For years, we have wanted to go to Belize.
Belize is located directly South of Mexico, below the Mayan Riviera on the Yucatan Peninsula. It was cheaper to fly into Cancun and drive down the Mayan Riviera coast, scattered with delectable turquoise beaches, and then drive on into Belize.
Something always goes wrong on most trips. Seldom are they disasters, but still they are disappointing at the time. We expect to have little problems, so we never get too wound up about them.
We flew into Cancun, and took a taxi to the Solymar Beach Resort that we had booked online. I should have known something was up when I had to press her for the correct website for seeing the photos (she kept giving me one that didn’t work, and I see now that the site no longer exists), and for the exact information on the view, which was a lagoon view, not an ocean view. She would not confirm that the photos were of the same unit we were renting, until I asked her pointedly twice! She kept changing the information she sent, then apologized and offered a bottle of champagne upon arrival, which of course we never saw. She was super nice by email and just kept insisting that we had the beautiful penthouse with high ceilings and a rooftop lounge.
We wouldn’t call this a penthouse, would you? It was just a cramped dusty little suite with low ceilings and a dirty stairway up to an old roof top with views of the lagoon.
Finding the owner once we got there wasn’t the easiest, and she made us wait quite a long time. The little suite was located in the oddest place through a maze of floors and hallways to a narrow closet door and up a narrow set of stairs in an apartment style high rise. Very strange set-up. It looked like it had been sectioned off from a larger unit. The room was small and shabby. Later we overheard the owner and a colleague swearing profusely about other guests, and making fun of them. We were only there one night so we shrugged it off. Still, it gives one a sour taste for the place. We would not recommend Solymar Beach Resort.
The only saving grace was the view from our balcony over the ocean, which was staggeringly blue, but the balcony was so narrow that the chairs only fit sideways so you could not face the ocean. Too funny.
Last time we landed in Cancun, we had a wonderful big clean full suite facing the ocean at the Royal Islander Resort (private time share rental on Craig’s List), Hotel Zone, Unit 4353, for less at $71 a night. It couldn’t have been much nicer, with great ocean views.
We are usually lucky with accommodation, but seem to have a particular penchant for getting screwed with rental cars. Sound familiar? Almost everyone we talk to has had similar problems. You’re welcome to share your own experiences below.
The rental car company was to pick us up at noon the next day. As usual, Mexican time meant they were late; we were used to that. He arrived after 3 p.m. with a manual transmission car when we had repeatedly stressed that we required an automatic transmission. We must have confirmed “automatic transmission” at least five times in the email negotiations and confirmations.
He was a super nice Mexican man, but said he didn’t have an automatic available. We just kept repeating that we could not drive a manual, which was the truth. There is nothing that will get you into an accident faster in a strange country than trying to remember how to drive a manual while negotiating new roads with Spanish signs, crazy drivers, and busy cities when you are used to an automatic.
He said maybe tomorrow. We explained that wouldn’t work because we had a hotel booked in Tulum for that night.
Finally, the rental man started making calls. He offered us an automatic jeep with some problems (oil leaks, steering) to drive to Tulum, a few hours down the highway, and they would deliver the automatic car to us in Tulum, the next morning. We accepted, wondering if we would ever see the car. True to his word, and somewhat of a surprise to us, they were at our hotel in Tulum first thing in the morning. The car was a little car, dirty inside with bolts missing from all of the wheels. Later a taxi driver in Belize would tell us you only need two bolts on a tire.
One thing we always do is take pictures of the car, inside and out, looking for mileage, dents, scratches that we did not incur and were there previously. We check all fluid levels, wipers, lights, signals, tires, spare tire and change tools, see if the A/C works, make sure they write down all scratches even on bumpers, make sure there are two licence plates or write down paper licence for the back window, ask about 24 hour breakdown/accident assistance phone number, in this case, including Belize. We often use a credit card that covers liability insurance or all insurance. Insurance pretty much doubles the cost of a rental car.
This time there were no extra costs when we returned the car. Many other times we have rented cars, they tried to say there were dents or tire damages or just charged us way more than we were quoted, claiming we would get the deposit credited back to our card later. It never happened. We have had things like this happen numerous times, and T is still steaming about one of them.
We can laugh about all these things after the fact, except maybe for the rental cars. Not sure what we can do about it though because we love the freedom of driving when and where we want to go. Maybe they will invent an inflatable car?
We know, we know – it’s not even April 1st. Sorry.
Check this out then.