Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sticker Shock

Gas prices in the U.S. started their dramatic rise while we were still living in Peru. We read about the general populace's anger and despair in various newspapers and heard from friends and relatives just how expensive fuel had become. We were sympathetic, or tried to be, but it was hard because we had been paying somewhere between $5 and $7 a gallon the whole time we lived in Lima. With no safe public transportation alternative, we had little choice but to plunk down the cash and fill our tank. And besides, we were paying for everything with monopoly money anyway, right - so it didn't feel quite so painful. Reality set in when we returned to the states this summer and saw prices as high as $4.79/gallon in Washington, DC. The guy at the rental car place had promised me that pre-paying for a tank of gas at $3.77/gallon was a real bargain. I reluctantly believed him thinking I had just been sold a bill of goods - it was immediately clear that I had not been. When Isaac, my Dad and I took a trip to Arizona, we were thrilled to find gas along the way for just over 4 dollars, a lot cheaper than anywhere in Provo, UT and certainly anywhere in the DC metro area. And, then, just as we were leaving the US for Caracas prices started to fall and we breathed a sigh a relief along with our fellow Americans hoping the worst is behind us and that a new person in the White House will mean lasting relief.

Before moving to Caracas we knew very little about the city or the country. But, among the things we did know was that the Venezuelan currency is called the bolivar fuerte (known by Embassy folks as "Bs"); that inflation is rampant and the exchange rate in constant flux (today the US dollar is worth about 3.5 Bs; and that the country is rich in oil, very rich and as a consequence, gas prices are very low. Yesterday we filled our 51 liter gas tank - roughly 13.5 gallons - and when the attendant came to collect he asked us for 5 Bs. That's right, not 500, not even 50, just
Translation: it cost us less than $1.50 for 13 gallons of gas. To put this in even better perspective, a can of coke costs 3 Bs, a loaf of bread costs 4 Bs, a 5 gallon bottle of water costs 10 Bs. We live in a country where GAS is cheaper than WATER. We are still reeling from this revelation while simultaneously planning a road trip to Brazil and back again and again and again and again and again...

18 comments:

dana said...

Wow and well, WOW. Amazing.
I want 13 gallons of gas for $1.50!!
Hey, I just want 1 gallon of gas for $1.50
Here's to hoping Sarah Palin can start pulling some Anwar strings in Washington....

teresa and the boys said...

Ummm... can we set up some sort of pipeline from your nearest gas station to my garage, please?

two forks said...

a roadtrip to brazil! where do i sign up??

gab said...

I had to reread that a few times just to make sure I had it right.

alisa and sometimes brandon said...

$1.50 for a full tank of gas?!?!?!

Sorry, sister, you can't be too bummed about foreign cable companies! ;)

Kahilau said...

Wow, how fun is that? I didn't know you knew Jackie and Aaron either, they were in our TVA ward and Jackie and I served our missions together. I had no idea you guys were such world travelers. How fun! So seriously those gas prices are unbelievable! Enjoy your sticker shock, it could be sticker shock for a different reason.

Christie said...

Yes, your gas might be cheaper than water. But can you drink that water?

If so, I'm moving there tomorrow.

diane said...

What a nice surprise. They really know how to welcome new comers. Enjoy your gas prices and road trips.

Tristan said...

WOW! That is really all I can say!

Sebastian said...

I'll APO you some real milk if you APO me some cheap gas...prices are still rising here in Lima

Paige said...

That is truly amazing. But I'm still freaking about your mumps thing. I agree, that second M in MMR is a little important! Now if only I could be vaccinated for lumps.

Cecily said...

$4 gas . . . chavez . . . $4 gas . . . chavez. Hmmm . . . you keep Chavez, I'll pay $4/gal.

Kahanu said...

I like that kind of sticker shock! You need to plan a lot of those road trips!

Motherhood for Dummies said...

Yea gas is super cheap in Venezuela. My husband's mom said it cost under 10 bucks to fill their SUV.. WOW... but yea.. then they have to deal with a dictator Chavez.... not a fair trade off :)

Ilene said...

That is awesome. At least Chavez isn't screwing HIS people at the pumps.

SFGiantsDude said...

No way, that makes me sick to see how much we really are paying for gas! I'm moving!

Adrianne said...

Who cares about disease if gas is that cheap...You won't live long, but you'll get to do a lot of driving while you are alive!

Jenibelle said...

Wow! It's fascinating to me how different parts of the world are!
Post pictures of the countryside!

 

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