Letters to the editor
We promised to tell you what happens in Mexico when you are involved in an auto accident. We were immersed in one traffic jam after another in Cancun with each driver trying to pass the other in order to gain an inch.
I guess it’s possible to take the taxi away from the man, but once a taxi driver always a taxi driver! Lou, past owner of Louie’s Casual Cabs, ran a “yellowish” light and hit a car broadside whose driver speeded out a little too early when his light changed to green. No one was hurt and the police arrived in minutes to do interviews, measuring, take pictures and make drawings.
When asked several times if we were at fault, being unaware of the consequences, we did not respond. We called our insurance company, as did the other party. A representative from each company was on hand within 20 minutes. No one involved so far spoke any English but were all very kind and helpful.
It was determined to be Lou’s fault and the agent and police said not to worry, that accidents happen! Both drivers had insurance, so the cars were covered, as well. The vehicles were towed to the police compound and the three of us were taken in a police car to the station. They locked us in a room where there was a chalkboard and several chairs.
We offered apologies to each other, but little else was said. We later found out that when a party has no insurance, a deal is worked out between both parties in this room before you are released and the process is allowed to continue. If someone is hurt, the party at fault is sent immediately to jail. Luckily we did not have to find out what transpires in this scenario.
The drivers were taken to a doctor’s office in the station, where more forms were filled out. An exam that included a breathalyzer test were done. Luckily, no alcohol was involved or else jail would have been the next step.
If we had not signed a release form, we would have been sent to Municipo Police and detained until everyone was satisfied. We were told Municipo would decide how much we owed for damage to the curb.
Lou had to return the next day to pay this fine and get a release before we could get the car into a body shop to be repaired. It was determined that the other car was totaled. We rented a car, as we had guests coming to town and needed to pick them up and tour them around.
The next day Lou drove to Cancun, 75 miles from our home in Tulum, to meet our insurance agent at the Transito Station. He told Lou they had to go to Municipo. But since Dia de los Reyes festival was starting, the offices would be closing early. No more business would take place that day. Since the two men were having a hard time communicating, it was suggested that Lou use the attorney in the police station to help him complete the process. The attorney said he would take care of the curb problem, and our insurance would pay his fee. They agreed to meet in two days.
As scheduled, Lou returned and called the lawyer. He said he would call Lou back when things were in order. Lou waited for several hours and at 5 p.m., headed home, as the attorney no longer was answering his phone. When Lou finally reached the attorney by phone the next day, he said the cost of the damage to the curb would be $60. Lou asked him to take care of the payment and they would meet on Saturday to get the car released and reimburse him for the fine.
Lou drove back the next day and the lawyer showed up 30 minutes late and told him the person who was needed to sign the release does not work on Friday, so they would have to wait till Monday. Lou finally took a Mexican with him and they got the car out of the impound with a $40 bribe and without the help of the attorney. The car custodians at the impound lot wanted money as well. We had to pay $35 for the medical exam, daily storage fees and $75 for towing the car to the repair shop we were told we were required to use.
One month later, we were told the car would be 100 percent ready at the end of the week. We were in Cancun on Monday of that week and peeked in at the repair shop, and saw that work on the vehicle had not even begun. The repairman claimed that he was waiting for parts. Two weeks later we drove the car home with assorted trim pieces missing.
We used our bicycles during this time as our sole means of local transportation and took solace in the fact that we were getting in shape and saving lots of money by not buying gas ($75 to fill our tank) .
After this experience, we recommend not to use your credit card for insurance when renting a car. Pay the extra $12 a day for the rental company insurance. If you have an accident, it would be invaluable. The insurance company and body shop’s lack of communication and quality of service made the ordeal very frustrating.
Meanwhile, back to the beach! We were still waiting on word from the Sermanat with the go-ahead to start building our B&B. This seemed a perfect time to take a bus trip on the Mariposa Trail to see the state of Chiapas, including the remarkable ruins at Palenque and the colonial city of San Cristobal de las Casas, with its Indian villages dotting the surrounding mountainsides. Stay tuned to find out where we moved to when the hotel was torn down, and what is happening with permits to build on the beach.
Moe Mulrooney and Lou Pintkowski