Another reason we returned to Puerto Morelos was the fact that there is a lot to do around here and we just skimmed the surface on our last trip. We ended up renting a car for a couple of days so we could explore Chichen Itza (more on that later).
We landed in Cancun late at night and waited for a shuttle to take us to the car rental place. When they drove the Volkswagen Golf over to us I noticed the headlight wasn’t working and pointed it out. The guy opened the hood and screwed the bulb in tighter saying it was good now. Once we inspected the car with another employee, we tested the lights again. The headlight didn’t work. This employee simply smacked the headlight with his hand and it turned back on. I insisted it wasn’t safe to drive that way and they said it really wasn’t a problem. The light was fine. We just needed to hit it if it didn’t turn on. I knew from the start that we were in for some adventures.
Driving in Mexico was interesting. After driving in Greece this past summer, the roads in Mexico seemed luxurious. Luxurious meaning there’s actually room for cars traveling in opposite directions to fit on the same road. We started off a narrow road that wound through the jungle before merging onto a road that took us all the way to ChichenItza. We left early in the morning and drove through several tiny towns. We saw lots of children on their way to school. There were no school buses to take them. Instead they traveled to school on bicycle and moped taxis. It was pretty neat to see.
The long stretch of road took us through the middle of the Mexican desert and those several small towns. As you approached the smaller towns, speed bumps were everywhere signified by signs that look like, in my opinion, part of the female anatomy. When there were not speed bumps it was important to be on the lookout for chickens, dogs, birds and other animals in the middle of the road.
There were also random police officers standing in the road. Municipal police stations seem to be set up in the margin of highways in the bigger cities and right on the edge of the road in smaller towns. We were stopped by the police officer standing in the middle of the road and asked to pull off to the side. He asked to see the rental papers for the car which I had conveniently left on the table of our apartment. He then asked Michal to get out of the car.
Michal came back to the car and stated that the officer wanted us to give him 500 pesos in cash. I have read about corrupt police officers in Mexico and this felt like a prime example of it. Michal stated that he asked to guy to write him a ticket instead but he would not. I became infuriated. I’ve witnessed a lot of defiance and rage in my career and tapped into some of that. I bluntly informed the police officer, very loudly, that no, we would not be paying him 500 pesos! Michal went back over to the officer who said “Is your wife angry?” Michal’s response was “She’s more than angry”. The officer than said “You shouldn’t have to have an angry wife. Just go.” I have the utmost respect for law enforcement but in this case it felt shady and unethical. I realize I’m lucky my temper tantrum did not land us in a Mexican jail.
Prior to my act of defiance we had been scammed at the gas station. In Mexico Pemex is the one and only gas station. The attendants pump the gas for you. We had asked for $150 pesos worth of gas. When we paid the attendant, Michal gave him $200 pesos. The attendant then showed us a 20 and claimed we only paid him 20. Michal stated he was sure he had paid him 200 and the attendant got angry. We then gave him $200 pesos because he sounded quite convincing. Then we drove away and recounted our money. Sure enough we had been scammed. Lesson learned we never took our eyes off the attendant and paid in exact cash the other times we needed gas.
We were quite relieved when we returned the car on Saturday. Public transportation is easy, reliable and cheap here. And much less stressful. Thankfully while we had the car we didn’t have any accidents and we didn’t end up in a Mexican jail in the middle of nowhere.