The day after we arrived at Isla Mujeres (Island of Women), a tiny island off the coast of Mexico near Cancun, we were all set to enjoy a lovely afternoon at the gorgeous North Beach, when the rain started. A downpour filled the streets to overflowing within a short time, climbing over the sidewalk opposite our hotel. So much for our first beach day.
The next day we started looking for a golf cart to rent and were barraged with salesman trying to convince us that they had the best carts for the best prices and beckoning us to go with them. Finally we agreed to go with one fellow from El Sol, out of about 20 different golf cart rental companies on the island. Carts were in huge demand and later we saw that people were lining up to get one. It was quite expensive, about 50 CAD per day.
He had his golf cart around the corner to drive us to the shop. As my friend, G, was getting onto the back of the cart, pulling herself up with the side pole, her slippery hand slid down the pole making her lose her balance as she lifted herself up. She did what looked like a perfect pole dance, making a sexy spiral around the pole, skirt flying around her… until she lost her grip and fell to the ground, skirt around her waist! Adolfo and I ran around to the back and helped her get up off the ground. Though a bit battered and bruised, and a little embarrassed, she was ok. Later we had big laughs about her unique “Pole Dance”.
We had no mechanical problems with it at all, with the exception of the cart’s turtle pace. In Isla Mujeres, it is now a challenge to drive a golf cart. With hundreds of them zipping around the few streets, often loaded with drunks or young men showing off, you are putting your life at risk to drive around in a golf cart. Then there are the taxis and motorbikes that weave by with inches to spare. We were gasping most of the time the first 2 days. Add to that the inexperienced drivers like us and well, there were a few close calls. One cart with 4 young men on it, whooping and hollering, came around a corner toward us on 2 wheels! They balanced there for a second, almost rolling completely over, before banging back down on four wheels. How they hooted and cheered with laughter!
Then we barely got settled into a routine on Isla when G came screaming back to the hotel,
“Someone stole our golf cart! Someone stole our golf cart!”
I had just come out of our room and into the lobby as she came up the stairs looking frazzled and shocked. I figured she was either joking or exaggerating or she forgot where we parked it, or at least that was what I was hoping.
She had gone out for a morning walk while I was in the shower. We always parked on the street right near the hotel so she casually glanced over to check on the cart. When it wasn’t where she remembered parking it, she thought the same as I did, that she probably forgot exactly where she parked. So she began walking up the street to locate it. Then she walked back down the street. Then she looked across the street, even though she was sure she did not park it across the street.
Finally she began looking down the side streets. Nothing. Number 25 golf cart had disappeared! She had the key in her purse. Visions of being charged for the replacement of the cart were flashing through her mind – El Sol Golf Cart Rental demanding payment!
She continued around the block and around the next block, then around the blocks on either side. An hour passed and she simply could not find it. Finally, she marched into the El Sol Golf Cart Rental shop where we had rented the cart a few days before, and told them someone stole our cart. They seemed shocked and surprised, but didn’t offer any other assistance. Finally, annoyed and adamant, she told them that they could get on a cart and look for it. They had a means of transportation and she did not. They did exactly that, while she continued walking and looking in the neighborhood.
Another hour passed and the men from the golf cart rental found her and said they had located the cart. They found it mid-island, about 4 kilometres away. Imagine! We were totally shocked but pleased that they found it, and no one had an explanation.
“How did they steal it without the key?”, she asked.
“Oh, all the golf carts have the same key.” They said this as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
“WHAT? Really? Really???”
The men then proceeded to interrogate G by asking her if she had locked the cart.
“What? No one told us anything about locking the cart when we rented it. Why didn’t someone tell us that, and how do you lock it?”
They explained how to put a cable around the steering wheel and onto the side bar and lock the padlock. WITH. THE. SAME. KEY. AS. THE. IGNITION!
What sense did that make? If they can unlock the padlock, with the ignition key, there is not much point in having a padlock.
We were still shaking our heads over that a week later, but happy to have our little golf cart back. Only in Mexico…
Poor G. She became very efficient at driving the golf cart (eventually), but prior to that, she was having a little trouble. It seemed to be one thing after another.
As usual, one evening, we parked in front of our hotel, squeezing in behind another cart and in front of a motorcycle. We were too close to the cart in front of us, so G put it in Reverse, and backed up toward the motorcycle. Stepping on the gas, she zipped back a few feet, but instead of hitting the brake, she hit the gas! Crash! We backed over the motorcycle!!! Getting out to survey the damage, it really wasn’t that bad. She picked up the old bike, which was a typical Mexican motorcycle, rusted and old, with tape all over it holding it together. A man came rushing over, shouting,
“You have to pay for this! It will cost a lot to repair! Give us $500 pesos. No use calling the Policia, that will be a lot of paperwork and time. You don’t want to do that. Just give us the money to pay the mechanic.”
Gayle shouted right back,
” It’s not even damaged. It barely tipped over.”
The man wiggled the front fender announcing that it was broken, but it looked more like the tape had just fallen loose. I almost started laughing. Then another older man hobbled over with one bad leg. He didn’t speak English, but apparently it was his bike, and he waited patiently for his friend to interpret. Then we really did feel bad. G and the friend continued to argue. He kept threatening to call the police, pretending to dial on his cell phone. We took no notice.
“Ok, so take it to the Mechanic and bring us the bill.” I said, several times. He purposefully ignored me, concentrating on arguing with G to get the money. When he realized we were right in front of the hotel we were staying at he relaxed a bit. G finally told him she was not paying that much and that she would talk to him later, and we turned and marched into the hotel. She talked to a long-time resident at the hotel who advised her to pay the man. The next morning she negotiated an amount of $400 pesos ($30 CAD), and we realized that we were lucky to get off the hook that easily.
From then on, G refused to back up the golf cart! We had to PUSH the golf cart back into the space between vehicles. Too funny. Here the cranky shop owner put a plastic chair in front of his store so only customers could park there.
Poor G. It was one mishap after another, mostly with her, and of course now we laugh about it.
The final mishap came after we had spent the day at the beach, but this time it was my turn to do something awkward. G said she was stopping at the bathroom, and I went ahead to wait in the golf cart. I waited. And waited. And waited. I was beginning to wonder if she was ok, but decided to read my book. Suddenly, I heard her voice.
“There you are! I’ve been looking all over for you. Um, want to come in OUR cart?”
“What?!” I looked around, confused,
“This is our cart – number 25…” I mumbled hesitantly. Oh-oh, it looked a little different. G pointed out that the number was indeed 25, but the company name on the front was different than ours. Shocked and embarrassed, I quickly got out.
Laughing again, we know that it’s the little adventures and misadventures like this that make a trip memorable.