Harvey's Travel Views

This is my pros and cons on my last vacation to Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula during the last of June and the first of July 2007. This is my opinions/advice and any advice is like all advice in that it is worth what you pay for it and this is, of course, free. Just a little more info than you get via the companies, governments, and other web sites. I am getting tired of being ripped-off and not having it bother those responsible. And the BLOGS are so hard to find on the web -- I hope I can stand out a little more on the web and help my fellow travelers.


Of course, the first company I usually run into, after customs, is the car rental agency: Hertz-Cancun, in this case. It was a car rental nightmare, fret with problems. First, the rental cars Hertz-Cancun has and what the Hertz website states, and what Hertz Gold Club says, is completely different: problems. So when you contract for a Hertz rental car with Hertz in the US, this is a problem because it is a Hertz franchise-owner at Hertz-Cancun, Mexico.

When you get there, the first thing you notice is that the local list of rental cars and the Hertz list of cars is different:problems. For one, this Hertz agency has no "rental cars".   They have rental SUV's, rental Jeeps, and rental mini-vans: mostly rental Chrysler products. Also, since car rental insurance is so screwed up in Mexico, I had told the Hertz Gold Club exactly what car rental insurance I wanted, but when you get to Hertz-Cancun, they don't have that Hertz car rental info and then they sell your eyes out on getting total car rental insurance that you don't really need: problems. So when you make a deal with Hertz for a car rental, you can forget it. When you get to Hertz-Cancun, you are told they don't have the car rental you wanted, but you can have a Jeep Cherokee car rental, but wait and in 10 minutes they tell you they don't have a Jeep Cherokee car rental, but you can have a Dodge SUV car rental, but wait in 30 minutes they tell you (after you bitch a bit) that they don't have a Dodge car rental, but they have a Chrysler Voyager car rental  (read Plymouth and beat-up -- and you are ready to take anything: problem).

Then, if you ask for a map of Cancun/Mexico, you get sent to a (Hertz?) lady who starts selling you a lunch ($20.00) for a sales pitch for the Hertz franchisee's other properties: problem. All in all, it took more than an hour to get a vehicle and that was only because I spoke enough Spanish to understand what was going on. Then, when you return the car rental, the price you were quoted by Hertz Gold and Hertz Cancun was in dollars --- but they charge you in pesos at a rate that is very favorable to them and very unfavorable to you. So get a quote in pesos, if you can for your car rental -- it is the only thing half way meaningful: problems.

So what happens when you get back home and you call Hertz to complain: Hertz will tell that there is nothing they can do, since it is a HERTZ franchisee/private company: problems.

So my advice is to go with Thrifty -- they have the reputation for being the cheapest. The real problem is that the car rentals are very cheap, but the car rental insurance is the rip-off --- your car rental insurance will cost you more (2 to 3 times more!!) than the car rental. And if you read other car rental complaints about Hertz-Cancun, you will see that Hertz-Cancun doesn't even honor the car rental insurance that Hertz-Cancun sells you: problems.


Driving in the Yucatan is not much different than the US. The roads are not as good normally. There is a toll road from Cancun to Merida, and it is expensive -- 2-3 times more than the US --- but worth it, if you are in a hurry and want to avoid the TOPES. Topes is the old word for the old style of speed bumps that look like steel hemispheres about 6-8" tall, and is still used, as well as, for the international signage, for the more modern speed bumps, that we are used to. On the secondary roads, these are marked poorly, at best, so follow a local taxicab and he will slow down when needed. These don't exist on the toll roads (four lanes). These roads have signs though -- ubiquitous -- about like Burma shave signs, but without the rhyming and very moralistic. Other advice is that if you are driving, please learn little more than rudimentary Spanish - about the first three months of high school Spanish worth. Click here for do's and don't's at PEMEX stations.


The airport customs are pretty quick, but a 30-minute wait is not unusual. And if you carry a cooler in with food, it will be inspected and you will be expected to give the inspector a sample of something readily edible: like a snack bar - so have something ready, or it will cost you more. If he doesn't have to ask, it is better: he will just take it and give you a knowing nod.

Cancun is a partying town with a fantastic nightlife. On July 4th, I would compare it to a pre-Katrina New Orleans New Year's Eve. The main drag along the Hotel Zone is not a place for the cautious driver, or pedestrian. Be careful and stay off of scooters; a Hummer is best.

Cancun has great shopping and if you are shopping for food, it has four Wal-Marts and a lot of large, orange Chedraui super markets (like a Wal-Mart Supercenter), that like to advertise that they are cheaper than Wal-Mart. Cancun also has a COSTCO and a Sam's Club.


Cancun has some great hotels in the hotel zone, but you will get ripped off, if not careful. The WESTIN quoted a room for $179, but when I got there it was $30 more for an ocean view, then $30 more for an extra person, and then when I checked out, there was $60 more for taxes, that no one had mentioned. And then the bottled Evian was an extra cost in your room, because there water was filtered and drinkable --well, if it was OK, why have Evian. So anyway my room that I expected to pay $200 for, cost me over $300. Forget the WESTIN.

CANCUN - Hacienda Punta Sam

Cancun has some great hotels outside the hotel zone, and if you are taking the car ferry (or people ferry) to Isla Mujeres, the Hacienda Punta Sam is a good, reasonable hotel  (about $50.00) with friendly people, OK food, no A/C, nice beach and pool, and about a half-mile to the car ferry and people ferry. Talk to Maximo and he will take care of you.

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