Frustration Mounts for Tourists Stranded in Cancun

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CANCUN, Mexico - Hurricane Wilma is long gone, but those it left stranded on Mexico's Caribbean coast are fed up and ready to go home after spending the better part of a week in foul-smelling shelters. President Vicente Fox said getting tourists home — and getting others back by the start of the high season in December — was one of Mexico's highest national priorities, given that Cancun attracts so many visitors. On Monday, buses began ferrying hundreds of tourists out of Cancun to Merida, about 275 kilometres to the west, where they may be able to wrangle homebound flights. About 1,200 Americans and a busload of Britons were among the first evacuated by bus. Officials said they hoped to open the Cancun airport on Tuesday. Still, almost 30,000 tourists remained stranded along the resort-studded coast. "They should bring down transports. The conditions are getting worse, and people are going to start getting sick," said Tom Dinonno, 48, of Levittown, N.Y., as his wife, Karen, struggled to make a credit-card call from a Cancun pay phone. When the call finally went through after 20 minutes, they got their son's answering machine — and silent tears started to stream down Karen's cheeks. Mexico's main telephone company, Telmex, said three-minute local and national long-distance calls would be free through Wednesday from pay phones in the region hit by Wilma. Still, desperation was common across flooded, looted Cancun. A curfew was declared on Monday night, and police cars drove through the city, their lights flashing, with officers barking orders over loudspeakers for people to return to their homes. "People are desperate. They are nervous," Fox said.

He said the country's first priority was to get enough food and water to the coast, and he dispatched Mexican military ships, planes and trucks to bring supplies. He said the second priority was to get tourists home. "I feel the Mexican government is helping here to an extent, doing the best they can," said...
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