Colapso Mental?

Hopefully this is the final chapter in the contact lens fiasco. I got an e-mail from Mexico UPS on Thanksgiving afternoon saying I had to pay $475 pesos (about $40) to have my lens sent back to the U.S. from Mexico City, but that price was only good that day and the next day.

There were no instructions for who or how to pay. After another e-mail to them I learned that I had to go to a bank in Playa del Carmen and pay there into the UPS account. So I took the collectivo — about a 30-plus minute ride and walked to the bank. I didn’t have enough pesos, so took a $50 Traveler’s Check and two credit cards. I was hoping to pay with the credit card, because then when I get home I can stop payment on it since I never got my lens from UPS in Mexico and spent $100 sending it round trip.

The bank would only take pesos. Furthermore they wouldn’t cash my Travelers Check because I had signed them S. Reed Glenn and my passport is signed Susan Reed Glenn. This, of course was after a 20-minute wait at the bank, then another 15 minutes trying to understand their explanation of the problem in Spanish, and finally going to the manager. So I went to the ATM. It would not take either my Visa or American Express Card.

So sitting in the bank, I squeezed in the “usan” on my Traveler’s Check between the S. and the Reed and headed for another bank at the complete other end of the gigantic shopping mall. I found a money changing booth halfway and spent another half hour there with the young woman on the phone, probably asking her supervisor if she should accept the squeezed-in first name, and then spent another 10 minutes photocopying my passport and writing down everything on it on the back of my check. Back in Akumal at the travel center there I had absolutely no problem cashing my Traveler’s Checks.

They make you feel like a criminal. It’s almost like the Mexicans have concocted a way to get back at Americans for all their transgressions.

Cannons used to shoot Americans who alter their Traveler's Checks

Then I went back to the original bank and paid the ransom for my contact lens to UPS.

I then went back to Akumal and e-mailed the Mexico UPS lady telling her I paid the ransom. Of course it wasn’t enough for her to check online, she needed a copy of the receipt, so I had to find a copier and a fax machine. It was now nearing 5:00 p.m. on Friday and I was worried that everyone would leave work, and the ransom price would increase and I’d have to go through this all over again tomorrow. The eco center has a copier and fax, but no one was in the office except this young woman who knew nothing, including if they even had a fax machine or copier. She didn’t even know how to turn on the lights by the copier that I found. I figured out how to make a copy, but the fax machine was beyond me. I read all the instructions in Spanish, followed the directions and it didn’t work. So I went looking for someone with a fax machine or who could operate on in Spanish. I went to the maintenance person, the bakery (which was closed), the art gallery and even asked the turtle volunteer. Finally I found Dario, my bright and multilingual beach boss, who came and tried to get the fax machine to work — to no avail. Sweat was dripping from my head. Alma, the office person finally returned (from lunch — they eat around 4 p.m. here) and showed us another fax machine that worked. She sent the thing in a matter of seconds.

Then, of course I had to e-mail Mexico UPS to tell them I sent the fax and did they get it? They got it and Elizabeth of Mexico UPS thanked me for sending it. I thanked her and said to have a nice weekend, hoping she’d actually send my well-traveled contact lens home. We shall see.

Today is my birthday. I took a nice walk on the beach, went to the loncheria for breakfast and had chilaquiles (my favorite dish),

Chilaquiles, beans, rice and fresh-squeezed orange juice

then went to the bakery, where Bart, the owner treated me to a latte and sticky bun — the best! He told me the story of the earless, toothless cat, who he personally saved and named “Pet Cemetery.” He’s a one-man humane society and personally funds multiannual vet clinics to neuter and spay the stray animals

Bartley Smith, Turtle Bay Bakery & Cafe owner and one-man humane society

and send Rocio, the sainted woman who feeds Pet Cemetery and the other kitties, to schools to educate the kids. The stray animals in Akumal have a good life, thanks to Bartley, his wife, Jennifer and Rocio, co-owner of the Hide-A-Way dress shop.

"Pet Cemetery," the earless, toothless, fungus-clawed kitty

Bart says when he found him, Pet Cemetery looked a hundred times worse than he does now — which is really hard to imagine. He was cured with tuna fish and love. Now Rocio administers fungicide to his claws and has managed to catch the fungus herself.

Beach vine

Categories: Uncategorized | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Colapso Mental?

  1. Oh, my word (and you can imagine what that word is!)–what a mess. I just hope you end up with the contact when you get back home. You were certainly persistent–living in a developing country is not for sissies! xo

  2. Evelyn Kaye

    You know, you might think about what it feels like to be a Spanish speaking immigrant in Colorado trying to get a parcel organized to send to Mexico and pay for it without a great deal of understanding of how the system works. Or maybe a Russian immigrant or a visitor from Vietnam. You are having a first-hand experience of what if feels like to be an immigrant in Mexico when you don’t have a green card and you don’t know the language and you’re trying to grasp how to do things…..

  3. I wish we could tie the likes of Tom Tancredo and Lou Dobbs to chairs and make them read your frustrating tale and Evelyn’s perfect analogy. BTW, I love the caption on the cannon shot.

  4. Your experience makes me feel like I never want to leave home. What a frustrating day for you.

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