As with every relationship, there are the aspects you love and adore. And then, there are the aspects you wish would go the way of the dodo bird.! In other words, you hope they become extinct and disappear. So, it should come as no surprise that my relationship with Mexico, in general, and Playa del Carmen, specifically, has the same attributes.
On Monday, I waxed eloquently, or at least waxed, about all of my favorite components about living in Mexico. Today, I am going to touch upon those less desirable parts of my life as an expat. They are in no particular order –
1) Clowns on buses.! Now as you all know form my post about clowns. I don’t like clowns at all, but especially when they are on buses asking you for money.! I do not miss those clowns at all..!!
2) Lines at the bank and the ATMs – Mexico still resides somewhere between a first world country and a third world country. Most people in Mexico get paid by having their wages deposited into a bank account. The bank account is usually provided by your employer or it can be set up by yourself. It is called a nomina account. Unfortunately, this means long lines at all the ATMs on the 15th and last day of the month as this is when almost everyone gets paid..!! And since most transactions are still in cash, people get in line to take out all or most of the money they will need for the next 2 weeks. Also, if someone pays you with a check, it’s almost a death sentence because you can’t deposit it into your account. You need to go to the bank in person to cash the check! So don’t miss that.!
3) Working 6 days a week.!! In most tourist areas in Mexico, employees are required to work 7-10 hour days, six days a week.! Of course, this doesn’t include doctors, lawyers or those who are not directly in the tourist industry, but still that does include a lot of people.! I don’t know about you, but back in the states, we complain about working 5 days a week with only the weekend off (or 2 days during the week). But in Mexico, there are slews of workers who only get one day off to run their errands which might include waiting in the pinche bank line to cash a check or spend a day with family and friends at the beach. I definitely don’t miss that.!
4) Low wages.! Many workers in Mexico get paid very small wages. Waiters, cabdrivers, hotel workers make anywhere from $100 to $800 dollars a month. Even police officers in Mexico make about $700 a month or $8,000 annually. That is why many in the tourist industry rely so heavily on tips. Of course, career positions such as lawyers and doctors do make a little more money, but not much more because then how would the average worker afford those services? Anyhoo, don’t miss this either.
5) Visa issues – Of course all foreign workers in Mexico need a visa to work. That is not the issue. Even really the amount of time it takes to get a worker visa, known as a FM3 or FM2, is not the issue. The issue is the cost associated with the visa which is anywhere from $300 to $700 depending on what you need. And the draconian rules that require foreigners to update their work visa anytime they change venues and/or positions. So if you are a concierge at one hotel and then transfer to another hotel to be a hotel maid – you have to pay to change the hotel and the position.! Therefore, changing jobs becomes even more difficult because what average worker has $600 just laying around to keep changing jobs.! Don’t miss that either.!
6) Water.!! I have to say I am enjoying turning on the faucet in Chicago and cleaning my vegetables underneath it and drinking from the faucet 🙂 No more purchasing huge bottles (or small bottles) for drinking. No more purchasing aqua mira (or other iodine based water purification) in order to clean my vegetables. Yay.!! Another don’t miss.
7) Telcel.! But really IUSAcell, Nextel, Movistar, etc. How nice to have a phone plan.!! No more adding money for minutes which seem to run out the moment I call someone.! No more wondering when my minutes will run out. Now, there are phone plans in Mexcio, don’t get me wrong. But they are harder for foreigners to get and the ones that Mexicans have also have pre-determined minutes that run out before their due date. Unlimited minutes and text messages – love it..!! So yeah don’t miss running out of minutes.!
8) Mosquitos.! I have never had a problem with mosquitos in Chicago. They usually bit everyone else I knew. But being surrounded by (or sometimes in) a jungle most of the time, I did not get the same luxury treatment in Playa. I was a bonafide all you can eat buffet for those pesky mosquitos. And of course, snakes and scorpions, but mosquitos were more prevalent. For sure don’t miss that.!