Even the smallest things take on the aura of a great adventure when you’re living in another country. In this case, it was my first Uber ride in Mexico.
The vote to allow the ride-sharing service in Mazatlán only passed last year. When I learned that my ultra conscientious friend and a mother of three allowed her 17 year-old daughter to use Uber, I felt I could take the chance.
Among Mexicans I know, they seem to feel Uber is the safer of the two choices.
I will always love the taxi drivers here in Mazatlán. They are friendly, helpful and fun to talk to. After four years, some even remember me.
I will continue to support them, even when I might save a few pesos with Uber.
However, at times you want the anonymity of arriving to your destination in a street car.
The Uber ride share cars only carry a discreet $ sign on the dash, if that, to indicate they are Uber cars, plus all the other advantages they have over taxis. Largely they rely on flashing their lights to let you know they're looking for you.
While there was a lot of resistance to Uber at first from taxi-drivers (just like in the U.S.), good taxi drivers have begun making the switch. Some have shared that Mexican taxi syndicatos are so corrupt they much prefer working for Uber.
Tip: Since more former taxi drivers are Uber drivers in Mexico, check the ratings more carefully.
If you are planning to use Uber in Mexico, remember that Mexican addresses are written very differently from ours. Collect business cards or create your own for the places you might be frequenting often (don't forget to keep a card of the address of your own place). Write down every detail of the address into the app.
Just like at home you will receive an e-mail receipt and opportunity to rate your driver after the ride.
They rate you as a passenger too. Tipping in cash, I believe, plays a bigger part in how they rate you as a passenger here. The Uber app doesn't allow you to tip after the ride like Lyft, which I'm used to and has that feature.
When a few of my first drivers didn't get a tip (it took me a few rides to realize the difference in the tipping option on the app) my passenger rating immediately went down to 4.5.
In Mexico you have a choice between paying with the credit card already have on file with Uber at home or “en efectivo”(paying in cash). Mexico is more of a cash country than ours. It's much harder for Mexicans to get credit cards than it is for people in the U.S. which is probably why Uber had to make the modification.
Uber drivers in Mexico have told me that some drivers have a preference for cash customers, which may be why at times my wait times have been longer than I'm used to at home. They're taking passengers that are paying cash first over those who are paying with a credit card. I still have never waited more than seven minutes regardless of my choice of payment option.
At first I paid cash but now prefer to use my credit card. If there's a question about a charge, I want a record.
Unlike cabs, since they are rated, Uber drivers here keep spotless cars and always have the windows up and the air conditioning on. If you're not in a hurry, go for the option of sharing the ride. You save money and get to see a little more of the city and its inhabitants as they pick and drop people off nearby.
If an Uber driver gives off a particularly good vibe, you can hire one off-the-books for several hours to run a number of errands if you don't have a car.
A few hours generally costs about 250 pesos ($15 U.S.). I line up a few errands that don't take more than 15 minutes a shot and send the driver for a cup of coffee if there's a kiosk nearby. They couldn't be happier.
Uber. Just one more reason to create a second life in Mexico
(not a paid endorsement. I should ask.)
Related links: How Uber and Lyft make living a part-time expat life an easier reality - Ventanas Mexico.
The best methods for making Uber and taxi rides an effective method to practice your Spanish - Ventanas Mexico
Next up: Under the topic of cultural assimilation, how can mariachi music possibly be sexy I asked myself? The answer is always in the hips.
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Hola - I'm the author of the "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online," a guide that is probably the most fun you'll ever have learning a new language. I learned real conversational Spanish at 55 years old for free. So can you. Check out the Guide.
Also take a look at "If Only I Had a Place" a guide to renting in Mexico (It's different).