Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Inflammatory Events Lead to Rescue

The title of this article reminds me of a headline for the Onion.

Yesterday, when returning along the Cancun highway from Izamal after a hard day of eating tacos at Wayan'e, visiting antique shops and visiting the yellow city of Izamal, I passed a car parked on the side of the highway just in front of a state police truck, lights a-flashing as usual.

Glancing back in my rear-view mirror I noticed two white people and a pile of suitcases next to the car and thought to myself "these folks could probably use a little assistance" and upon returning to the scene, found a mother and daughter pair of Canadians who were stuck there and had been for the last 3 hours.



Turns out their rental vehicle - a crappy little Nissan Tsuru - had caught fire (literally, there were flames coming out of the motor) and they had to abandon the vehicle before a good Samaritan in a BMW stopped with an extinguisher and put it out. Also, villagers and passers by offered water for the now red-faced (from the sun) Canadians. Things were friendly enough but the state police folks wouldn't let them go until the federal police showed up to take over the situation (the Cancun-Merida highway is a federal highway) and make sure everything was hunky dory. The state police had already contacted the feds, but three patrol cars had already driven by and none had stopped; meanwhile the rental folks back in Cancun had told CanadaMom and daughter that someone was coming, but of course as they had no office in Merida, this might be a while. Needless to say, Mom was a little tense but they were good sports about it and had been talking about food and recipes with the policemen who were reluctant to leave the scene or the ladies.

After talking to the rental agent in Cancun and telling him where his rental car was and where his customers would be to get them another vehicle, and then the police assuring them that everything would be fine and the ladies were coming with me, I loaded them all into the car and away we went.

They assured me that they at no point felt unsafe or threatened in any way; just frustrated with the pace of the resolution of their situation. Let's see the North American newspapers print this story!

Lessons learned:

1) Rent your car from an agency that is established and has offices in both Merida and Cancun in case something like this ever happens to you. It's an unlikely scenario, but it can happen.

2) If your rental car catches fire in Mexico, make sure you are in the Yucatan, the safest state in the country.