Thursday, January 8, 2015

Parking your car in Mexico.

I have previously mentioned that when parking on the street in Mexico, look for yellow markings on the curb (NOT red), and be sure to use your steering wheel lock.  And if you can, give one of the parking attendants (yes you can find them on the street) a few pesos to watch your car.  But much of the parking in Mexico is in parking lots, either private or provided by a store.

Some of these lots charge, and some provide parking as part of their shopping experience.  But you will find in all of these lots, persons that either sit in a booth and charge you as you exit, or a group of people I will call 'whistle blowers' that meander around the parking lot and try to guide cars into and out of parking spaces.

Here are some of the current parking strategies.  At the entrance of Mega grocery stores, you will find a ticket dispenser.  You simply push the button and are issued a ticket.  Also at this time, a large arm raises to let your car pass into the parking lot.  Many of these lots are underground, and are excellent to keep your car dry during rain and cool during sunny weather.  Once you have completed your shopping, you must pay the cashier an extra 3-5 pesos for your parking.  Do NOT ever lose your parking stub because you will then have to probably pay for an entire day of parking - after you prove the vehicle is yours.

Soriana grocery store generally has outside free parking and so does Walmart.  Although Walmart sometimes is underground.  One difference in these two free parkings is that the 'whistle blowers' at Walmart have to pay Walmart to assist clients with parking.  Most other stores allow these people to wander their lots and make tips.  Some stores even give them a small amount of daily pay - not Walmart.

Many private lots have an attendant at the front gate and give you a stamped ticket when you enter the lot.  Don't lose this either.  In many cases these private lots are located near various types of stores, and they sometimes have an agreement with the stores.  The store will stamp your ticket, and you will then get a reduced rate of parking because you shopped.  Sometimes buying a 5 peso item can save you many pesos of parking.

Valet parking is available at many high end restaurants and hotels.  Make sure all valuables are out of the vehicle before you turn it over to the valet, and make sure to check your vehicle carefully before turning it over to them.  Also, when the vehicle is returned, inspect it again to make sure they didn't do any damage.  You may also want to make note of the fuel level and mileage, just in case they decide to take it for a joyride while you are eating.  This is where cell phone cameras come in handy.

Also a quick aside.  Airport parking is generally as secure as the lots mentioned above, but much more expensive.  For example, many of the parking lots in Cuernavaca or Mexico City are somewhere in the area of 10 pesos per hour.  The MC Airport charges 44 pesos for the first hour and 22 pesos for every hour thereafter - slightly higher.