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Summer Field School in Ethnography (2005, 2006, 2007)
MIRA: Multimedia Interdisciplinary Research in Anthropology
A collaborative and comparative study of tourism destinations and cultures

How to Calculate On-Site, Incidental Expenses for Summer 2006
Note: The exchange rate has maintained at about 10.5 dollar/peso since summer 2005
Check today's rates at or at
Also visit the OSEA travel resources pages

There four main categories of incidental expenses that students will have on location
1. Dinners in Mérida, Pisté and Playa del Carmen during "week" (work week includes Sat. & Sun.)
2. "Weekends" meals, if traveling off-location (non-work days, often Mondays and Tuesdays)
3. Food, Lodging, Travel & Activities during Break (four days and nights at end of July 28-31)
4. Photocopies of reading materials purchased on site (Approximately $2-5)

Please review the MIRA schedule of activities for details on weekends and break

Dinners in Mérida, Pisté and Playa del Carmen During "week"
The main meals are taken during lunch. These are usually very satisfying and typically provide one enough food to eat lightly during the evening. If one chooses to eat the price range can vary from a few dollars to $10 or more depending on hunger and taste. The lunches will typically consist of the traditional full course Yucatec meal comprised of a meat dish, small salad, rice, beans, garnish. The side salads are usually 2-3 slices of tomato, some lettuce, and cucumber. Saturday and Sunday lunches in Mérida will typically be roasted chicken, pork skewers, or ribs with side dishes. Note that vegetarians -- even vegans -- have survived the Yucatecan diet, which is fundamentally meat (pig) based.

Mérida. Full dinners in the tourist zone downtown at low budget restaurants will be anywhere from $3 for side of guacamole to $4.50 for a full course typical Yucatec meal (meat dish, small salad, rice, beans, garnish). Coffees are 12 pesos, about $1 a cup no refills. You can also go the route of typical Mexican evening snack food: Tacos! These can range about $3-4 for a plate of 3 tacos at a restaurant. Off-tourist zone in parks such as Santiago and Santana there are snack shops where prices are considerably cheaper and the clientele is much more local. You also always have the option of going much more expensive for dinner. There are a few Italian restaurants, one that is excellent where you should expect to spend $3 for garlic-tomato bread, $6 for a pasta plus your beverages. There is a subway downtown with prices a bit more expensive than the US, but it has free WIFI. Large pizzas for 2-3 persons will be $7-$10.
Estimate $2-3 a night in Mérida if you are frugal, $5 a night if you want to go budget, and $7+ if you are a must go out at night person.

Pisté. There are two types of places to eat in Pisté for dinner, one is for tourists where you will spend from $4 to $10. The other types of places are for locals where you cannot spend more than $4 for a meal. Beverages, such as soda or beer in Pisté during the evenings will add up however.
Estimate $3-4 a night maximum unless you must go out every night for a little snack and beverage.

Playa del Carmen. The range of dinner ranges from extremes. On the tourist strip you could easily spend $40 or more not counted beverages for the highest quality restaurant experience. On the budget side of food you can expect to pay $4 for a plate of 3 excellent seafood tacos at Dr. Tacos, $2 for a slice of gourmet, LARGE pizza slices plus small coke at the ubiquitous pizza stalls that stay open till 2am. There are several loncherias, Mexican taco stands, barbeque-taco joints and more that serve the working class of Playa del Carmen. Eating with working locals can cost $3-5 a dinner meal.
Estimate $3 a night in Playa if you are frugal, $5 a night if you want to go budget, and $7+ if you are a must go out at night person.

Food during "weekends"
Your breakfast and lunches are covered during the "weekends" if do not travel away from the program location. If you decide to leave the location then you will need to pay for all your food and water.

Food, Lodging, Travel & Activities During Break
Please note the above discussion for estimating your expenses. If you go budget you should expect to pay $10-15 for food, water, beverages during the vacation. Add money, say $20-$30 for a splurging on a meal or two. You can always spend more by going to restaurants. You can always spend less by eating on the street.

Lodging can range considerably. For Playa, Tulum, and Isla Mujeres estimate $20 a night to stay budget as a single. $15 a night for doubles. For Cancun, I would recommend specific hotels that are in the $40-50 a night range in the center of town; or go for the luxury hotels on the strip through a Mérida travel agent to get a room for $50 a night that is priced in the USA for US tourists at $100-140 a night. Ask me about this if you are interested in Cancun. Remember Tulum can be very cheap, but also very expensive. The beach front low budget cabañas at Tulum can be fun, but also a risk for being robbed.

For the four day vacation you can estimate about $30-40 a day depending on your inclinations.

Transportation from Playa del Carmen to your vacation destinations. The return ticket from Playa to Mérida or Pisté is covered by OSEA. Estimate maximum of $8 to get one way from Playa to Cancun or to Tulum. To get to Isla Mujeres you will need to take a taxi from Cancun bus station to one or two ferries. The Isla ferry is about $12 each way. The ferry between Playa and Cozumel is about $20 each way. Cozumel is a significantly more expensive trip than one might expect not only because of the ferry, but the hotels and restaurants in Cozumel cater to the mass-US tourist type that is out to experience "México."

Recreational Activities. At Isla you can get a group together of about 4-8 persons and rent a boat to go snorkeling. Typically the boatman also goes fishing and you can eat a fried fish lunch with all the trimmings. This can range from $20-50 a person depending on size of group. Scuba diving in cenotes is also possible. Check tourist guide books for pricing.

Calculate your costs for going out at night. Most clubs will not have a cover, but a cover would be around $5. Great Night Life of all range and types is available in Playa and Cancun. More mellow but also good night life is available in Tulum and Isla. Tulum is hippie-hip and Isla is a bit of renegade gringo mixed with a bit of European. Cancun, like Cozumel, is primarily middle-America gringolandia. Playa is cosmopolitan with three specific tourism consumption zones, the Italian, Mexican, and US zones.