Fund the Shifting Latin American politics Tour of 2024

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In 2016 we went to Ukraine. In 2017 we went to Georgia and Armenia. In 2018 to Jordan and Israel. In 2019 to Zimbabwe, in 2021 to Moldova, in 2022 to Central Asia and in 2023 to Lao and Cambodia. All have in common a recent history of having been influenced (or outright conquered) by the Soviet Union. Additionally, over the years, we also went to Albania (2018), Germany (2019), Sweden (2020) and Bulgaria (2021) without making a fundraiser for it – but those places were also chosen for their totalitarian recent past.

So in keeping with this tradition of gathering knowledge and wisdom and then delivering it to you as stories, we submit to y’all the proposal for a Latin America Tour dubbed as ”Shifting Latin American politics” as the countries visited are either right after a transformative moment (Colombia) or in the middle of one (Ecuador).

The video above goes a bit into the itinerary and the minimum things to expect from this tour.

This article is focused on the financial details. Not all expenses are thoroughly detailed – only those funded through the fundraiser.

So, without further ado…

For consistency, all expenses are converted in USD at the median exchange rate for the period between February 1 and February 15, 2024. This is also because all donations are converted to USD as it’s the working currency for almost all operations of this Network. In this case, the national currency of Ecuador is the US Dollar which certainly makes things easier.

In places where there is price variation (e.g. internal flights) – the maximal option is listed. The rest of the list represents the median/most likely costs.

1. Flights

Cluj Napoca – Bogotá: $1200 (round trip)
Bogotá – Medelin: $80
Medelin – Quito: $140
Quito – Guayaquil: $80
Guayaquil – Bogotá: $130

2. Housing

~$22/night on average, no more than 30 nights, no less than 26 nights [to be decided depending on flight availability if the first goal is reached in time]

As such, the budget for housing is to be presumed $660.

3. Transport inside the city

The biggest expense in this department will be going to and from the airport to the city. In Colombia, the cheapest possible option (but not always available) is around $22. The most likely option is no more than $30 but not less than $26 [102,000 Colombian Peso].

In Ecuador there’s Quito [and specifically Quito airport] and the rest of the country [including the rest of Quito]. Getting from Mariscal Sucre Quito International Airport (UIO) to anywhere in the city is subjected to a flat rate: $31. In the rest of the country (including Guayaquil, which is of interest here) taxi fares are far more reasonable – at about $0.65/km.

The good news is that Colombia has relatively-reliable public transport and so does Guayaquil. The problem will remain Quito. And since we’ll need to get to and from the airport, all of the above is times two; and in Bogotá it’s times three. So…

Getting to and from the airport: $262 [30×4 + 30×2 + 31×2 + 10×2]
Public transport: $48 [$12 times 4 cities]

4. Food and drink

The biggest problem will be dinner in Ecuador. Not only because there might still be a curfew at arrival but also because the local culture prioritizes breakfast and/or lunch outside while dinner at home. And, as such, there is little variety and high prices. With that said, a budget of $15/day should cover nearly all surprises. So,

Food budget: $450 [$15/day x 30 days]
Coffee budget: $120 [$4/day x 30 days]

5. Fees, books, tickets, etc.

At the turn of the 20th century, Colombia was a regarded as a failed state and Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) was wrecking havoc. In under 20 years, all of that is ancient history. But how? To learn some of that, books will need to be bought.

Since we’ll be navigating between cities by airplane, there will be few opportunities to get the necessary transit shots. However, there are some opportunities by taking some old trains around Quito. Most interesting is this one. And around Bogotá this one.

Naturally, there are some museums on the menu. Some are free, but most charge between $1 and $4. So far there hasn’t been a single instance of a country where we didn’t find at least one relevant shot in the museums.

Nearly everything that is on the list to be videotaped is either free of charge or subjected to small fees (under $1 per piece) so we’ll just round ’em up.

Budget for books: $100
Train Quito: $39
Train Bogotá: $20
Museum tickets: $20
Other video fees: $10

6. Miscellaneous

Cigarettes in Colombia are about $2.2/pack (three times more expensive than South-East Asia, but a third of the price in Romania). In Ecuador, the price is about the same as Romania ($6/pack).

Telecommunications are similarly priced as Romania, albeit nowhere near as reliable.

Telecommunications budget: $15
Cigarettes budget: $66 [$2.2/pack times 30]

7. Other

Health insurance: $50
Equipment insurance: $40
On-the-fly consumables (batteries, memory cards, etc): $80
Exchange rate fees: $100 (maximum)
Unexpected expenses: $450 (minimum)

Total: $4160

This number represents the optimal in order for the tour to take place. The total cost may be higher, but not by much. The upper threshold will be placed at $4500.

Any excess will be redirected towards fulfilling the wishlist or towards funding another project in 2025.

Other clarifications

In Central Asia, the budget presented turned out to be wholly insufficient. The unexpected expenses went way over what was budgeted. Admittedly, it didn’t help that it was conceived in 2019 and executed in 2022.

In South-East Asia, the budget presented turned out to be too big – the biggest saving coming from housing where the average was way lower than expected, vastly outstripping the clownery of Cambodian payment system which more than doubled the estimated exchange rate costs.

As such, this fundraiser starts from 19%-ish which represents the excess from the previous years’ tour. Normally, this budget should stay realistic given that it is to be executed 8 months from now. But surprises can still emerge.

Minimums and deadlines

The tour is due to take place sometime between in the month October and November and it will last no more than 30 days. This means that plane tickets should be purchased no later than July 1, 2024.

As such, if the fundraiser doesn’t reach to at least $2000 by May 25, 2024, the tour is cancelled and all collected funds redirected to other projects. Accomplished as of May 9, 2024.

If the fundraiser doesn’t reach at least $2700 by June 25, 2024, the tour is cancelled and all collected funds redirected to other projects. Of course, if it will be $2615 on June 25 or something similar, it will be fine. But too much leeway downwards will lead to cancellation – because by June 25, The expensive flights must be paid for already.

Anything beyond $4500, as well as any remaining shekel after the tour, will be redirected towards other projects or to fulfilling the wishlist.

The state of the fundraiser will be updated regularly on the main page of the website and semi-regularly on the Youtube channels.

If this convinces you, head over to the Donate page and pitch in. Every dollar counts!