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Prices will always be marked in pesos on the pump. Be sure to get out of
your vehicle and watch the attendant zero out the pump before he starts your
order. The problem of overcharging tourists seems to persist. I recommend
filling the tank each time because you never know where the next station is or
if it happens to have the fuel you need. If your Spanish is limited, simply tell
the attendant "Lleno, por favor," point at the pump you want the fuel from and
give the thumbs up sign. It works for me!
All gas stations take U.S. currency and generally have the conversion rate
posted on the pump. Tips are not required, but I usually give the gas attendant
a tip equal to about a quarter. Like stations in the U.S., some Pemex stations
also have small grocery stores that sell packaged snacks and soft drinks.
Green Angels: The Mexican government operates a fleet of green trucks
called Green Angels. The trucks patrol the highways and provide professional
assistance to people with vehicle problems. The trucks carry a first aid kit,
short-wave radio, gasoline, and an assortment of common auto parts. Two
uniformed employees operate each truck. Sometimes, at least one of them
speaks English. The operators perform minor repairs for the cost of parts and
also provide tow service for up to 15 miles. If they are unable to solve the prob-
lem with your vehicle, they will tow it to a nearby mechanic. They will also give
you a ride or arrange for other assistance.
Driving tips: My experience has been that most drivers in Mexico are much
more courteous than in areas that I have driven in the U.S. (as a former mili-
tary officer, I drove all over the country), especially the large truck and bus
drivers. Cross-country buses make frequent stops to pick up passengers, etc. so
I think that is the reason they travel so fast. I was surprised my first time driv-
ing the posted speed limit south of Nogales and all the buses went zooming by
Don't drive at night. There is a popular misconception that the reason for
no night driving is because of the old stories about banditos supposedly cruis-
ing the highways looking for rich tourists to rip-off. The real reason is that cat-
tle roam the roads day and night, and the farmers/ranchers don't provide them
with reflectors or lights on their hindquarters. Not to mention the potholes
that are difficult to see during hours of reduced visibility.
I believe there is an over abundance of concrete in Mexico because every
town has a number of topes (speed bumps). There is usually one on the out-
skirts of town, and more within the city limits. They place warning signs, but
sometimes they are placed very close to the speed bump, and you are rudely
awakened from your daydream by the roof of your vehicle meeting your head.
Char les A. Hall