Yucatan travel guides always caution you to beware of travelling after dark because "banditos" may stop your car, and rob you. I’ve never personally experienced this, and I’ve driven over most of the Yucatan now, nor have any of the tourists or resident foreigners I’ve spoken to over the years. I don’t know what it’s like in other parts of Mexico, but the Yucatan appears to be relatively safe.

In fact, the only banditos I’ve ever encountered were the operators of the Pemex gas station on the eastern edge of Xpujil in the southern part of the peninsula. These characters have a virtual monopoly on gas in the area, since it’s approximately 150 kilometres to either Chetumal or Escarcega where the next gas is. Diane and Rick at Rio Bec Dreams are convinced they’ve rigged the pumps to overcharge when you’re not looking. I believe them! On one occasion I drove up and asked for 200 pesos of fuel, which added just 1/4 of a tank to my vehicle. I knew, having filled it from empty twice, that it took about 450 pesos to fuel the vehicle completely. On another occasion, having been burned once, I asked the attendant to fill the tank, and left my electrics in the car turned on so I could watch the needle reach the full mark. When I heard the pump "click", I jumped out and asked "Es todo?" and noted that the pump showed 170 pesos owing. At this point, another attendant came over and very seriously told me that the air in my front tire was low. While I was distracted, the other fellow "topped up" my already full tank with another 100 pesos (approximately US $10) worth of fuel.

It’s a tough scam to beat, because we’re conditioned to believe that the pump is fair. My brother-in-law Dave started shouting at the guy when it happened to him, and the attendant backed off and pumped more fuel in at no charge.