Welcome to Mexico! (or… not so much)
We touched down in Mexico at 5:30pm on Saturday, reasonably (or so we thought) expecting to be at our hotel within the hour, since it’s only a short 15 minute drive away. Three and a half hours later we were still at the airport.
Let’s start with this: Cancun in high-season is a mad house. Crazy packed. Tons and tons of tourists everywhere you look. Like Vegas on the beach.
Getting off the plane was an hour-long challenge, and once we were finally off the plane, trying to get out of the airport felt like trying to get into Walmart… on Black Friday. Mobs of confused and hurried tourists trying to reach the mega-busses that aimed to take them to The Strip: ie. the narrow slip of land that houses about 80 Vegas-style mega-hotels. This is the first time in my life (aside from Disney World and Vegas) that I’ve gotten to experience this sort of hotel and scene.
Our hotel, The Paradisus Resort, which Mike’s extremely generous friend Parker set up for us as a wedding gift, has over 800 rooms in 5 giant pyramid-like structures with a jungle in the middle and about ten restuarants in the resort itself… but we wouldn’t make it there for another couple of hours, at least.
We made it through customs within 45 minutes, despite the 500-person line, and onto the Hertz bus. Once at Hertz, we were shocked to see a crowd of about 80 people in line for one (yes, o-n-e) teller/rep. The line was at least two or three hours long to pick up your car, and on top of that, the lot looked pretty empty. Not a well managed Hertz location, to say the least.
Luckily, Mike has “gold member” status, which is supposed to make it so you skip the lines. I asked three Hertz reps before I was told that there’s a very discreet door for gold members around the backside of another building. We found the unmarked door and were relieved to see only two couples in line ahead of us. During the almost hour and a half we spent waiting and then trying to get our rental car, we were told that Hertz had run out of all of the regular cars. This guy was giving us three options, if we wanted to drive away with a car today, like we already paid for and booked. In order, they were:
1. “If you want to drive away in something, you can pay the $200 US per day more to upgrade to a Jeep.”
2. “You can wait and hope that someone brings a mid-size car back, but no guarantees and no idea if anyone will” (…or if any of the other 50 couples waiting for a car will take it.)
3. “You can take a bus to your hotel and go to another Hertz location tomorrow to see if they can get you a car.” (Keep in mind we pre-paid online for the whole week, starting now.)
Now, I’m not a big fan of being pushed around or having money extorted from me, so I told him I wanted to talk to the manager, and that I was going to complain to Hertz Corporate if they didn’t give us a car right away. Guess what? We ended up getting the next class up: a BMW! Usually we’d be pumped to get the upgrade, but we deliberately rented a small car because we heard a lot of stories about corrupt Cancun police targeting people driving nice rental cars to pull over and extort money from (and the police chiefs either being murdered or murdering), so the BMW is a bitter-sweet thing so far. Plus, the Hertz rep tried to stick us with paying for past damage by urging us to sign the form saying there was no damage when the car had serious dents and scrapes on both sides of both bumpers.
So now, three and a half hours later, we were finally on our way to the hotel…