Communications and Media
Mailing letters and postcards from Mexico is neither cheap nor necessarily reliable. Delivery times vary greatly, and letters get “lost” somewhat more than postcards. Letters (under 20 grams) and postcards cost US$1 to the United States and Canada; US$1.20 to South America; and US$1.35 to the rest of the world.
Ladatel—Mexico’s national phone company—maintains good public phones all over the peninsula and country. Plastic phone cards with little chips in them are sold at most minimarts and supermarkets in 30-, 50-, 100-, and 200-peso denominations. Ask for a tarjeta Ladatel—they are the size and stiffness of a credit card, as opposed to the thin cards used for cell phones. Insert the card into the phone, and the amount on the card is displayed on the screen. Rates and dialing instructions are inside the phone cabin. At the time of research, rates were US$0.10 a minute for local calls, US$0.40 a minute for national calls, and US$0.50 a minute for calls to the United States and Canada.
Note that calling a cell phone, even a local one, costs the same as a domestic long-distance telephone call (US$0.40/minute).
A number of Internet cafés offer inexpensive Web-based phone service like Skype, especially in the larger cities where broadband connections make this sort of calling possible. Rates tend to be significantly lower than those of Ladatel, and you don’t have to worry about your card running out.
If you’ve got an unlocked GSM cell phone, you can purchase a local SIM card for around US$15, including US$5–10 credit, for use during your trip. Calls are expensive, but text messaging is relatively cheap, including to the United States; having two local phones/chips can be especially useful for couples or families traveling together.
Beware of phones offering “free” collect or credit card calls; far from being free, their rates are outrageous.
Internet cafés can be found in virtually every town in the Yucatán Peninsula. Most charge around US$1 per hour, though prices can be much higher in malls and heavily touristed areas. Most places also will burn digital photos onto a CD or DVD—they typically sell blank discs, but travelers should bring their own USB cable.
Wireless Internet is also becoming popular at all levels of hotels; if you need to stay connected while you’re on the road and you’re willing to travel with a laptop, it’s easy—and free—to access the Internet.
The most popular daily newspapers in the Yucatán Peninsula are El Diario de Yucatán, Novedades Quintana Roo, and Voz del Caribe. The main national newspapers are also readily available, including Reforma, La Prensa, and La Jornada. For news in English, you’ll find the Miami Herald Cancún Edition in Cancún and occasionally in Playa del Carmen and Isla Cozumel.
Radio and Television
Most large hotels and a number of midsize and small ones have cable or satellite TV, which usually includes CNN (though sometimes in Spanish only), MTV, and other U.S. channels. AM and FM radio options are surprisingly bland—you’re more likely to find a good rock en español station in California than you are in the Yucatán.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition