Day 9 – Gettin’ the Hub

Cancún International Airport/Mexico City – 24th June 2021

I am up at 5.20am to get ready to leave. My bags are in the car apart from my backpack and I’m all set to go. I go out to the car and notice there is a plastic wheel cover/hub missing… mmm I’ve never noticed that before, but don’t think too much about it; it probably flew off after navigating one of the thousands of death trap potholes I guess.

I am at the airport for 6.30 to drop off the car. A guy takes the key and walks around checking the car, he doesn’t say anything other than to point over to a seating area and say that is where the shuttle will pick me up. Oh great because these bags are bloody heavy. I drag them over and then go into the office to finalise handing the car back. The guy behind the desk takes the paperwork and then looks intently at the screen. He then chats with a female colleague while pointing at my paperwork. She seems to have brought in the report from the guy outside and they are clearly discussing something so I ask if there is anything wrong. He points to something on the car related to the boot, a small piece of trim is missing. I am gobsmacked, who on earth checks the trim inside the boot, I certainly don’t. I tell him I have no idea about it. He asks did I take photos, “yes, but not of the inside of the car”.. I mean FFS. He then has another relatively lengthy chat with the colleague and then says “the hub is missing, we will have to charge you.” “Hold on, I paid for the collision damage waiver at $17 US a day so that is covered.” “No, that is not covered the insurance won’t cover it.” Now I am really getting the hump… “NO, WHEN I TOOK OUT THE EXTRA COVER I WAS TOLD IT COVERED EVERYTHING!!!” “No, this is not covered we have to charge you. The insurance will not cover it” “Look I didn’t even know the hub was missing, it probably came off from the terrible potholes… I mean if I had seen it come off, what was I supposed to do, jump out of the car and chase after it?” “Did you take photos when you picked up the car” “Yes” “Can you check the hub?” “I don’t think I took photos of the wheels, I will check”. There are no photos of the wheels of course, I mean who does that? He insists that I will have to pay.. ok so it’s one shitty plastic wheel trim, what’s that going to be? a fiver or something, especially here in Mexico it’ll probably work out to about 50p. “Ok, so how much is the charge?” “$1,350 pesos” “What!” I break out my currency converter, that’s £50… fucking £50 for one fucking hub. “No that must be wrong, I can buy a whole set for much, much less than that” “Ah, but this is Mexico and it is expensive for car parts here”. Now I don’t believe it for a minute, talk about fucking scam, the whole thing has been a complete rip off from start to finish. I pay up as it is now almost 7am and I need to get over to the terminal and get my bags dropped off, I have already checked in online, but I want to give myself plenty of time to sit, have a coffee and something to eat before boarding. When I booked the car online with Carflexi I took out insurance with them, this was to cover eventualities such as this, so hopefully I can make a claim to get this money back… it’s just the sheer injustice of it all.

The shuttle bus drops me at the terminal. No sooner have I stepped off the bus and got my bags out than another bloke comes over grabs my large bag and says, “Let me help you lady”. Now, normally, I would be a bit miffed as I like to be able to manage everything myself, but this morning I just nod and let him take the bags. He asks which airline, Volaris, ok and off we go. He is quite a wiry older man and easily hoists the extra large duffel onto his shoulder and drags the roller bag. I tell him the duffel has wheels so he doesn’t need to carry it, I take over the roller. He tells me to have my boarding pass ready as I will have to show it 4 times. There is an enormous queue, it is probably 6 rows deep and moving very slowly. We join the back of the queue and he takes the large duffel several rows ahead and drops it. He comes back and tells me to leave it there and pick it up when I get to it. I ask him how much for his help.. he shrugs and mumbles something about $500 pesos or whatever. Well I only have $750 and I am going to need some money so I ask if $250 is ok, (I mean he only rolled the one bag about 400m, it’s not really that far), he says yes in a kind of half hearted way, so the deal is done and off he goes. The queue takes forever and eventually I am at the front and directed by the security person to position number 6. I put the duffle on the scale and immediately I can see it is slightly over weight; my allowance is 25kg per bag and this is 26.3, hope it will be ok. It’s not, he says I will have to pay $60 US for the extra kg and take it to the over weight luggage bay. I say, but I have another bag that is much lighter is it not 50kg combined.. he doesn’t understand my English so I say, ok I will take something out and make it lighter. We go to and fro with this, me saying I’ll do that and him telling me I have to pay.. then the penny drops and he tells me to go over to the side and come back to him when it is done. So that is what I do. There is another passenger at his position so I am standing waiting when the security comes over and tells me to move. I tell him I was told to come back.. no you must go to the back of the queue.. oh no, really.. but I might miss my plane. You must go to the back… the queue is just as long as before and took over 20 minutes last time, I can’t fucking believe it, can this shitty day get any worse?? I join the back of the queue and 20 minutes later, by a quirk of fate, I am back in front of Mr Number 6, he smiles a little awkwardly I think, I say “Don’t tell people to come back when you know they have to rejoin the queue”.. not a happy fucking bunny I can tell you. The bag now weighs 22.2kg. I only have 20 minutes before my gate will be announced and I still have to get through security… jeez.

I go to the security section and realise I have to complete an online health questionnaire so I quickly get it up on my phone and complete it. I show it to the security guard who tells me I have to fill in a paper form, the electronic one isn’t working properly…. fume, fume. It actually only takes 5 minutes to complete so I take it back, there is a small queue, but soon I am at the x-ray machines. Everything goes through ok.. makes a change… and at last I am in the departure lounge. The first thing I do is get a coffee and croissant. I sit down to eat and a few minutes later my gate is announced so no time for any duty free browsing.

At the gate there are seats available so I am relieved to be able to sit down and finish my coffee. My gate is right next door to a flight by Alaskan Airlines to LA, their PA system is really loud. Our flight starts to make an announcement only to be suddenly drowned out by Alaska… I don’t know how anyone can hear what our lot are saying, and they don’t seem to repeat it. None of the announcements are translated into English so I have absolutely no idea what is going on. This happens again and again, in fact nearly all the Volaris announcements are being completely obliterated by Alaska.. I do hope they take off soon. Then one announcement gets through unscathed and I think I hear Group 1 or something like that and people are starting to get up. I am in group 1 because I paid extra for a front row seat, it has more leg room and I want to get off as quickly as possible, so I get up and join the group. There are a few other announcements and other lines are forming.. not sure what is going on and try to ask a mother and son in front of me if this is Group 1? They don’t answer but someone else says yes. Ok so looks like I’m in the right place then.. good. The flight is due to take off at 10.03 and it is now 09.40.. nothing is happening… Annemarie is meeting me at the airport and has asked how it’s going, I think she is tracking the flight and seems to know it’s delayed.. well she knows more than me that’s for sure. Alaskan is still looking for 2 missing passengers and have made several booming announcements.. suddenly the young man in front turns to me and says, “Are you going to LA?” Oh so he does speak English, he was just being ignorant before… “No, Mexico City”… “Oh, it has been delayed, we don’t know why” “Ok, not to worry I’ll just follow you when you move”. He smiles and turns away again. About 25 minutes later we are still standing in line waiting for something to happen, when a Flight Attendant calls for Group 1 to form over on the right; she has a ‘lollipop’ sign with Group 1 on it that she places where she wants us to go. I am the only one in our line who moves, so I guess I wasn’t in the right lane after all.. anyway soon after this we start moving forward to go through the gate and board the plane.

After the last person has boarded, we are all sitting waiting, the captain makes an announcement, no English of course, but I hope it is to say we will be leaving soon as we are really late… I eventually boarded at 10.15. At 11.02 I text Annemarie to tell her we are still on the tarmac, I don’t know why. She checks the tracker and texts me that the plane is delayed an hour and due to take off at 11.14. At last we are taxi-ing and eventually wheels up at 11.30.

I take some photos as we leave the Yucatan peninsula.. looks like there are at least some un-developed pristine beaches still left, I wonder if that will be the case in 20 years time?

The only thing of note to happen on the flight is this. I am seated in row one in a window seat, the middle seat is empty and the aisle seat has a disabled chap in it who was carried on to the flight so I presume he has mobility issues. Anyway, at one point I happen to glance over at him and he has his hand down his trousers… seriously!! He sees me looking and takes his hand out.. I mean WTF!

We land about 2 hours later.. here are some shots of the enormous urban sprawl that is Mexico City.. note the pall of pollution hanging over the city

Out into the airport, I do not have to go through security again as it is a domestic flight so just make my way direct to baggage reclaim. After about 15 minutes the belt starts to roll and luggage begins to appear. Then suddenly it stops.. at 2pm Annemarie asks how its going.. I say it’s stopped, no announcement or anything. She is now getting worried because she has to get home for a conference call by 3pm, I tell her to go, I can get an Uber.. but she says she will wait a little longer. Just then I notice the belt next door is moving and some people on my one are going across to it.. I look and there is my duffle so I dive over to retrieve it, a few minutes later I have my roller and am making my way out to meet Annemarie.. what a nightmare today has been so far.

She is waiting for me, but the Uber will be here in a few minutes so we have to rush to meet it.. then it changes to a 15 minute wait so she cancels it and orders another one. It arrives within a few minutes and we pile in. It is so good to see her and we sit in the Uber having a quick catch up before dropping her and taking me on to my lodgings.

After a bit of trundling about I find the right door… well actually its more like a huge garage door with a wicket door for pedestrians. I press the doorbell and it is opened by an older woman. I tell her who I am and she lets me in. Inside there is a car parking area, it open to the air so it’s not a garage, there are two cars parked in it. Then there is a long glass wall, it looks quite Art Deco-ish, I really like it. She asks me to lift my feet so she can spray my shoes with, I presume, some disinfectant and then proceeds to spray my luggage.. mmm not had this before. She then asks me to gel my hands of course. We enter the property and it is a huge open plan room with two columns supporting the upper floor, it is very New York loft in appearance, again loving this property. There is a flight of stairs up to the first floor where my room is situated so I take the roller up first as it’s the lightest.. I am strangely quite out of breath. She precedes to show me the room and my bathroom which is situated across the landing, so not en-suite, am a bit disappointed with that. She introduces herself as Laura, (sounds like lowwra), and says she will help me with the other big duffel bag, but she seems out of breath too. We do down and she does attempt to help me with the bag, but I just pick it up and throw it onto my shoulder butching my way up the stairs with it saying, don’t worry I’ll do it. Bloody hell it is an effort though. We go into my room and I drop the bags, she gives me the keys and explains what they are for etc. and then leaves.

I survey the room… well it is certainly extremely old fashioned, which is kind of quaint and quirky. However, it is also quite dirty, there are net curtains up at the huge full width windows that have certainly not seen the inside of a washing machine for years, the carpet is frankly disgusting, it needs a serious hoover, a dirty old jug and basin that may or may not be antiques and a fitted wardrobe made years ago – you have to jiggle the doors about to get them open and closed – inside there are items of clothing hanging up, an old TV set and a stripy bag with what appears to be a blanket in one side and a set of drawers, some of which have stuff in, on the other. To top it all there is a broken standard lamp, that doesn’t actually work, with what appears to be toilet roll tubes on it..

and fuck only knows that this is… I’m certainly not inspecting it to find out


I drop my stuff and need to sort out my bike rental. While I was in the Uber I received an email from the bike rental company, they say that due to covid restrictions they are not operating in Mexico City at the moment and have refunded my money. I let Annemarie know and she is immediately on the case to find another renter. She finds something for me so as soon as I can I get online to check it out. It takes quite a lot of sorting out as I am not able to see the booking form etc. etc. but Annemarie helps me out with it and indeed has already rung them and talked about my renting a BMW F750 for a few days. Eventually I am able to fill in the form and establish communication with them via what’s app, which means I can use my iTranslate app to prepare texts from English into Spanish before I send them. This helps everything to go smoothly so I will have a bike from Saturday morning until Tuesday morning. It’s not cheap but we will certainly be making good use of it over the weekend and on Monday I am sure. Huge thanks to AM for all her help, plus translating for me too, her Spanish is just soooo good, am completely envious.

Then I find this on the bed

Seriously gross… and look how dirty the bed spread is… OMG.. I pick up the mozzie skeleton and put it in the waste bin.. I am dreading pulling back the covers to inspect the sheets, remember bed bug hell from 2016!! But the bed is fine, the sheets are thin but clean. I mean I have paid an absolute pittance to stay here, just £66 for 6 nights, so £11 a night! I do believe this is the cheapest nightly rate I have ever had, but it certainly isn’t the worst stay.. think Huntingdon Beach or the Motherroad Hostel in Albuquerque!!

Now it is time to go out for a bit of an explore and to eat something… I am going to have to go to bed really early as I am working from 3am until 11am, i.e. 9-5 in the UK, so I must get some sleep beforehand if I can. Annemarie tells me the best places to go, so out with Google maps and I make my way towards the hip centre of Coyoacán, the area I am staying in. I have a really lovely walk and am soon at the main square.. and they have a Starbucks.. well I really must go in there, but first some photos are required

It is a very, very trendy area… exactly my cup of tea, or should I say coffee… ahhh yes, Starbucks. I go in and am immediately drawn to one of the mugs, yes I need a 2021 tour mug, so I pick this one

North America Tour 2021 Official Coffee Mug

It is now gone 9pm and I really need to eat and get to bed. On the way here I saw a rather nice Cantina that had Quesadilla on the menu, so I think I will go back there as it is on the way to bed. Awww no it’s shut, bummer. Ok so I am going to have to go to bed without any bread and jam tonight I guess. But, almost at the end of the walk back, I come across a Japanese restaurant so go straight in. The waiter is a delightful chap who speaks excellent English and is already my best friend haha. I order Chicken Teriyaki and very good it is too…. mmmmm. Back to the dirt bag to go to bed.. OMG the curtains don’t close… ok so I am not overlooked, but I still feel quite exposed, especially with the lights on.. sigh. I go to bed and must try to sleep, yawn, let’s pray the internet works well enough for my zoom appointment… fingers and everything else crossed.

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