February 1, 2015

Tulum: Day 1


I finally made it! Today has been super long. From plane changes and bus transfers, to going hours without access to cash (I’ll elaborate more on that later).  But I’m here. In the midst of all the confusion, a moonlit ocean view dinner was totally worth it all.

You know that little voice in your head that tells you to do things just in case? Well this is the one time I’m glad I listened. A little voice told me to pull out a small sum of cash while state side, just in case. I didn’t want to pull all my cash out stateside out of fear that I wouldn’t get the better rate. But there’s a first time for everything and life is full of lessons to be learned! Had I not gotten that $60 out before hand, I would have been up Shit Creek.

So I make it passed customs and notice the nearest ATM. I figure I’ll just pull pesos out there (A word of caution, there are 2 types of ATMS. One that dispenses US dollars and one that dispenses Mexican pesos). I went for the Mexican pesos, and what do you know? Declined. I tried about 2 more times, same outcome. So I gave the US dollar ATM a swing. You guessed it! Declined. By now I’m in a stage 3 panic. Keep cool. A passer by tells me that the ADO bus line will take US dollars for bus fare. Wrong. So I had to reason with a taxi driver to exchange $20 for 200 pesos ( My bus ticket was 156 pesos, one way to Playa Del Carmen). Since I had already walked out of the airport, I couldn’t re-enter. Nice, Latricia.

I manage to pay for the bus with the 200 pesos, then head to catch my connection in Playa. I figure I’ll try this whole ATM thing again when I get there. Two more tries yielded yet another declined card. Pretty much at a stage 5 panic. Luckily I was able to find a currency exchange station to exchange the $40 I had gotten state side, which bought my bus transfer to Tulum. At this point I’m exhausted, irritable, frustrated and hungry. I’m thinking, “what if I can’t get any cash out? I’m totally screwed!”.

We finally pull into the bus terminal in Tulum. At this point I figure I’ll just wing it. Then I glanced at yet another ATM. And that little voice said “try again”. So I did. THANK GOD I did! I was finally able to pull out cash. The crazy thing is, this ATM displayed the same affiliate logos as all the others that declined me. Honestly, I didn’t even care what fees they charged as long as I could get my money.  Lesson learned: always pull out small sums of money before leaving stateside to cover transportation costs. Or pull out the full amount you want, exchange what you think you’ll need for transport at the airport, then shop around for a better rate for the remainder. The airport’s rate was 12 whereas PDC was around 14.

As I sit and type, full from dinner and exhausted, I can’t help but think how I may have needed to be shaken up a bit, kept on my toes. Somewhere in the universe I swear I could hear God giggling to himself.

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