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YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Cozumel, Mexico

Climate:

  • July temperatures can be humid and hot (although there have been a number of times where surprisingly Toronto has been hotter than Cozumel in July).

  • Average temperature range: 27˚C/81˚F – 31˚C/88˚F.

  • July is rainy season so expect high humidity and chance of rain any day, although, weeks can pass without a drop of rain too. Typically if it does rain it often passes quickly.

Time Zone:

  • As of Feb. 1, 2015 the time is now EST (where for many years it was CST).

Important Papers:

  • When you enter the country you’ll fill out an immigration form.

  • This will be stamped on entry and the square little document portion that will be ripped off the bottom and returned to you is your visa.

  • It is very important to put this somewhere safe.

  • You will be required to hand it over when you leave the country. If you lose it, there may be delays!

  • Just in case, it is a good idea to have a photocopy of your passport with you and another copy of it left back at home with someone you trust.

Currency/Money:

  • Mexican Peso

  • Inform your bank that you will be using your ATM and/or credit card in Mexico.

  • Bring a credit card for back-ups, an ATM card cleared with your bank for international debit withdrawals, and $100-$200 in $1’s and $5’s for tipping.

  • Local currency (pesos) or U.S. dollars can be taken out of most bank machines, however, it is much easier to get pesos than U.S. dollars so I would suggest bringing enough U.S. dollars with you to Cozumel to simplify matters.

  • Also, plan to pay a fee for each transaction. It is usually per transaction and not by the amount so better to take out larger amounts in fewer batches.

  • Mega the biggest supermarket (like a Walmart) has English check-out lines as well.

  • The best rule of thumb for the best exchange rate: pay with pesos in the local markets and pay with U.S. dollars in the big chain grocery stores (Mega and Chedraui) and other waterfront touristic stores/restaurants.

  • Fancier restaurants on the island typically also accept credit cards but there is a fee to Mexicans for doing this so don’t be surprised to see that 4-5% surcharge shifted over to your bill.

  • Most restaurants in the tourist areas have menus in Spanish and English with pesos or dollars quoted depending on the version you ask for. The menus are only printed occasionally and the peso to dollar exchange rate may have changed considerably since the last version. Therefore it never hurts to ask to see both menus and compare which would be the better deal for payment. For restaurants in the non-tourist areas like small tacquerias and loncherias frequented by locals you should use pesos.

Tipping:

  • Tipping for good service is always welcomed. Many Mexicans make an incredibly low base salary so taking the time to acknowledge good service providers with a kind tip will be much appreciated.

  • Restaurant tipping is comparable to the 15-18% tip amount that you would give at home.

Hours of Operation (Shopping & Restaurants)

  • Shops are generally open until around 9 pm, the time when restaurants are just picking up. Many people will still be out at 1 am enjoying their meal.

  • Siesta time is in the afternoon. It is observed by numerous locals, less touristic shops and businesses which may mean a few hours of being closed.

  • Most stores and many restaurants are closed on Sundays.

Electricity:

  • Same as in Canada and the U.S.

Packing:

  • Pack as light as you can (to leave room for souvenirs and since the humidity is high, this may add a couple of pounds to your luggage for the return trip).

  • Wearing cottons, linens, and quick dry moisture wicking materials are most comfortable.

  • Local laundromats can be found nearby and are very reasonably priced – they wash and fold everything for you (avoid sending hand-washable and finer clothing as all clothing is washed together).

Lifestyle:

Your accommodations are modern, clean, and comfortable with an attentive grounds man who lives on site and who will kindly respond to your needs and requests. He will clean your room twice over the week, as well as providing you with fresh linens and towels.

Here are some things to think about that may be different from home:

  • Keep food in the fridge or in sealed containers if out on the counter

  • If you plan to cook in your kitchen place scrapings and food waste in a plastic bag in your fridge or simply dispose of it in the central waste containers provided on site

  • Drink the purified water provided in your room – the grounds man will kindly refill it for you if you ask him

  • Taking probiotics, eating yogurt, and fermented foods one month prior to travel is a great way to minimize any food sensitivities when visiting a new environment

  • Rinse all vegetables and fruits in the purified water provided in your kitchen (if you wish you can even purchase a microbial enzyme/grapefruit extract in the neighboring grocery store if you wish – and I would be happy to pick this up for you)

  • Avoid placing paper products or personal hygiene products in the toilet (use the container provided beside the toilet instead)

  • To keep your room cool and comfortable, during the hottest times of day close your window shutters to keep the cool air in, especially if you leave and have turned off the air conditioning

  • In the evening avoid heavy perfumes and perfumed lotions or you may attract mosquitoes

  • Drink plenty of water, much more than you would normally.

  • Even on cloudy days, wear SPF/sunblock and reapply regularly, bring a hat, sunglasses, shawl to drape over your shoulders

Batteries:

  • Specialized batteries for digital cameras, hearing aids, etc. can be difficult to find and costly to buy so bring these items with you.

Brand Name Over-the-Counter Medicines:

  • If you occasionally use Tylenol, Advil, Aspirin and other such over-the-counter brand name medicines it is best to bring these with you instead of purchasing them in Mexico as they can be more costly.

  • Mosquito repellents are also surprisingly difficult to find and purchase so are best brought with you.