The flight from Cleveland to Cancun went fine. We were very excited and I was hoping to sleep but that didn’t happen. As soon as we got off the plane, it was hot and sunny. Going through customs took over an hour. There were so many spring breakers. Once we took the shuttle to the car rental company, our day started going downhill…
Bummer #1: We were not informed that in order to rent a car, you needed to have a very large deposit with your credit card, and then it will be returned when the car is returned. The problem was, that I didn’t have a credit card that I could use. All I had was my debit card and the money that was in my account was basically all that we had for expenses in Mexico (gas, food, hotels, park fees, etc.). We were in quite a pickle. So Nic ran across the busy street to the gas station to get a calling card so I could call my bank and figure something out.
- I need to mention that Nic speaks absolutely no Spanish. I speak well, but haven’t used it in years, since I was in Peru in college. Don’t listen to anyone who says “Oh, don’t worry about it. Everyone speaks English in Mexico!” They are liars.
Bummer #2: The calling card was only usable with cell phones and neither of our phones would work down there. And, we couldn’t return the stupid thing. Bye bye 300 pesos.
We finally got things figured out with the car company (whose attendants spoke little English) and I ended up having to pay $100 more for some extra insurance or something. But I didn’t have to make the huge deposit, so I guess it was better than nothing. We got on the highway from Cancun to Merida and found ourselves cruising through the dry jungle with no sign of civilization for at least an hour. We were basically the only car on the road.
Bummer #3: And then, we ran into a cargo checkpoint by the police at the toll booth. The policeman waved us over, asked where we were from, where we were going etc. and then asked us if we had drugs. Then he made Nic get out of the car and show him what was in the trunk (nothing). Nic was very nervous and could not understand the policeman at all. He ended up just letting us go, but it was a stressful situation.
Back on the highway, and we needed to get some gas. So we pulled off the highway at a Pemex station in Valladolid.
Bummer #4: I pulled out a 500 pesos bill and asked the gas station attendant (no self serve in Mexico) to put in 500 pesos worth. The attendant took the 500 and said okay and started pumping. It came to 485 and the tank was full. The attendant came back to me with a 5o pesos bill and said that I didn’t give him enough money. I was confused for a second. I could of sworn that I gave him a 500 and not a 50. Both of the bills are very similar in color, so I thought that I was wrong and messed up. So I gave him more money. Later the next day, counting my money in my wallet, I realized that something wasn’t quite right. He switched the bills… bye bye 500 pesos. This happened again with a 200 and a 20 the very next day at another gas station. Lesson learned: do not pay them before they pump, and watch them like a hawk!
Bummer #5: We got back on the highway and were right on the outskirts of Merida (our destination) and we came across another police checkpoint. Police asked us to pull over… This time was much worse than the last. Nic was trying to use what little Spanish he knew with the policeman. It wasn’t working so I asked him to not talk and I took over the conversation. We were asked to get out of the car so the drug dogs could smell the car. Nic was very nervous because of the language barrier. The police picked up on it and noticed him shaking a little. They asked him to hold out his hands and asked me what was wrong with him; if he was on drugs; if we had cannabis; blah blah blah. They smelled his shaking fingers for drugs and decided that we weren’t a threat, so we were allowed to get back in the car and drive away.
By the time we had gotten to Merida, we hadn’t eaten for over 14 hours. We successfully found the hotel and got settled into our room at Hotel Maria del Carmen. It was a really nice hotel right in the center of Merida, the capital of the Yucatan Peninsula.
We emailed home and went into town to find some food. We felt pretty shaken up and defeated by the day. Our spirits were quite low.We stopped and got some street food. It was mangos with lime juice and chili powder, served by a little Mayan woman on the corner. We walked around town a bit and gained our energy back.
We really enjoyed people watching in the main square. It was a beautiful city and we felt pretty safe walking around among the locals. We found an ATM and then walked around to find a restaurant to get some real food. We found a place right in the square with local food. I got a pumpkin seed quesadilla and Nic had some chicken fajitas. We also had a beer and relaxed, watching people pass by. It was a nice dinner and felt good to be settled and out of the car.
After dinner, we wandered down the dark streets to our hotel (once again, very safe). Nic swam in the pool and then we watched some TV and went to bed early. The bed was really comfy and the room was very nice and clean. It was cheap too, so we were pleased. Thank God that day was over!!!
*click the pictures to enlarge.