WHAT ABOUT MONEY?
We have read articles in the Travel sections of our newspapers in the U.S. saying that money is available from cash machines anywhere in the world, so there isn’t any need to bring money or Traveler’s Checks when we travel. Maybe everywhere else in the world, but not in the Yucatan. There are cash machines in major cities such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Merida and Valladolid, and it is true that the best exchange rate is at the cash machines. But driving south from Cancun, you won’t find any cash machines or banks south of Tulum where there is one relatively new bank and a cash machine that works...sometimes. Best bet is to use the machines in Playa del Carmen. There are Casas de Cambio in Tulum, where you can exchange money. You will get a better exchange rate for cash than for Traveler’s Checks there and everywhere else.
CAN I USE A CREDIT CARD?
You probably won’t find many places south of Tulum where you can use a credit card, however, lately many of the small resorts have begun to use Paypal, an internet based way of using your credit card. You can set up an account at www.paypal.com before you go.
WHAT SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT DRIVING TO XCALAK?
The directions to get to Xcalak are in the "Getting Here" section. The most important thing for visitors to know is, DO NOT DRIVE AFTER DARK! Very few roads have lights. Many cars won’t have lights on, either. And there even may be livestock grazing on the roads after dark. Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism provides a service called the Green Angels. These are bilingual mechanics driving green trucks who patrol the major highways every day. They provide emergency assistance, and charge only for parts and gasoline. But it can seem like a long wait until daylight, which is the next time you can start looking for a Green Angel if your car breaks down at night. There are more gas stations in the Yucatan than there used to be, but they’re still few and far between. If you’re driving south on Highway 307, fill up in Felipe Carillo Puerto. It’s the last gas station before you get to Xcalak (where there isn’t a gas station, either, although it is possible to buy a few liters. They are building a new gas station in Mahajual but it has not yet opened
WHERE CAN I EAT IN XCALAK?
Depending on how many visitors there are in Xcalak at the time, anywhere from one to several local small restaurants may be open. Possibilities include Silvia’s Loncheria, Luz Marie’s Brisas del Mar, Las Conchitas, Xcalak Caribe, and Capitan Caribe. They prepare whatever they’re able to obtain fresh that day. A couple of the hotels in Xcalak such as Tierra Maya and Playa Sonrisa have restaurants where they are glad to accommodate guests from other places if you make a reservation.
WHAT’S IN THE KITCHEN?
The REEF HOUSE has a kitchen with a sink, stove, and refrigerator. There is service for four to eight of drinking glasses, dishes, and utensils. Basic cookware is provided, along with utensils for food preparation and serving. There is a coffee maker.
WHERE CAN I SHOP?
You can buy just about anything at the Costco, Sam’s Club, or Wal-Mart in Cancun. To get to any of them, drive north out of the airport, toward Cancun city. Turn left at the Pemex station. The Costco is on the right. Go right at the second light to get to Sam’s Club and the Wal-Mart. They’re in the same shopping center. If you plan to buy things that need to be kept cold while you’re driving, you might want to bring a cooler with you (check it through as luggage) or buy a disposable cooler in Cancun. If you’re in Playa del Carmen or Chetumal, you can shop at the San Francisco supermarket. There is a new large supermarket called "Chedraui" in Playa del Carmen located on the main highway 307. Go past the main entrance to Playa. You will see it on the left. Continue south and stay in the left lane and you will see a turnaround that will take you right back to Chedraui. We always enjoy shopping for produce at the public market in Carillo Puerto (you’re stopping for gas there, anyway). The prices are probably the most reasonable you’ll find. There’s a small supermarket on the right as you head out of Carillo Puerto. If you forget anything you can always stock up on beverages, snacks, and assorted food staples at this small town.
WHAT SHOULD I BRING?
Bring a hat, sunscreen, and insect repellant. In case you’re caught without your bug spray, you might want to have some anti-itch cream with you. If there’s a condiment or food item you just can’t live without, you better bring it. Bring a camera and film. The disposable underwater cameras take nice pictures, and eliminate the worry about getting a good camera wet while you’re on a boat or at the water, even if you’re not underwater.
JUST HOW BAD ARE THE BUGS?
It depends on the weather, and how the wind is blowing. If the wind is coming from the jungle, the bugs will come too. If the breeze is coming from the sea, it will blow the bugs right into the jungle and they won’t bother you at all. Some people take B complex tablets for a week before and during their trip to make themselves less tasteful to any bugs that may be around
WHAT SHOULDN’T I BRING?
Our solar powered electrical system is more than adequate to provide lights and keep the refrigerators running 24 hours a day. But appliances whose purpose is to produce heat use large amounts of energy. Specifically, hair dryers, curling irons, electric rollers, clothes irons, electric coffeepots, and toasters are the biggest users of energy. If you insist on styling your hair with an electric appliance, we won’t have lights to see how it looks when you finish. (And the cold drinks in our refrigerators will become warm drinks.) You might consider that worth the trade-off, but the other guests probably won’t! So try letting your hair dry naturally. We promise you will look just as good as everyone else.
I STILL HAVE QUESTIONS…
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