Withdrawing money from ATM
Be careful when you withdraw money at ATMs in Mexico. In most other countries I've been so far, including my home country, the ATM gives out the card first, then the money, then the receipt. In Mexico, first comes out the money, than the receipt and in the end the card. It happened to me once that I took the money and the receipt and out of habit I thought I had everything and left. Thankfully someone handed my in credit card at the bank where I picked it up the next day.
It might not be like this anymore, it is a few years ago that I was in Mexico.
(by HappyTraveller)Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Business Travel
- Family Travel
Drug Wars & Tourism
Don't let anyone convince you to put off your planned trip to Mexico. Yes, there are some very dangerous areas there....but the majority of the violence that's been reported in the media recently is drug gang vs. drug gang warfare. Like others have said....if you aren't involved in the narcotics business you'll probably avoid all of that drama. Very few tourists have been caught up in any violence down in Mexico recently. If I took the advice of all the paranoid people who informed us how dangerous one place or the other was I probably would have missed out on many great adventures.
You are experienced travellers....and Mexico is too fascinating to miss. Also, Mexico City is not so bad...I actully loved the place. Teotihuacan is a wonderful pre-spanish historical site to visit. I think its not to be missed if you find yourself in the Mexico City area.
Enjoy it...and don't miss out on Mexico!
(P.S. I just got back from Tijuana and northern Baja after a drive with my family.....no problems at all despite the daily news reports citing drug violence).
I tend to travel alone, and have pretty good street smarts- although I wasn't expecting what I encountered in the first 10 minutes of my trip.
I rented a car in Mexico City to head south for 2 weeks. After I I left the rental car co, and was heading out of the city, the police stopped me at an intersection (apparently the stop light at this busy intersection was down and there were at least 5 cops there directing traffic and just standing around). Being a blond female in a rental car- I apparently radiated, and they made me pull over for no reason except for that. Needless to say they insisted I ran a red light(!?!) and demanded my licence and passport. Of course I would not travel in Mexico with my passport so I gave them my licence after I realized pleading was in no way going to work . They proceeded to say I had to pay a 1000$ fine right then and there, or else , and I proceeded to say no way, and they brought it down to 500$ . Again I said no way, just give me a ticket, so they pulled over the remaining cops- one of which was their commander, and threatened/intimidated to arrest me if I did not pay immediately- so now I have 6 police officers surrounding me, etc...to make a long story short-
and here's a tip, Whenever I'm travelling abroad, I carry an old drivers licence, 90$ in cash (a lot of 5's so it looks like more) and an old credit card that does not work in a fanny pack (my real ID/credit cards and money are either in my boot or hidden in my unders). The way I got out of that issue was to open the fanny pack and make a big scene that all I had was what was in there and that my credit card has no pin- its only credit- (and if your a female alone: act scared and willing to give them everything in there- trust me, I worked in war zones, play the innocent scared little female card because attitudes will just get you hurt)....
Anyway, 90$ less and unhurt, I was on my way safe and sound...
But, My warning is NEVER trust any police in Mexico- the majority are more corrupt than the criminals there. and always have ready, and in the open something you CAN barter or give and keep your ID and real money hidden away
Otherwise, Mexico its a great country!!Related to:
- Women's Travel
When you are traveling by bus, it is not unusual to be stopped at a military checkpoint. These occurrences are rare, but we were stopped in the middle of the day somewhere in the state of Jalisco. One man in camo stood at the front of our bus with a gun as another walked around the bus "sniffing" for anything suspicious. He approached my friend, I assume because it was obvious we were traveling, and asked her to show him the contents of her purse. She was asked to open a small tin she had, which contained little white pills. He sniffed one with a curious look on his face. It took a little while to communicate that they were Altoids.
Don't step out into a cross walk and expect traffic to stop in Puerto Vallarta. You need to stay sharp and be vigilant. Tourists have been hit by buses, taxi's etc and killed. The streets are cobblestone and if you are not looking down you could easily trip or even step into a hole in the sidewalk (we saw tourists on crutches every trip we have made to Mexico. If you are going to be drinking and walking the streets be even more vigilant of watching your steps and waiting for traffic before stepping out into cross walks. We felt safe at night as far as crime goes but the driving is the real danger here.
bathrooms and toilet paper
ALWAYS BRING T.P. WHEREVER YOU GO. it is not uncommon for a hotel to sell you a room without providing toilet paper. if you get a room under any other circumstances, you may need to ask specifically for toilet paper. sometimes they look at you like you just asked them to loan you $100, then they have to walk two blocks to retrieve t.p. i don´t get it. even some restaurants don´t have t.p. just bring your own and you should be fine.....
about the bathrooms....well, don´t expect seat covers, let alone a seat. just hover and wash up afterward is the only advice i can give. of course not all of mexico is this way, but you will have to stay in a resort to bypass that inconvenience.
buses at night
i was told by locals not to take overnight buses unless it´s first class. it´s very common for buses to be stopped, sometimes raided. take first class and you should have no problem, because they don´t make any stops.
also, don´t worry too much about military check points. it´s just routine, even though they wear intimidating camouflage and carry big guns.
Some people say they have a iron stomach and won't get sick. Well I was one of them. Believe me I got very very sick and I was careful. After I returned to the US I looked up the symptons for Salmonella poisoning and I believe that is what I got. It is nothing to play with. I was in Mexico close to 4 months and felt bad half the time I lost over 20 pounds and 3 inches on my waist. SANITATION IN MEXICO IS HORRIFIC. You can watch your food prepares pick there noses and who knows what else and cook your food. It may drop on the floor, not be refrigerated and not cooked properly. Who knows if the ice in your drink came from tap water? What I learned was to carefully pick restaurants. If in doubt dont eat at them. Cook your own food as much as possible and be sure to wash all fruits and vegetables with purified water. Stay away from the GREASEY FOODS. It is not the spices, hot sause or salsa that gets you its the BACTERIA IN THE FOOD. I watched animals being slaugthered, the meat dropped on the ground, the meat tossed into the back of a pick up truck in over 100 degree heat who knows how long that meat will be in the sun and heat until it is refrigerated or prepared and in your stomach. BECAREFUL PEOPLE!
Most of your hotels will have one too. There are plenty around the hotel zone and you can go to a bank just like someone mentioned. It gives you pesos back too.
As for credit cards you should only use them in an emergency. Too many problems with people taking the numberes off of them and using it later. Most of the credit card reciepts have your whole number printed on it plus the expiration date. So pay in pesos whenever you can and tip in American dollars.
When in Mexico, as in many other countries, visitors have to be careful not to drink the water. The local supply of drinking water is often polluted by untreated sewage which is dumped into rivers and other sources of groundwater.
Although I was very careful about what I ate and drank, I still got a bout of "Montezuma's revenge." Fortunately, it hit after I returned home. I have known of a lot of people whose trips were ruined when they became sick during their vacations and had to stay in their hotel rooms near the toilet.
To avoid stomach problems, do not drink the water in any form. Many places put ice cubes which are made from the local water in their drinks. Make sure drinks do not contain ice cubes, or at least make sure they are made from distilled water. Also, vegetables such as lettuce that are washed in the local water can cause illness. Do not eat salads. Only eat local fruits that you can peel yourself. Food that has been thoroughly cooked is safe. Today, bottled water is popular, but when I was in Mexico, bottled water was a rarity. When buying bottled water, make sure the seal is unbroken. Many places recycle the bottles and fill them with local tap water.
Travelers diarrhea, etc.
Since bad diarrhea can ruin a vacation, it does pay to use some caution with what you eat or drink. Street food is great when hot or just cooked but fruit and vegetables that you do not peel yourself do present a risk. The risk of these items is less when you get them from a high class tourist hotel tourist/restaurant. Still, I would recommend that you be cautious with salads left exposed for a long time on buffets or from places where the hygiene might be suspect.
Water from old piping, street faucets or rivers and streams should be avoided, but with bottled water in easily carried sizes readily available this is easy to do. (I am old enough to remember when one had to drink sodas or beer to be safe.) I think the day of the large water bottle at the drinking fountain being refilled with ordinary untreated tap water is long gone in Mexico. Many high class hotels have purified water systems that provide drinking water to their rooms, just do not get confused on which tap is safe.
Also to be considered is high altitude, excessive drinking or eating and exhaustion as things that can increase your risks.
Not everyone exposed to the risks will suffer, so testimonials from people who never have experienced a problem do not prove anything. Even I, who have an iron stomach when it comes to Mexican food and water, will tend to avoid salads on a brief vacation to Mexico. Good luck.
Scooters in Cozumel
After 7pm you can not park anywhere near the beach front (not sure if it's just around San Miguel, Cozumel). We came back after dinner to find our scooter had been impounded by the police. To be honest I think they usually charge tourists whatever they like, as a local said we'd have to pay quite a bit to get it released but because by boyfriend had Mexican family they let us off.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Scams at the airport
On arrival to Mazatlan, and passing through customs, you are swarmed with people who appear to work for the airport when in reality they are paid by cut rate timeshare business to intercept you on your way to a taxi to guide you to a fast talking time share presenter. We thought we were guided to the transportation area. In reality, our luggage was loaded on the airport luggage carts ( they did ask if we wanted help), and wheeled down the walk way to the left of the taxi area in a dead end area filled with tables. There they offered us a rebate on our taxi fare to our destination if we set up an appointment to listen to their offer. We had to pay $66.00(US) up front and told it would be rebated after the presentation.
DON'T DO IT. We were told by our timeshare that these places are substandard and don't come through with many of their promises. Our timeshare host (SeaGarden of the Mayan Palaces chain) was gracious enough to offer us a compensation for our mistake by paying our way back to the airport and $660(Mex)(pesos) toward dinner at one of the restaurants they had personally eaten at and had arrangements to accept our voucher. Vacation saved !
One other place you should be wary of is a jewelry store that many of the tour buses make stops is PARDO jewelry. We "won" gem stones in a "drawning". they set the stones in a nice "looking" ring setting. We left for home 2 days later. Within a week the stone fell out of the setting. After several attempts to contact them, we found out that they would not repair or reset the stones. It turned out to be more of a hassel that it was just to buy sonething back home.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
regarding the water issue
I was warned before I went on this trip that there may be parasites lurking in the tap water and that I was not to use it to brush my teeth. I was also warned against eating uncooked food such as salads. I broke all these rules and didn't have any stomach related problems at all threat to three weeks.
In fact, it would be a waste not to try some of the salads because they are delicious!Related to:
- Work Abroad
- Study Abroad
- School Holidays
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