Low-cost living in South Texas

LOCATION: In our tiny house in Retama Village in Mission, Texas
WEATHER: Beautiful. Sunny. High 82

In this post, I am going to focus on how inexpensive it is to live in the Rio Grande Valley. Mission and McAllen (our neighboring city) have some of the lowest cost of living indices in the USA.

Today started with delicious Texas pink grapefruit – free! People with grapefruit and orange trees set out buckets of citrus in front of their houses with signs saying -“please take — free” (Kind of like giving away zucchini in the Midwest in mid-summer).

George woke up with a toothache and said we had to go to Mexico to get the tooth pulled. He picked me up after 3 hours of line-dancing classes (we are preparing for a dance party), and away we went.

Nuevo Progreso, the nearest Mexican border town, is about a 45 minute drive.. On our way, we passed gas stations advertising gas for $1.79/gallon – the cheapest we have seen in a long time.

Nuevo Progreso was very busy. There were long lines to get into Mexico, both car and pedestrian. Once in town, we scurried past the hawkers wanting us to buy cialis, viagra, and every other known drug, to George’s dentist. No appointment required. After 20 minutes and $35, George was free of his aching tooth. He doesn’t get Novocain when he gets dental work!!! He figures he actually made money on the deal, as he will sell the gold filling for more than $35. 🙂

While he was getting some meds at one of the pharmacies, I hung out at a taco stand.

I ordered a gordita from a truck situated right in the main street. Gorditas (literally “little fat ones” ) are thick tortillas. I watched the senora make one from a ball of masa. She cooked it on the griddle, then slit it open (kind of like a pita). She asked me what filling I wanted (no English, of courses). I could choose from egg, cactus, potato, meat, and some word I did not recognize. I went with the meat. It was quite tasty – for $1.

I watched the street scene while he was at the pharmacy. Vendors run up and down the street, selling their wares to people in cars backed up from the border. The windshield wiper guy was doing quite a business. There were a lot of gringos drinking and eating in balconies overlooking the street.

We had to stand in line for more than an hour to cross back into the US. The longest wait we have ever experienced.

Then, back toward home, we stopped to do our weekly grocery shopping. When my friend from Minnesota was here, she marveled at how many aisles are dedicated to produce here, as compared to the Midwest. The fruit and veg are cheap and really fresh. We bought a huge, beautiful bunch of cilantro for a quarter; avocados for $.50, and mangos at their peak for $.50 each.

Back home, we made a fire in our firepit and watched the beautiful sunset.

DINNER: Sauteed scallops in a garlic, butter sauce, served over angel hair pasta. Side was roasted asparagus ($1.25/pound) drizzled with balsamic vinegar and shaved parmesan. Quite gourmet! (And easy for George to eat with his missing tooth)

BOOK: “Dust” by Martha Grimes. Part of a British detective series that I like. 4 stars out of 5.

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