for $1. So it’s relatively inexpensive no matter which route you take. What sneaks up on you is when you eat out there is no tap water aka free water to drink. The prices at the restaurants for a .5L of bottle water can be anywhere from $1.60 to $3.25.
Soda – We do not drink a lot of soda, barely any at all and certainly not without rum. The diet version down here is called Coke Light and is 40% more expensive than regular. In fact it’s so much more that you cannot order a Cuba Libre (rum and Coke) with Coke light for the same price in a bar.
Fruits & Veggies – I am not going to list the prices of each fruit and veggie. I will say this though – there is a really nice assortment. Fruits and veggies that can be grown on the islands (peppers, limes, tomatoes) are super cheap. Fruits such as pineapple and watermelon (heavy and not grown here..or not easily grown here) are quite expensive ($6 – $8 per). One of my absolute favorite deals so far in this regard is the garlic (ajo in Spanish). They peel the garlic for you. A completely full ziploc sandwich bag full of already peeled garlic will cost less than $1. Amazing! Needless to say are breath be straight stankin!
The other funny part about produce is there are tons of little markets and bodegas selling them. And for the most part the have all the same stuff. However, their prices are ridiculously varied. It’s very strange. We bought a fair amount of fruits and veggies at one place and it cost $25. A couple of days later, on the same block (like…I don’t know, maybe 400ft from the first place) we bought a very similar assortment of produce. The cost? $10. My guess is the first place gave us the lost tourist discount 😉
Services & Restaurants
Taxi – A taxi ride anywhere in town (and there isn’t a lot of reason to go out of town) is $1 per ride, no matter the passengers. Kudos to this town because they have a really good infrastructure for taxis, lots of people both visitors and locals use them, it’s super easy to find one (all the cabs are pickup trucks so that you can put your bikes or surfboards in the bed) and are all painted white.
Water taxis – To get to other parts of the islands such as Tortuga Bay (great surfing, has to be a top 5 beach in the world – seriously) is $3 per person one-way
Dining out – Just like at home this the prices are all over the board. Generally speaking you can get a decent chicken dinner starting at $6, fish dinners starting at $8 and lobster dinners starting at $10. It pretty much goes up from there and depends on where you are eating. The touristy parts and hotels are significantly more expensive than if you were wonder into town and dine with the locals. Prices on the menu typically do not include tax (12%) and an automatic service/tip (10%) which sneaks up on you the first couple of times but then you get used to it.
Drinking out – These places are freaking hilarious. The ole bait and switch is out in full force. Just about every place on the main strip has signs screaming “Happy Hour”. One sign reads “Happy Hour ALL Day” and then under it in much smaller type says “from 4pm-11pm”. Ha. Different times have different deals. For instance, from 4-6pm its 2 for 1, from 6-8pm its 3 for 2. Some have no time listed on their signs and when you sit down they tell you it hasn’t started or isn’t on the day you are there. It’s pretty funny actually. And they all have a set list of drinks (of course they don’t advertise that) and you cannot mix and match – so you would have to get two of the same drinks.
But I digress. The price of drinks is really similar to what you would pay at home. For a mixed drink on the low end (a good happy hour) you are looking at about $4 for a rum-based drink and $5 for a gin based drink. Not happy hour the drinks will range from $6-$10, and that is pretty much everywhere except some of the nicer hotels in town where you will pay a little bit more, but are also be able to select specific brands of liquors and have a larger selection of specialty drinks.
That pretty much wraps up the costs so far in the Galapagos. If you’re wondering what some of the other expensive are shoot us a note.