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Oh... you will see a lot of police walking around with machine guns... it's quite normal and there's nothing going on... they're really very nice people, but they seem to like to carry machine guns. Just don't let it scare you... coming from london you're probably used to City of London police swanning around with armoury, but I know my mum was a bit uneasy at first... it's just the way they are over here.
Overall everyone is pleasant and relaxed, it's a lovely part of the world to visit, I hope you have a great time.
Any questions, feel free to drop me a mail.
and finally! the symbol for peso is $ so if you see something for $20 it's 20 pesos, not 20 dollars. To try make a distinction, dollars are often written like 20 US$ - not always mind, so if it's too cheap to be true, ask them if it's dollars or pesos.
My mum just came over and saw a nice pair of earrings over in Cozumel... she asked how much and she said 15 and pointed to the sign which said $15. now $15 pesos is about 75p... seems cheap, but not uncommon, so I went and asked... they turned out to be 15 dollars! Just be aware.
That's about it really.
Taxi's are pretty cheap, but they drive like loons. Always get a price BEFORE getting in a cab, after you've got in and are on the move, it's too late to be bartering a price.
If you're not sure about what you should be paying for taxi journeys, ask someone... the waiter, or another guest. It's always good to know how much you should be paying!
There are cash machines everywhere. Most charge to take you cash out on top of the UK banks fee. It's only about 5-10 pesos... about 50p... but still a rip off.
We've got about 20 pesos to the pound at the mo, so makes it simple. Just divide the pesos in half and remove a decimal point. So.... 200 = (200/2 = 100. remove dec place = £10.0) Tenner.
Some cash machines only dispense dollars... they will say clearly on the side DOLLARS. They're a pain in the ass because then you have to get it put into pesos, so you'll lose a bit on each exchange. There's not many of them, but just be aware that they exist.
Electricity is 110volts... so anything you bring with you, make sure it is not restricted to 220. It will say 110-220volts or something similar.
The sockets are two pin flat blades. Some outlets have a third hole for the earth, must don't. If you bring an adapter that goes UK three pin into flat two pin, you'll be fine.
They sell them in boots or at the airport.
Everyone you come across will speak English. Very few people can't speak english.... of those, it's probably just the little market stall sellers or people who don't work in the tourist areas, like engineers, or cleaners. If you can say a few things in spanish, it'll make your trip more enjoyable, but it's not necessary.
I've just moved here (Playa Del Carmen) from London, if you have any questions, I'll be happy to help... you can mail me directly on email@example.com.
My website is Travel stories on Latin America.
But to answer your questions, I've written something to my dad and fiance's parents who are coming in March:
It may rain, but if it does, is gonna be a brief encounter... it'll get hot and humid, then the heavens will open. It poured down last night, but it's nice and hot any sunny today. The rains not such a bad thing, it can get very hot, so it's nice to clear the air!
There will be mosquitos. Bring repellant. The best I've found is in an orange tin and is called "Off". It doesn't smell too bad either.