Our 10 day trip to Cancun this Dec had 9 days of fun in the sun, with much needed relaxation and family time. Being our fourth trip to Mexico, the latest being 9 years ago, we did notice an increase in hustling when on the streets of the cities, but all in all, what we had come to expect and know from our experiences, including ones shared by other family members.
The last day changed our minds completely, about vacationing in Mexico again… which is a shame for not only us, but also the good people we have met and interacted with from Mexico. The people there have been warm, helpful, and easy to tip because they were working hard. We've even hosted 2 students from different areas in Mexico, in our home, while they participated in our school district's International Education Program. Spending 10 months with these boys was so great and meeting some of their families was an added bonus; what an incredible experience! Warm, caring people who have a strong love for family, a laid back attitude and a hilarious sense of humor.
We rented a car and an Airbnb with no problems, other than the car was smaller than we required. I asked for an upgrade as we are very tall people, but with the high season, none were available, so I asked to be called when one arrived. I never did get that call and ended up having to rent another car as more family arrived. I added my sister in law as an additional driver on the second car and off we went, two families together for some fun in the sun!
It was the drive back to return the first car, on our way to the airport, that changed our views regarding vacationing in Mexico. We were stopped by the police, not once, but twice. We were not speeding and cars were zooming past us. They take your driver's license and tell you that you must go to the police station and pay the ticket to get it back. I asked where the police station was. No answer both times. I then knew that what they wanted. I had read about this before our trip and had warned my husband, so he told the officer we would miss our flight and put some money on the ticket book. The license was given back and we were on our way. The second time it happened; we knew the drill and just wanted to get to the airport and leave a place where there is so much corruption. It is difficult to feel safe when the enforcement steals from you and you feel targeted.
I informed my sister in law about what had happened and warned her that they would probably target her as well. They left the next day and she was stopped twice too! She drove like a granny because we had warned her. Then, outside the airport entrance, the security stopped the family of five and went through their things, taking more; their children were traumatized with the 3 negative experiences. Both families say they will never go back, but I think you have to live through those experiences to truly understand why. I'm sure their full story will be posted as well… its not mine to tell..
My husband, who has 26 years as a trained investigator and law enforcement officer, seems to have figured it all out. When you rent a car in Cancun, he believes the car rental companies are in partnership with the police. They know when you are returning the car and they look for your plate. It may sound far fetched to some, but if you observe and think about it, I agree. We drove there for the first 9 days with absolutely no problems. Then, two families have the same situation, one day apart? When you are leaving enough time to get the car back and check in for your flight, you don’t have time to go to a police station. Also, we were not speeding. We had a 3 hour delay on our flight and we started to talk to people, my husband asking questions. Those we spoke to who rented cars/bikes/jeeps, did not have problems until they were leaving.
Our advice to travelers is to stick to the nice resorts, stay inside, only do tours booked through the hotel and don't rent cars. Stash small amounts of peso and ID all around your person. If you are stopped by anyone, just give them the cash, show there is nothing more in your wallet and hopefully, carry on.