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resplendent in your shorts and shirt and follow the crowd to immigration.
Once the immigration officer stamps your visitors visa (issued and filled out
on the plane), place the visa he returns to you in a safe place because you will
need it when you head home. Next, you follow the crowd to the baggage claim.
Once you pick up your bags, head for the exit line. You will be asked to push a
large button. As you push, say a silent prayer for a green light because if you
are unlucky and get a red light, all your bags will be opened and customs offi-
cials will inspect everything, including your "unmentionables". You are allowed
to bring in $350 U.S. of goods duty free.
Once you are allowed to leave the baggage area, you will enter a small (by
U.S. standards) airport terminal with crowds of people watching you and ask-
ing if they can provide you transportation to your hotel. Some tour package
deals provide a ride to your hotel. If your transportation is provided, look for
someone holding up a sign with your hotel's name on it.
Also, don't worry about carrying your bags. There are lots of strong young
men eager to help you schlep your stuff to the bus or taxi. A one-dollar tip will
make them happy and save your back. As you exit baggage claim numerous
people offering you a free ride from the airport will approach you. No Virginia,
there is no such thing as a free ride, not even in Mexico. These nice people are
all timeshare salespeople, and you will be required to sit through a sales pres-
entation to collect your free ride. Trust me.
People always ask me the best deal for transportation from the airport. My
response is always, if you are in a hurry, take a taxi. If you have plenty of time
and want to see more of the city, take a bus.
Bus: The cost for travel on the bus is about $5 U.S. You could wind up on a
circuitous route to your hotel. If you know where your hotel is located, you
may be able to slip the driver a couple bucks and get him to drop you off first.
The other problem is that many buses allow timeshare salespersons on the bus
and they do their darndest to offer you anything from free breakfast to tours
to cash, just to hear a two-hour presentation. I'll discuss timeshares later in the
book, but since you will receive many more opportunities during your vaca-
tion, I suggest you resist the urge for all the "free" stuff and enjoy the ride to
the city.
Taxi: As you walk toward the exit of the airport, people will ask you if you
want a taxi. There are two taxi companies in Mazatlán. The yellow airport taxis
operate only from the airport to anywhere else. The fares are non-negotiable,
and payment is made in advance to a cashier near the parked taxis. At print-
ing, the cost was $22 U.S. regardless of the number of passengers and their
baggage. They are not disagreeable to your sharing a cab. The other taxis are
red and green in color, called "Ecotaxi," and take passengers all over Mazatlán,
Char les A. Hall