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phrases are at Appendix 1. I have also included a conversion table in
English/Spanish at Appendix 2.
Money: Throughout the book I will try to convert pesos to U.S. dollars for
simplification, however since U.S. coins are useless in Mexico, I use pesos where
appropriate. I don't recommend taking a large amount of cash, but you should
bring along about twenty one-dollar bills to be used for tipping, and at least
one twenty dollar bill for the taxi fare from the airport. Don't exchange U.S.
currency at the airport booth as the rates are much lower than at the banks,
exchange booths that are all over the tourist zones, or even your resort hotel.
There is an ATM near the Alaska Airlines counter at the airport if you want to
take the time to get some pesos before leaving for the beach. The best rates are
at banks, and the best days are Monday through Thursday. I don't know of any
salesperson in Mazatlán that does not accept U.S. currency, but whenever
used, you will have to negotiate the exchange rate.
Leave your U.S. coins at home. Not only will they contribute to your being
"buzzed" at the airport metal detector, but also, no one in Mazatlán accepts
them. The only people I know that will take U.S. coins are the children in the
village of Copala that sell wooden carvings. I go there every year and exchange
their U.S. coins for Mexican pesos.
Travelers' checks can be exchanged, but remember that most exchange
institutions require picture ID. I suggest that ATM cards provide the best rates
and are far more convenient. After all, who wants to go all the way to Mazatlán
for vacation and stand in a long line at the bank? I have heard of several cases
where ATM cards have been either eaten, or the user walks away and leaves the
card in the machine. If your card is eaten, go in the bank immediately and
inform an employee of the problem. If the bank is closed, camp out there until
the bank opens as the person that "jammed" the machine is probably waiting
for you to leave. Always put your ATM card on top of the cash you receive and
put it away in your wallet before you exit the bank booth. If you rely com-
pletely on an ATM card, I suggest you bring a duplicate and keep it in a safe
Many shops, restaurants and hotel resorts accept credit cards, but they don't
always display on the window or cash register which cards are acceptable. If
you have no alternative to the credit card, check with the cashier prior to plac-
ing your order. Generally, exchange rates are very good on credit cards.
Emergency money: Western Union sends money from the States to
Mazatlán, but it can cost up to 10% at each end. Wire transfers can be made,
but it is complex and costly. My advice is to have a friend or relative make a
deposit in your checking account so you can use your ATM card to access the
Char les A. Hall