Often, the most important guy is the one you overlook. That clerk or secretary that really makes the process work, while someone else grabs all the glory for example. It is when you find that person, and you start dealing with the clerk or secretary to get things done, that things actually get done so much easier. You just have to know who really makes the machine run and go direct to that person.
One such person here in Costa Maya/Mahahual is the taxi dispatcher, that manages the taxi portal on cruise ship days. His name is Carlos Bernal , but we all call him Captain Charlie, and all taxis outside the port, go through his orderly process. If you want to go into town from the port, Captain Charlie is your go-to guy.
Steve and Captain Charlie at the Tropicante
It is good to know if you come into town, a few things about taxis in Mahahual, the town where the Port of Costa Maya is located. For example, even if you shuttle into town, you have to taxi back. Shuttles can only pick up passengers inside the port, not outside in the town. The port is not officially part of the city on Mahahual, so transports from inside the gates are not subject to taxi regulations, until they drop you off. Only taxis can take you back though, so knowing their rates are important. Now, taxis charge by the vehicle size, not by the person. Small taxis start at $8 US per trip, and can hold 3-4 people. There are different size vehicles, all holding different amounts, but all have set rates for the size of that vehicle, and that rate should usually work out to a fee of about $2-$3 US a person.
All of the pricing and operation rules are run through a local taxi union and this union has strict guidelines on how taxis must operate in the process of picking up passengers at portals, both in the town, and port area. Basically, the process is a get in line and wait your turn system. However, because of the different size groups that often exit the port together and prefer to ride together, the next guy in line might not have the right size vehicle for them to do that. That is where knowing Captain Charlie will help you.
Many large groups gravitate toward the larger shuttles provided by the port facility, thinking that might be better than taking several small taxis. We’ve been pointing our guests to the taxis to avoid the unpleasant and confusing process the street hawkers put the shuttle passengers through at the stops along the way. These jaladores, as they are called here and you can read more about on this link, harass and stoop to almost any level, to get people to follow them into restaurants that pay them. Same for the shuttle drivers, who cut deals to stop, or not stop, at certain locations, making it impossible for us to tell guests how to find our location.
But for large groups, or any for that matter, just letting Captain Charlie get your vehicle is the easy and simple solution to getting into town. His job is to organize the union process of allowing larger vans or extended SUV taxis, to break the order, so they can better serve larger groups. They have a process, one I don’t understand of course, except that it works for our guests. Larger groups can walk up to the portal, and ask Charlie to get them a larger vehicle and he will find the vans, or call them on a radio, and they will move up and take the larger groups.
But in addition to making sure tourists get the transport they need, he can also make sure your driver knows exactly where to take you. Captain Charlie speaks very good English, so he can understand when you tell him you want to go to a specific location, and make sure your special needs or wants are properly communicated to the driver before you leave. We tell our guests to tell him you’re going to the Tropicante, and he makes sure the driver knows you expect to get dropped there. And you will, but no matter, always get the taxi number, just in case.
If you are visiting Mahahual from the cruise port of Costa Maya, and want to get into town with no games, just walk past the port’s shuttle wagons and you will see the exit gate. Walk out that gate, and look for the yellow taxis just up the street, and a curb side pick-up area, where Captain Charlie will be waiting, and ready to help you get to where you want to go. He can help you get a private driver too for trips to ruins, Bacalar, or just the area beaches, and make sure you, and the driver, understand the arrangement. And if your are coming to the Tropicante, always tell Charlie you’re a friend, and any friend of ours, is a friend of Captain Charlie’s.
Thanks for reading and hurry down. We’re keepin’ your drinks cold!!