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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2004


    I think the biggest surprise for me is that any of you are surprised.

    This stuff has been going on "forever" and in that corrupt a country, it can't get better.
    Heck, 40 years ago we all knew to bribe the border guides to get our car pass and you never left your car parked without paying someone to watch it for you.
    And if you went downtown at night you better speak Spanish and be smart: or get ready to be mugged.

    Richard Hardison

  2. #22


    I prefer to go to countries where the police are actually helpful in hopes of earning a tip!

    In Cairo years ago when I was in the Air Force, some friends and I were walking around the pyramids trying to see inside the various tombs that had locked doors. A police officer walked up and asked what we were doing and after telling him we were just trying to see through the cracks, he whips out his keys, opens the door and turns on the lights. Once inside, he says "no flash photography or touching" and let's us roam around looking at all the carvings and 4000 year old paintings still on the wall. We walk out, he locks it up and motions us to follow him to 3-4 other tombs with locked doors. That was better than any museum or the pyramids (which the locals use as a restroom). Everyone ponied up $5 each and he went to find some more curious tourist. For $20 they would turn their back while you climbed up the pyramids at night, which is a lot harder than you'd think.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Central Florida

    Talking No Walll ?

    Hey Gringo ...... que dat en su asiento de atr?s? Tu esposa o novia Cu?nto dinero tiene usted ? ?Te gusta volver a ver a tu esposa o novia? Nos llevamos su dinero y sus tanques de buceo y su buen coche! Usted puede guardar sus pantalones! Adios reto !

  4. #24


    I teach out of shop in Tucson, AZ and we frequently travel to dive destinations in Sonora. For the past year or so, divers have been turned away at the U.S./Mexico border for transporting tanks. While that isn't too much of a problem for recreational diving, as rental tanks are readily available, it has curtailed our technical diving because unlike Quintana Roo, finding rental doubles (and gas other than recreational nitrox blends) in Sonora is impossible.

    The reason? It is hard to get a straight and consistent answer. Despite the sporting equipment clause on the tourist permits, tanks aren't being viewed as sports equipment. In the States where tank transport is governed by the DOT, in Mexico it is apparently governed by the Department of Mining. Thus, if you have tanks, you are working...not recreating. Additionally, as Kafkaland notes, tanks aren't allowed to be transported by non-commercial vehicles not approved for this purpose. We have tried to get clarification from the Mexican Consulate in Tucson, but without success. So, all this being said, the Federal Police officer might have been correct, although certainly the way he handled the situation wasn't. I expect that this isn't going to amount to much in Quintana Roo given how integral diving is to the local economy and tanks are being transported all over the place in "illegal" vehicles by tourists and dive operators. However, up north in Sonora where mining is a major industry, it has had an impact on the hundreds of U.S. divers who go to Mexico every weekend to dive.

  5. #25


    I live in Tucson when I'm not on the road. The bullsh*t at Lake Pleasant or heading to California is much easier than trying to hit up Puerto Penasco or San Carlos. I don't even know why Tucson shops even bother. The drive isn't any faster, and there's a bunch of cr*p to deal with crossing the border. Drive to Cali, do the dives you want to do, and leave the Federales to shaking down frat boys trying to get laid...

  6. #26


    Lived in Tucson for a year or so and drove to Puerto Penasco once (not great diving), and San Carlos 3 times (lots of fun diving with the seals and sea lions), and never had any problems (did not bring tanks, but all my other gear). Long waits at the border, but otherwise smooth sailing. Been on two dive trips to the Yucatan, out of Cancun once (salt) and Tulum once (caves). Both times I chose not to rent a car, but to rely on shuttles and dive shop guides driving, to avoid the hassles of car rental and roadside shakedowns by cops of various flavors. What I was told is that the police get paid very poorly, and this unofficial 'tourist tax' is how they make ends meet. They look for signs that the car is driven by a tourist, then stop them and do a shakedown. I suspect the tanks were just a sign that the car was being driven by a tourist with money to be had. There was a German couple staying at the hotel I was staying at in Tulum. They'd been pulled over for speeding (which they claimed not to be doing), refused or didn't understand the offer to pay the on-the-spot 'fine', and had their passports taken. This was on a Friday, they were supposed to fly out that weekend, and the station where they were supposed to go to retrieve their passports wasn't supposed to be open again until Monday. Don't know what they did; I was flying out that weekend. I was told not to surrender my passport to the police, and to carry a 'bribe' wallet. Next trip I am planning to rent a car (with some other divers) do dive the caves without a guide, and will just budget in a few hundred bucks for the 'tourist tax'. If I've got the money to go diving in Tulum, I've got a bit extra to cover this expense.

    “It was more than breathtaking, it was like having stumbled upon some alien cathedral on some other planet, which some otherworld race with their incomprehensible architecture and alien sculpture had ages past built, decorated, and dedicated to their unknowable God.”
    James Jones. His Capitol M Manhood. In Down Time: Great Writers on Diving, 2nd ed.

  7. #27


    Quote Originally Posted by PsychDiver View Post
    Lived in Tucson for a year or so and drove to Puerto Penasco once (not great diving), .
    LOL, I went to school at NAU in Flagstaff and visited Rocky Point many times! We never had any issues driving down there apart from trying to leave JJ's Cantina before closing time...

    Safe diving,


    Education, enjoyment and exploration.....

  8. #28


    In about 20 trips to Tulum, I've gotten the cop shakedown twice for traffic violations. Once it cost me $20, the other time $100 (I was stupid enough to have that much in my wallet, even though I knew better). If you want to call their bluff, and insist on going to the station, you could probably get out of it for free, but both times I was in a hurry and figured to pay was just the faster way. Even though much smaller amounts are involved, the gas station attendants are the ones you really have to watch out for. They will rip you off every chance you get. Here a little Spanish helps, because if you speak none they will use that against you, as in you told them the wrong amount, or gave them the wrong denomination bill, etc. Make sure you stop your car where you can see the pump read out clearly, and watch what they are doing the whole time, and don't be distracted by one of their colleagues trying to offer you a window wash, etc. Overall a minor inconvenience for some incredibe diving and an overall great vacation experience. Not that is any excuse at all, but keep in mind losing $20 for us is an inconvenience, while for people like the gas station attendants it might mean their family eats dinner that night or not.


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