Back in 2002 I took a cruise with my mom and my sister on Carnival and one of the stops was in Cozumel, Mexico. I insisted on going to the Mayan Ruins at Tulum with my sister and I experienced my first bit of tourist scamming. I should mention that at the time I collected key chains from the places I went.
The excursion starts with a boat ride to Playa Del Carmen. It was about 30 minutes and the boat moved very fast and bumped on every single wave as it crossed the channel separating Cozumel and Playa Del Carmen. It was not a good crossing for those who get sea sick, I saw a couple white bags around the boat. Then we took an hour long bus ride through Mexico. While I certainly wouldn’t describe the area as ghetto, it certainly didn’t feature nice homes of the locals. More like small wooden houses a step above shacks. We had one stop about halfway there at a souvenir shop offering cheesy Mexico souvenirs.
Once we arrived at Tulum we were offered the choice of taking the tram (for a charge) or walking the mile or so to the ruins. Since it was, as an old friend used to say, “Africa Hot,” we took the tram.
After we finished looking at the ruins we went to market/souvenir area to look around. I was looking at the key chains when I was approached by one of the workers. Apparently, the key chain was real silver and cost $80. The guy tried to get me to buy this key chain. When I practically laughed at $80 he asked how much I was willing to pay, it was real silver after all. I offered $8. I might have had a key chain collection at the time, but I doubt any of them cost more then $10. The conversation didn’t last long, but it was a nice try by the guy.
After that we went to buy some snacks, this was a fairly long day with no lunch break. My sister and I decided on a small bag of Doritos and a bottle of Gatorade each. But we were in Mexico so the Doritos flavors were written in Spanish. We opted for the bags that looked like Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch flavor and in total paid about $7 for the Gatorade and Doritos, a bit of a rip off for the time. When we got on the bus back to the ship we opened up our Doritos and quickly found out that not all Doritos are created equal. The orange bag of Doritos was not Nacho Cheese and the blue bag was not Cool Ranch. I believe one ended up being a jalapeno pepper flavor and was not very good. I don’t remember the other flavor, but it also was not very good.
I would have chalked it all up as a funny tourist mistake – except I was hungry at the time! But it was a good lesson that when you travel things are not always what that seems – sometimes it works out and other times it does not. And of course watch out for people trying to sell you overpriced crap. At least the $80 offer was so insane that I couldn’t take it remotely seriously.