I’m a planner.
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C, a friend (Y), and I are standing in Cozumel with nothing planned. I told C that he was allowed to pick what we do. C does not plan.
He decides we will rent a car and drive around the island. Y and C both speak Spanish, so I trust they are able to find a good deal and haggle. C takes charge and picks one of the many men standing there shouting at us to rent a car.
We are taken into this back alley and into their store. This is where I am reminded – M needs to learn Spanish.
The price was $75 (US) for half a day. We decide it was better than $40 per person for the 90 minute horse-drawn carriage ride. C hands over $100 and I question it. He also was handing over his cruise sign and sail card. This would mean he could not get back on the ship.
“Oh, we need to buy insurance too”
Great, I think. There goes the cash we had saved for a planned excursion for our second leg of the cruise. But that is not important for this blog post. C, I love you.
Here is the jeep we rented
I left the picture large so you can clearly see we rented an ‘eep’.
The eep is run down. Everything has been rubbed off so we cannot read any of the buttons anywhere. There is NO radio or air. Which is fine because they took the top off. It was January, so the weather was perfect. The car is manual, so only C could drive it.
We take off in our eep and explore the island. After our first stop to get drinks and tacos, we get back in our car to find we can’t get it into reserve.
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The car started smoking and would only go forward. As you can imagine, I’m about ready to go back and drink more. Turns out our ‘eep’ was not normal for a manual car and C could not get it into reserve. The marking were rubbed off, so it was not like he could use that as a guide.
Finally, we continue on.
We drive around the island, stopping here and there for the tequila tour (more on that on another post). The company left every little gas in the car, less than 1/4 of a tank. We get to the other side of the island and stop for a shopping break. Since we are on E, C asks one of the shop owners where the nearest gas station was.
There are no gas stations on the side of the island away from the cruise port.
While I am a little hesitant to believe there are NO gas stations, the last thing I want is to be stuck on the wrong side of the island in Cozumel. After shopping, we decide to go back to the gas station we saw 6 miles away.
Obviously, in Mexico gas is not sold by the gallon. We only have a little cash left at this point. We put in $5. It doesn’t even move the needle. We decide to put in $15 more. Barely moves the needle, but they didn’t give us much to begin with so we assumed we were OK.
We decide to drop off the car and check out the Hard Rock. (I collect Hard Rock shot glasses) We’re hot, hungry and out of money.
The guy who rented the car, looks at the gas and says we did not put any in it. We state that we did put $20 in. He says that is impossible. (You know, because the gas gage on the POS is I’m sure 100% accurate) He refuses to give C back his sign and sail card unless we give him $10 more dollars. I’m fuming at this point. I’m out of cash and he won’t take credit.
Y and I are about to walk back to the ship to get cash, when C remembers he has a ten left. We give it to him and head to Hard Rock. The experience left a bad taste in my mouth.
Well now we know not to do that again.~ C
All in all,
Be careful if you decide to not plan an excursion ahead of time. While ours did not end horribly, it really could have.
If you do decide to wait and grab an excursion on land, here are a few tips.
Tips on finding an excursion
- Ask for full quote up front. If they try to change it once they have you, be fully prepared to walk away. You will find someone else to give you that price.
- If renting a vehicle, ask to see it before signing anything. Also, find out exactly how much gas they expect you to return it with and what the approximate cost will be.
- If you cannot speak the native language, choose a guide who seems to speak your language pretty well. This way there is no miscommunication between what is expected.
- Look over and ask questions before you sign any papers they give you.
- Be clear on the time you expect to be back – and make sure it is at least 90 minutes before you are supposed to be back on board.