Isla Mujeres Mystery ~ Lynda L. Lock
When it’s busy – everyone ignores the signs & yellow curbs
Flinging his long arms out wide to their full extent, he said, “you should write about the pah-king problem on Isla.”
Yep! We do have a pah-king problem on Isla, a big problem. 

(Translation: Parking, spoken with a New England accent!)

Double yellow curbs – and lots of no parking signs
In 2011, a previous Presidente (Mayor), decided that parked vehicles were unsightly and should not be allowed on streets where arriving tourists could see them. 

The busy main road, Rueda Medina, servicing the beaches and restaurants on the west side of the island was torn up, the sidewalks widened, and the driving lanes decreased to a tight-fitting one lane in each direction. 

Too bad for you if you get stuck driving behind a beer delivery truck, the garbage truck, or other slow moving vehicles.

Next large No Parkingsigns, a circle surrounding a large E (Estacionamiento) and a slash through the letter, were installed. And finally the curbs were painted bright yellow on both sides of the street. There! No more unsightly cars will be parking on this street. In Mexico a red curb indicates don’t park here – ever! A yellow curb signifies stopping to load/unload is allowed. A white curb says parking is okay – unless you are trying to park in front of a store, garage, carport, or house. In these locations you are likely to find that frustrated owners have blocked the curb with plastic chairs, traffic cones, or buckets of concrete festooned with no parking signs. Parking illegally can result removal of your vehicle license plate and a hefty fine to get it back. But, here’s the fun part, no one knows where or when the parking restrictions will be enforced. It’s a game of chance!

A very rare bit of white painted curb on Juarez Avenue

Earlier this week we drove around the downtown/centro area of Isla looking for white curbs where parking is allowed. Rare! Really rare. What we saw were dozens of streets with yellow curbs on both sides of the road. One side, by common practice, would be filled with parked cars, golf carts and motos, while the other side was left open for moving traffic. On some streets, like Juarez, the accepted side for parking changes from block to block. You have to be a local to figure out the system.

Big lot next to passenger ferry – priced too high for locals

There are still three or four places in centrothat are commonly used for parking, but none of them are near restaurants or stores. The biggest lot is beside the new passenger ferry terminal. It’s a convenient place to leave your vehicle if you happen to be going into Cancun for shopping or appointments. It’s not a convenient location if you plan to eat at a restaurant or shop at a store. On any given day this large, newly upgraded parking facility has only five or six vehicles inside the fenced area instead of the usual thirty cars the lot held when it was just a dirt lot. The facility operators have doubled the price from $5.00 pesos per hour to $10.00 pesos per hour or portion of an hour. For locals who may only earn between $8.00 and $10.00 dollars a day the price increase was just too much. The lot sits almost empty – day after day after day.

Across the street is the Joaquin Golf Cart lot

Another parking spot on Rueda Medina is inside the Joaquin Golf Cart rentals near the port captain’s office, but space is very limited. The cost is exactly the same as across the street at the bigger municipal parking lot – $10.00 pesos per hour or portion of an hour. In this lot you leave your keys with the vehicle as the employees usually shuffle carts and cars around during the day. Golf carts out for rental, cars allowed in. Golf carts back, cars get moved around.

Vehicles tolerated on this private lot – for the present.

The other two common places to park are on private property, and the cars are, for the present time, tolerated by the property owners. In the late afternoon, or early evening both of these locations quickly fill up with dozens of supply trucks: Bimbo bread, chips, cookie distributors. At some point in the future one or perhaps both of these empty lots will be developed – and there goes the only convenient parking for centro
For the downtown merchants, store owners, restaurant operators parking for their customers is a nightmare. And, if you have to do any business with the Municipality, forget trying to get into their small lot. It is always full, with cars double-parked behind, blocking everyone.

Mousehole England – we brought the traffic to a standstill!

However, no matter where you travel parking can be a problem. I remember many years ago when we were travelling in southern England, we stopped our car in front of a hotel in the quaint village of Mousehole. By the time the owner had supplied us with availability and nightly room rates our car had successfully blocked traffic in the entire town. Within minutes we had a spit-spewing, red-faced British policeman screaming at us. “Move the *#%ing* car!” When the policeman stomped away to sort out the mess we giggled uncontrollably at our stupid-tourist moment. We spent two relaxing nights at the hotel and still giggle over that first impression of Mousehole.

Everyone needs a parking space sooner or later

People drive vehicles, for work, for travel, for entertainment. It’s reality. We need someplace to leave them temporarily while we enjoy a meal, or do a bit of shopping. On Isla Mujeres it would be great if the powers-that-be would just pick a side on each street and allow parking. It’s going to happen anyway.

Pah-king! It’s a problem, but we’ll make room for you, somewhere. And we promise not to yell: “Move the *#%ing* car!”

Hasta Luego    Lynda & Lawrie

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