I’m Not Moving to Progreso

My cleaner called this weekend to ask if he could come today instead of tomorrow, which was fine with me and actually better suited my work schedule. He arrived at just shy of ten and I took off for Progreso to try to open a bank account at the Banamex there and then have lunch on the Malecón.

I found convenient parking and then headed towards the water. Here is the pier I had to drive to get to Aduana. It is the longest pier in the world! Aren’t I lucky to have had a chance to drive it!

I lasted about two minutes on the Malecón. It was overrun with aggressive touts offering overpriced services and goods in US dollars to folks coming off the cruise ships. It was very unpleasant. After one woman hounded me to buy her bottled water for 1USD, I told her loudly so everyone around could hear, “I’ve lived in your country over a year now. I know that water is worth 8 pesos at most, less than half what you’re selling it for, and I don’t want it!” I was done with the Malecón after that and didn’t even want to go into the central market area that reminds me of Mazatlán centro because the harassment just continued there. Very disappointing, but at least that eliminated any inkling I might have to move to Progreso instead of Mérida. This is not the Mexico I want to live in!

As I headed back towards the main plaza where the banks are clustered, I passed a clothing shop that had a sign saying they do Amigo (TelCel pay as you go) top ups. For some reason, the actual TelCel shop I’d been to did not top up Amigo, so I was glad for this since I’m using my phone a lot here and forgot to top it up the last time I was out. I put on $200, which gets me unlimited talk, text, 1.5GB of Twitter and Facebook, and an additional 1GB for other surfing for 33 days, all good in Mexico, the US, and Canada. Amazing value!

Then, I went into the Banamex and was quickly served by an executive. He would have opened an account for me on a residente temporal visa, but my water bill was no good as proof of domicile. He wanted an original power or hard wired internet bill (not one printed off the computer). That will be impossible to get, so I resigned myself to trying out the HSBC. I know a lot of expats use them, but they don’t have many ATMs, so they’re low on my list.

On the way to the HSBC, I passed an ice cream shop and popped in hoping they would have “real” ice cream made with cream, not the more sorbet-like nieve I used to get in Maz. They did! And the first flavour I saw was my favourite, cookies and cream (galletas de Oreo)! A small cup of that was a very reasonable $15. I enjoyed it while I did some quick research on the various HSBC accounts.

I had a bit of a longer wait at HSBC even though the bank was completely empty. They told me the same thing Banamex did, but a print off from the computer would work. So that’s my best bet for getting a bank account in Mexico. I figure that if it doesn’t work for me, I can try again with Banamex once I have a notarized lease. So I will see if my hosts can get me a CFE bill, but I’m pretty much resigned to not being able to get a bank account until I get my own place. I still feel like I’m making progress, though. 🙂

I was ready to head home after, but it was only about 11:30 and while the cleaner would likely be done with my suite by then, he’d be in the kitchen and so making lunch would be difficult. So it made sense to look for an early lunch. The was a restaurant a couple of doors down from the HSBC, right off the main plaza, that looked inviting. I asked for a menu and it had tons of things on it that looked good at very reasonable prices. The owner gave me her list of specialities and mentioned her enchiladas mole several times, so that’s what I went with. 🙂

Underneath the hearty (and surprisingly spicy!) sauce is seasoned chicken wrapped in corn tortillas. There were five of them! With a beer, lunch came to $93, so $100 with the tip. I was suitably pleased. What I liked best, though, after my experience on the malecón was that while the menu did  have an English translation, they were very happy to serve me in Spanish and the other patrons were all Mexican. So I managed to find a place to eat  that wasn’t a tourist trap. Isn’t the dining room pretty? Everyone else was eating outside, but I had to get out of the sun a bit.

Here is Progreso town hall:

A “silla de confidente.”

The main square.

I love these orange flowers.

I then found my truck (parked behind city hall, as it turned out) and headed home. Now, time to get back to work!

29 thoughts on “I’m Not Moving to Progreso

  1. Malecons are like malecons everywhere with their aggressive servers and salesmen. Stay away when a cruise ship is in port! They are full of ignorant people just begging to get rid of hundreds of dollars in a very short time and the hawkers and shills are more than happy to help them lighten their wallets.

    I can’t wait until you venture over to Puerto Vallarta for a vacation and are faced with the wall to wall condo salesmen who simply will not take “no” for an answer, not even a very rude “no”. “Hello sir, I just noticed your very nice t-shirt. Where did you buy it? Do you like PV? Are you in the market for a condo? Come with me to look at mine and I will give you a (sunset cruise, bottle of tequila, dinner for 2, a free night in a hotel, or $500 pesos cash).

    • Most of the Malecón in Maz is not like this!

      And thanks for the heads up about PV. NEVER going there.

      • The Maz malecon is lovely, and the one in PV is mostly free of hawkers. There are many in the Mercado Municipal, which is all tourist stalls, and near the cruise ship port.
        Do come to PV at some point; it is beautiful to see the jungle meet the sea, especially south of town. And the Jardin Botanica is not to be missed! (Neither is the bus tide up to the garden!)

          • A “critical mass” of expats can be useful. I started studying Spanish at 64; I doubt I will become fully fluent in my lifetime. When we visited PV, I was grateful for the abundance of 12 Step fellowship meetings in English. YMMV.

  2. In my experience, Banamex had the highest fees of all the banks in Chetumal. ScotiaBank had the lowest.

    • I’m going with a basic free account, so fees aren’t an issue. I’m focused on the ease of finding an ATM. 🙂

    • PV is the main reason we started avoiding big cities and tourist meccas in Mexico. We walked down the street directly across from the ocean for about an hour before having to hide in a restaurant and were accosted by at least ten or fifteen aggressive condo salesmen. I don’t usually get too annoyed by these guys, everyone has to make a living, but when you tell them you are in no way interested they should take the hint and move on to the next sucker. These guys did not, they just kept increasing their offers and would not leave us alone. I do not recall hearing ANY Spanish the whole time we were there (a day trip from Lo de Marcos). Cancun is bad for this but PV was worse. All transactions were quoted in US dollars.

      • Blech. I was happy in Maz when the vendors on the beach and the mercado began to recognise me and stopped harassing me. I’m also happy I have enough Spanish to resorting to calling them bad names if they refuse to leave me alone… 😀

      • I don’t know when you were last in Puerto Vallarta or which “street across from the ocean” you were walking on, but our experience was very different. We spent three weeks there at the height of tourist season this year (January and February), staying at the far south end of town below the end of the Malecon. We walked the entire length of it every morning (and not so early) in both directions. We weren’t accosted by anyone although a few hawkers at bars and restaurants would call out. We did our shopping in Spanish at the Mercado sand panaderias. It’s a big town; you can find what you look for.

        • Deborah, I find that having expats go before you can be helpful to help you figure out how things work, but, generally, my experience with expats has been negative. There are just so many of them who don’t want to integrate, have a superiority complex, and who have this idea of what Mexico is that doesn’t come close to the country I am falling in love with. Most expats are of that ilk that I met RVing, boomers with a very rigid world view and strong ideas about how the world is who don’t try to understand why things are the way they are. They’re not people I would associate with back home and they’re certainly not people I want to associate with here. Having the advantage of being in fluent in Spanish means that I don’t have to rely on these people to be my social and support network.

          The expats I find useful and that I’m happy to befriend are those who truly live here, have a strong network of Mexican acquaintances, and who can help me understand social norms here and walk me through the steps of how, say, to get a driver’s license without eye rolling about how inefficient Mexicans are (which I’m discovering is generally utter BS).

          In your example, I can understand how you would want a group of expats to join, not just because of linguistic reasons, but also cultural.

          I have to stress again that I believe that everyone has the right to be the expat they want to be and to come here for their own reasons. I just don’t appreciate it when expats try to indoctrinate me to their worldview, like I experienced in Mazatlán.

          • No attempt to indoctrinate here! I am uncomfortable, however, when I read over-broad generalizations or binary judgments (expats bad/Mexicans good, PV bad/Maz good). Having said my piece, I’ll look forward to your next adventure and prepare for ours.

        • Deborah: http://croftsmexico.blogspot.ca/2008/11/puerto-vallarta.html

          Our most memorable times in Mexico were wandering the tiny villages of the interior where we were the only non-locals, sitting in little cafes with no pressure and no lineups of people trying to sell us something. People were friendly, helpful and some were anxious to try out their English on us. They were not trying to sell us anything but were there if we needed something. Completely opposite to our experiences in Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Cozumel, the “Mexican Riviera” and even Mazatlan and Guadalajara although the latter is much better than the rest. Any vendor that wants US dollars and / or charges “cruise ship” prices does not get our business.

          • Yep.

            I still can’t get over the number of expats in Maz who told me that there was nothing to do in Durango and that it was a waste of money to go there for a long weekend. Well, it was there that I got a taste of a real vibrant cultural Mexican city where I would be treated like any other guest, not like a walking dollar sign. I have absolutely no interest in visiting any of the places on your list. Maz was a wonderful place to get a start in Mexico and there is so much about it that I miss, but it taught me so much about how I do not want to live in this country. I look forward to seeing what life is like wherever I land in Mérida. The beach communities are way too overrun by expats to be the experience I want, but I know that if I make some effort, I’ll find an authentic neighbourhood to settle in. Yet, I strongly suspect that once I start exploring other cities and further hone my language skills, I’ll end up moving somewhere else with no established expat population.

          • We have always said that if we wanted to be around a bunch of Americans there is a much easier way to do that than driving all the way to Mexico. I am most offended by people insisting on paying with American dollars and refusing to even make an attempt to communicate in Spanish. I have personally heard both of these comments spoken loudly and rudely in restaurants, “How much is this in REAL money!” and “This menu is written in MEXICAN! How do you expect me to read it?”

  3. Deborah, I’m not overgeneralizing. I’m just stating my observations interacting with a wide variety of of expats. Go hang out on some of the forums and you’ll see what I mean. I don’t know where you think I believe expats are bad or Maz is better than PV. For the later, I haven’t even been to PV so how would I know? But for what it’s worth, Mérida is definitely way better FOR ME than is Maz.

  4. Croft, yep to all that. THOSE are the expats who offend me and whom I don’t want to deal with. There are so many on forums offering bad advice to newcomers to Mexico!

    Other offensive things they do is buy services from other expats who are not legally allowed to make money here (ie. stealing a job from a qualified Mexican), saying, “Oh, that’s Mexico” with a sigh of superiority, bringing things in from the US and Canada instead of buying here and not paying the duty on them, telling me that speaking Spanish will ruin Mexico for them (I’ve had at least a dozen people tell me that!!!), and more. I could go on and on and on.

  5. A thought about unwanted solicitations:

    I might make myself up a sign on posterboard (pliable enough to be foldable) and write on it in English and Spanish something on the order of:


    Or some such nonsense.

    And then stare blankly at folks soliciting me with unwanted goods/services/timeshare opportunities, furrowing my brow from time to time!

    If they catch you speaking aloud later, all the better! Just practice up on your “poker face”!!!

    Virtual hugs,


      • I recoil at these intrusions, and would go to extremes to avoid the occasion of such an event. Perhaps others could be more gracious in the refusal of unwanted contact.

  6. Hello Rae,
    A couple of late comments on your experience on the Malecon at Progresso. You Hello Rae,
    A late comment on your trip to the malecon. You were obviously mistaken for a gringa tourist by the local vendors. That bottle of water which was attempting to be sold to you by a local for $1usd currently sells on the cruise ship for $2.35 usd plus 15% gratuity tax. On one hand you have a multi – billilon $ corporation, on the other a local trying to earn an income. Undoubtably that bottle is expensive by local standards but the question needs to be asked as to how many family members is that seller supporting? Perhaps if you took the time to use your developing language skills and enquired of a persons background instead of ‘grandstanding’ to all and sundry, you will assimilate much quicker into culture of which you so much desire.

    • If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I befriended many vendors on the beach on Isla. This is how I know these people are not children to be pitied but shrewd business people making a living ripping off stupid tourists. If a couple of polite “Thanks, but I’m not interested,” in their language is not sufficient to get them off my back, then they deserve a scolding, same I as I would do with a telemarketer or a pushy salesperson in a store.

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