dusk near Cuernavaca

dusk near Cuernavaca

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Finding a Driver

Two years ago I spent several weeks in Mérida.  A good portion of that time I was showing the sights to friends from Ohio.  For excursions outside of the city we had a driver, Jaime, who had been recommended by the hotel where we were staying.  Jaime was a very reliable, punctual and personable fellow, and I kept his e-mail address in case I should want to contact him in the future.

On this trip my friend Frank and I are not staying at a hotel.  Instead I rented a two bedroom house.  I knew that I would want to take some excursions again, so early in December I e-mailed Jaime to see if he would be available.  I never heard back from him.  Perhaps he is no longer working as a driver...  perhaps he doesn't even live in Mérida anymore.

I tend to have everything organized well ahead of time when I travel... especially when I am playing "tour guide" to friends.  So I was a bit concerned that I had no driver lined up to take us on our day trips.  Of course I know that I could have booked guided tours to the places I wanted to take Frank.  But I generally hate guided tours.  I don't want to be herded around like cattle.  When I play "tour guide" we visit places at a leisurely pace; there is plenty of time to take pictures or to just pause to admire something.  

I wrote ahead of time to Paula, the lady who owns the house that I am renting, and asked if she knew of any reliable drivers.  She said that there was a travel agency located just a few doors down the street, and that the owner of the agency could surely serve as our driver.  I was still nervous that I didn't have any firm arrangements made.

It was all needless worry.  When we arrived at the house, not only was Paula there to greet us, but the travel agent, David, was there to introduce himself to us.  After getting settled into the house I walked over to David's office / home, and within a few minutes we had everything arranged.

David has turned out to be perfect.  We have already taken two excursions with him and will go on a third day trip with him on Monday.  On Thursday we went to the ruins of Uxmal, had lunch at an old hacienda, and visited a cenote (one of the natural sinkholes which dot the Yucatan Peninsula).  Today we went to Izamal, a picturesque town where Mayan pyramids stand next to colonial architecture.  On Monday's trip we will visit the lagoon at Celestún, where thousands of flamingos gather in the winter.

David has proven himself to be a very reliable, punctual, and safe driver, and his rate is extremely reasonable.  He also seems to be a very nice fellow; we have had some great conversations during our drives.  And what could be more convenient than to have your driver live just a few doors down the street!

  David and Frank

In the future if I should take more friends to Mérida, I will definitely call upon David!!


  1. I don't know how long you have.

    The ruin Oxkintoc, just east of Maxcanu is interesting. I was there a few years ago and found it to be a unknown jewel. A massive ruin set in a tanga desert, the uncovered part of the ruin is small and a little haphazard in its rebuilding but the city itself covers over a thousand acres. The ruin was occupied before Christ was born and was in use up until the conquest. It is only an hour out of Merida. down the 180, it is off the road from Maxcanu to Muna. There is a cave and swimming place in the area, no where to eat or get a drink . I did not partake of the cave or the swimming last time I was there, we were on a run out to Isla Arena from Ticul and hit the ruin on the way.

    Xcambo up on the coast highway is one of my favorites , it was a salt trading center, the salt pans are still in use. The dock is still evident where the sea going canoes docked. It is silted in but one can still see the dock. It is a small site. The local people have a chapel there that they use, it has a stela as an alter.

    1. I visited both Xcambo and Oxkintoc some years ago. Getting to Oxkintok was a bit of an adventure, but it was quite neat since we had the site all to ourselves (other than the caretaker).

  2. Bill, you're my opposite when it comes to travel. I'm leaving for DF on Tuesday on a one-way ticket, and I haven't so much as booked a hotel, much less figured out exactly what I'm going to do or where I'm going to do it, haha.

    And I agree with you 100% about guided tours. F and I did such a tour in Oaxaca, where Monte Albán was one of the three stops. Needless to say, we only had an hour at the ruins, and so we ran, snapping photos along the way. Never again!


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where the indecision is mounting by the day.

    1. I do like to have my accommodations reserved ahead of time, and when I am playing tour guide I am especially paranoid about having everything lined up. Once I am settled into a place, however, I am flexible about what I am going to do. For example, for the 3 weeks that I am in D.F. I have no idea what I am going to do (other than meeting up with you, of course!)
      ¡Hasta pronto!