My name is Gerardo Turrubiartes. I am 20-years-old, and I live in the state of San Luis PotÚsi, MŤxico. San Luis is located in the middle of Mexico. In fact, we are the neighbor of ten states: Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Aguascalientes, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Hidalgo, Queretaro, Guanajuato, Jalisco, and Zacatecas.
My beautiful hometown
In Mexico, people say the state of San Luis has the shape of a dog. My city, called San Luis Potosi, is one of Mexico's oldest cities. San Luis is full of history and antique constructions such as: churches, plazas, theatres, and beautiful gardens. That's why San Luis is called "City of Gardens," and it is true here in San Luis you can find the most beautiful gardens all over the city.
To live in San Luis Potosi is very comfortable. You can visit many places without spending much money. You can visit museums, parks and old buildings, the dam, and if you like short journeys, you can go to the Mexquitic's zoo. If you have time and a few pesos, you can go to the " Huasteca Potosina." To visit the Huasteca is very fun because it has a lot of green vegetation, amazing falls, rivers, lakes and you can learn about indigenous cultures. Sometimes when I'm on vacation, I go to the Huasteca with my friends. We only spend around 200 or 500 pesos, which is a low price for all the fun that you can have. (A peso is Mexican money--one U.S. dollar was worth about nine pesos when this story was written. The value changes every day.)
School, work, school, Kung Fu
In a normal day here in San Luis, I try to get up at 5:30 a.m. to fix my clothes, take a bath, and gather the things that I'm going to need for school. If I'm not in a hurry I take my breakfast.
To go to school I take the bus, which costs 1.50 pesos, and this price is just for students; the normal fare is 3 pesos.
After 20 minutes on the bus, I arrive at school at 7:15 a.m. to take my first class. I'm studying to be a civil engineer at a state university called " Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi." Studying here costs my parents 2,600 pesos per year, which is relatively cheap compared with a private school, where you have to pay 4,000 to 7,000 pesos.
Our university is one of the best in Mexico. Here you can study many different subjects. We have a lot of big buildings, football (soccer), basketball, and American football. In fact our American football team is one of the best in the university's league. We have a big library, a lot of laboratories, and five different cafeterias. But the best and the cheapest is the cafeteria of chemical sciences.
I take my lunch in this cafeteria, generally I spend 20 pesos a day there. My favorite lunches are "tortas de jamon y queso" (ham and cheese sandwiches), "molletes" (fried tortilla dough topped with beans, salsa, lettice, sour cream, and shredded cheese), and "jugos naturales" (hand-squeezed juices).
I have classes from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Our classes last 50 minutes, and we have 10 minutes to move from one classroom to another. We never have two different classes in the same classroom.
When my classes end, I must go to work. I work in my parent's jewelry store. To get there, I take another bus. The good thing about working for my parents is that while I'm working I also can study (if I don't have too much work). I work from 10:30 to 2:00 p.m.--waiting on customers, estimating repairs, replacing watch batteries, cleaning jewelry, and taking engraving orders.
Then I go back home to eat. To get home I take another two buses. After I eat, I go back to the school--and that means other bus. I arrive at school at 4:10 p.m., and my classes finish at 7:00 p.m.
When my classes end, I take Kung-Fu classes near home, which means one more bus. For these classes I pay 80 pesos per month. I really enjoy these classes because this is my way of taking a rest. My Kung-Fu classes finish at 9:30 p.m. Then I walk to my home. I arrive at my home at 10:00 p.m. if I have homework that I haven`t done I work on it until 11:00 p.m. Then I finally go to sleep.
But not all in my life is work and study. Here in San Luis, every Wednesday the movie price is lower than on the other days. That's why almost every teenager from the city goes to the movies on Wednesday. The normal price for movies is around 35 pesos, but on Wednesday it costs just 15 or 20 pesos.
|You can roughly estimate the dollar value of pesos by shifting the decimal point. Thirty-five pesos is about US$3.50. US$530 is about 5,300 pesos.|
If you don't have a car, you have to take a taxi to get home--which means more money. That's why my friends and I work, to get enough money to pay the bills in the disco.
At my age it is very common to have dates with girls or to go out with your girlfriend. Fortunately I don't have a girlfriend at the moment, and I don't have to spend my money in gifts or stuff like that. Sometimes I date girls from the school. And more or less in each date I spent 100 or 200 pesos. That's why I don't date too often. Almost all my friends have a girlfriend but none of them thinks about getting married yet, and I don't either.
Why I'm lucky
I think that I'm a lucky man because I can work and study at the same time. Here in San Luis not every teenager can work and study. Most business owners and companies don't want to hire students because they cannot work all day. The people who hire students don't pay much. The most common jobs for teenagers are in the supermarkets where you only work six or four hours each day with one day a week to rest. It sounds great but it is not because sometimes you must work over time and sometimes they don't pay you for that time.
For working two weeks they pay you 450 pesos, which is fine for a teenager. I know this because before I started working for my parents, I worked in a supermarket for a year and six months. It wasn't bad for me because I only went there on weekends, but I worked eight hours Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I liked that job, but some of my co-workers had serious problems paying for school because they earned too little. Fortunately my parents help me to pay for my studies and give me money to spend on myself. They don't give me too much, but that money helps me a lot. Thanks to them I can keep half of my paycheck to spend in school and for other things.
When I saved enough money I used to buy shoes, pants, jackets, CDs, etc. I never spend all my money--I always try to keep some money for an emergency.
Now, with my parents I earn 300 pesos per week, which is very good, but sometimes I miss my friends from the supermarket.
Sometimes when my mother runs out of her money, I lend her a few pesos. I also give money to my little brothers when my parents are not home.
I started working at age 11
I have worked in many other jobs. I started to work when I was 11, cleaning and taking care of a dog. But it just lasted one month. When I was 14, on my vacations I worked in my uncle's jewelry store. I used my pay to buy comic books. Then when I was in the preparatory (high school), my teachers sent me to a textile factory to make my professional practices (internship). When I went there, I thought that they were not going to pay me, but then the manager told me that I was going to earn 100 pesos per week. At the time, it was better than nothing.
Then I stared to work in the supermarket and finally with my parents. Sometimes I also work as a waiter, but it is just to help a friend who has a business and he calls me when he doesn't have enough waiters. It is OK because you can earn from 150 to 500 just for working 10 hours. Sometimes my grandpa and my uncles give me some money--otherwise I would spend my money too fast.
Anyhow, I keep working to get enough money to spend in my daily life. Besides, I'm trying to save money to buy a car to move myself faster than the bus. Maybe it will be cheaper too.
I take 6 or 7 buses per day, which in money is 10.50 pesos per day, which all week is 63 pesos, plus 20 everyday for lunch. One hundred twenty pesos a week is 183 pesos more than half of my salary, therefore without help of my parents, my grandpa, my uncles, and my extra jobs I wouldn't have enough money to spend on entertainment or to buy things.
When I finish my career, I would like to travel around the world to meet a lot of people and places, but I will always go back to my beautiful city, San Luis Potosi.
By Gerardo Turrubiartes
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