Saturday, August 31, 2019

Gold in Mexican Pesos

In 2011 Gold in U.S, Dollars hit a high of $1,900. The high gold price in Mexican Pesos was MXN24,000. Here in 2019 gold finally, broke through a ceiling of $1,360 that had been in place for six years. It currently trades at $1,529. 

The gold price in Mexican Pesos has moved to MXN30,499. The MXN peso was 13.50 to the dollar in 2011, and now is 20.06 to the dollar.

Tom Dyson at Bonner & Partners said in a recent email. "but there are 56 countries left on the planet where the gold price is NOT yet at an all-time high. Many of them have pegged currencies to the dollar.

The U.S. is one of those countries. We would need another 23% rise in the price of gold to reach a new high.

What does that mean to me, Mike?

If you are moving to Mexico, it seems logical to convert some of your pesos to gold. We moved here in the first quarter of 2015. Gold was MXN18,000; today at MXN30,499. Converting dollars to Pesos would have given us a big loss.

More about the implications to come.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Marilyn Murray Willison: How to Live Large in International Retirement - Part 2

In my previous column, I introduced “Positive Aging” readers to International Living Magazine and its Annual Global Retirement Index, which evaluates the best places for American retirees to relocate overseas. Last week, we highlighted Columbia, Portugal, Peru, Thailand and Spain.
Do you remember the July 3 column I wrote about Dan Buettner’s book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest? He had researched and identified specific places on the globe where people tend to enjoy enhanced longevity thanks to diet and lifestyle.
Well, this week, we’re going to take a look at the places International Living considers to be the top five retirement destinations, which actually seem to be clustered near a geographical Blue Zone that is not all that distant from the good old USA.
5: MALAYSIA. There are four UNESCO World Heritage Sites here, along with many stunning islands, beautiful beaches and unspoiled rainforests. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to really discover the country 600 years ago. Then came the Dutch, and then the English. The multicultural flavor makes it a unique place to retire, and the excellent low-cost health care can’t be beat.
4: ECUADOR. This country has been in the magazine’s index for several years. The great weather, the excellent, affordable health care and the availability of affordable real estate all contribute to its high score. Additionally, people over the age of 65 often get discounts on flights that originate in Ecuador, as well as 50 percent off movies, sporting events, public transport and utilities. Plus, if you purchase a property, you have the option of a free landline.
3: MEXICO. Thousands of older Americans have chosen to retire in Mexico during the past few decades, and it is easy to see why. Thanks to the weak peso, expats can live comfortably on about $1,200 a month. There are first-rate hospitals throughout the country, and it’s not hard to find someone who speaks English. Residents over the age of 60 receive an INAPAM card, which offers discounts on everything from groceries to restaurants to both local and airline travel. There is a wide variety of climates and cultural environments from which to choose. And life in Mexico has never been more affordable for Americans.
2: COSTA RICA. This has been a desired retirement spot for Americans for the past three to four decades. As long as you receive at least $1,000 per month from Social Security, disability, pension or some other source, you meet the income requirement for residence. According to the magazine’s Latin American editor, rents start at $400 a month for fully furnished condos or houses in nice areas. The health-care situation is both affordable and highly rated, and the country offers a variety of climates — from mountainous to sunny beaches — to meet your preference.
1: PANAMA. There is a wide variety of nationalities already settled in Panama, so if you move there, you’ll never have to feel like an outsider. As with Ecuador, “pensionados,” or retirees, get discounts on everything from health care to hotels to restaurants to travel. The country has beautiful geography, affordable health care and excellent infrastructure. According to International Living, it offers the most benefits of a Central or South American retirement destination.
— Marilyn Murray Willison is a columnist, motivational speaker and journalist, and author of The Self-Empowered Woman blog and the award-winning memoir One Woman, Four Decades, Eight WishesClick here to contact her, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Friday, August 16, 2019

In Defense of the Hard-Shell Taco

In Defense of the Hard-Shell Taco:

Here, however, hard-shelled tacos filled with lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheese has become a standard weeknight meal and — for better and worse — the face of Mexican food in the country.
The history of the dish may surprise some though. While Glen Bell and his Taco Bell franchise often gets credit for its nationwide popularity, the true origins are completely Mexican. Los Angeles Times food writer Gustavo Arellano wrote about the history in his book Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. The hard-shell dish that inspired Taco Bell’s legacy was originally found at Mitla Cafe, a restaurant in San Bernardino, California. The restaurant was opened in 1937 by Lucia Rodriguez, who crafted the popular taco recipe using available ingredients to make something familiar to the food she grew up within Tepatitlan, Mexico, yet completely new at the same time. Unlike today’s global market, actual Mexican ingredients were difficult to get during this time period, even at border towns. Unable to find things like cilantro and spices, the community adapted using ingredients like lettuce and shredded cheese. The beef taco seems basic, but it was born out of trying to make the best out of the situation at hand. Not inauthentic, but actually completely honest in that it was the best that could be done with what was available to the community at the time.
Glen Bell, who happened to own a hamburger and hot dog stand across the street at the time, walked across the road to eat at Mitla Cafe daily. He became enamored not only by the tacos but also their popularity in the community.
Arellano describes Bell’s fascination in Taco USA:
“[Bell would] return to his stand to sell food, but spend late nights after closing time trying to decipher the rival restaurant’s tacos, so popular that they opened a walk-up window next to the kitchen, so the lines ran faster.”
The technique for creating the iconic U-shaped tortillas at Mitla daily is daunting: fresh corn tortillas are folded into a pan of oil and pressed down gently with a ladle until fried and fully shaped. Bell, eager to find a way to replicate this, not only developed his own recipe but also fastened a wire basket that could fry six U-shaped tortillas at a time. Despite some early successes here and there with Mexican restaurants during the 1950s, it would take over a decade of ups and downs before Bell finally found his stride and launched the first Taco Bell in a Los Angeles suburb. Today the chain has more than 7,000 restaurants worldwide rakes in annual earnings of nearly $11 billion (according to the Orange County Business Journal). Though hard-shell beef tacos are the most well-known, the idea of crispy tacos goes back somewhat further in American history. Tacos dorados, a general term for any kind of fried taco (but typically filled first and fried together) was a popular item among Mexicans in Southern California as far back as the 1910s. (According to Arellano, “When a customer [at Mitla Cafe] asks for a hard-shelled taco with ground beef, the order is repeated in Spanish — taco dorado con carne molida”). 
Taquitos, the rolled up tacos often filled simply with beans or ground meat, is a popular version of the deep fried taco that’s become so common it’s a staple in the frozen goods section of most grocery stores. Other variations of dorados covered in different sauces and toppings span the Southwestern U.S.
Here in Columbia, nothing exemplifies the love of the hard-shell more than the famous Taco Tuesdays at The Whig. The simple pleasure of lettuce, tomato, and cheese over the well-seasoned ground beef or black beans is hard to beat. For years, locals have constantly flocked to the ubiquitous dive bar for cheap, nostalgic tacos. Similar tacos can be found at many places, including taquerias like Moctezuma’s Mexican Restaurant, which quietly serves generously stuffed beef tacos on their lunch and dinner special plates. 
There’s no better display of hard-shell taco evolution though than down Percival Road at Tacos Nayarit. Using a Chipotle-style setup where you pick from traditional Mexican taqueria fillings, Tacos Nayarit lets you choose from the classic corn tortilla, flour tortilla or hard-shell dorados These aren’t premade hard shells from the store either, but rather yellow corn tortillas that they fry in an actual slotted basket built for shaping tortillas into the iconic U-shape. The fry takes less than a couple of minutes, yielding beautiful golden receptacles ready to be filled.
The tacos are then dressed any way you want. Carnitas with grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, and cheese? Marinated chicken with corn relish and guacamole salsa? The options are plentiful and fit perfectly snug in the warm, fresh fried hard shells. There’s something odd at first when you eat one of these at Tacos Nayarit. Unlike The Whig, which just bursts with American nostalgia, this plays with everything you know about a taco. Layers of crispiness, from the hard-shell to the lettuce to the bits of carnita or al pastor, give the food a fresh perspective. Is it traditional? No. But the spirit is still there in the flavors and feeling. And it’s delicious.

Vinícius Caricatte