2016 IWGS Symposium Frequently Asked Questions
1) What’s the best way to get to Merida?
The easiest way is to fly directly into Merida. You probably won’t be able to find a non-stop from outside of Mexico, most flights into Merida change in Mexico City, but it’s typically an easy transition. You have to accompany your bags through Customs when you arrive in Mexico. Whether you carry on or check your bags, you bring them to Customs with your declaration, pass through and either re-check or take them to your gate for the short flight to Merida. United and American do offer direct flights from the US into Merida, but apparently only a single flight on Saturdays.
2) Is there a recommended airline?
Airlines that have a Mexican partner typically streamline the transfer process. For example, Delta and Aero Mexico are partners that share the same terminal, which makes it easy to transfer from International Arrivals to the flight to Merida. We landed, walked down a long ramp to the baggage area, got our checked luggage from the carrousel and wheeled the bags across the room to Customs. The system there consists of random screenings for mainly agricultural contraband. We were waved through after pressing a button that determines whether or not your luggage will be randomly screened. When we got a green light we simply redeposited the luggage on a belt 30 feet away, then walked upstairs and down the hall and boarded our flight. Other airlines may require you to change terminals but free transportation is provided between the two Terminals in case you have to transfer from Terminal 2 where most international flights come in to Terminal 1 where other domestic flights go out.
3) There are more flights offered into Cancun, can I fly there and take land transportation to Merida?
There are far more options to fly into Cancun, but bear in mind you will arrive in another state some 300km/180 miles from Merida. Unless you rent a car, which can be both costly and inconvenient because of parking, tolls, tickets and the very liberal Mexican interpretation of the rules of the road, you will have to find your way to Merida via the excellent but Spanish-only bus system.
4) Where and how can I get a bus from Cancun to Merida?
From Cancun International Airport you would want to get on the first class ADO bus that leaves from the airport. Ask for the Fiesta Americana as your destination in Merida. The last bus that gets you to the Hotel in time for the dinner on Tuesday Oct 25th leaves the airport at 1:30pm and costs around 650 pesos, about $40. If you’re arriving earlier than Tuesday morning, take a taxi to the main ADO bus terminal in the city center and plan on leaving for Merida before 1:30pm Tuesday to get to Merida on time for the opening dinner and concert. Buses leave every half hour all day. There are three classes including a Platinum where the seats fold down into beds, but that’ll cost an extra 10 bucks. The ride takes about four hours, but all the buses are comfortable, with a bathroom, air conditioning and Wi-Fi. You even get a drink and a snack when you board. Once you arrive at the Fiesta Americana, a large hotel and bus stop near the city center in Merida, it’s a $4 taxi ride to the hotel Gamma El Castellano.
For more information, see: http://www.ado.com.mx/ado/index.jsp
Please note, "On-line Bus Schedules can be found at ADO. The website is ONLY available in Spanish and you can only buy tickets online if you are a Mexican resident. As of now the ONLY way to purchase ADO Bus Tickets is in person at a terminal."
5) If I have to fly into Cancun, are there any other options than the public bus?
If at least 40 people fly into Cancun, and we know early enough, we can rent a private bus for the trip, from Cancun International Airport directly to the hotel, avoiding the taxi rides at each end and a whole lot of hassle. We would meet at the airport at noon, wheels up at 1pm sharp. The cost would be no more than $40, less than the ADO first class ticket plus taxi, and we’ll stop at a great little snack bar on the way. The catch is, we will probably have to make the arrangements before September 15th to secure the bus rental, so book early.
6) When should I fly in for the Symposium?
Merida is a regional capital served by Aeroméxico, Interjet, Volaris, United and American, so getting there isn’t a problem, but deciding when to arrive may present a challenge. Figure on booking your flight so you will arrive in Merida before 5pm on Tuesday Oct 25th, so you will have time to check in and relax before opening ceremonies start at 7pm at the Hotel Gamma El Castellano, where we will be staying.
7) Can I extend my stay at the same hotel, or are there other options?
The Hotel guarantees the same rate for one week before and after the Symposium, subject to availability, so you may wish to extend your stay. Please let us know when you register so we can help with your accommodations. In case there is no availability at the Hotel El Castellano, there are a number of smaller hotels in the area that are equally convenient that we can recommend.
8) What is there to do in the area if I decide to come early or stay later?
If you decide to come in early, there is plenty to see and do on the Yucatan Peninsula. The Riviera Maya to the east on the Caribbean coast offers all manner of water sports, fishing and diving the reefs, spelunking in limestone caves. The center of the Yucatan has cenotes and ruins, trekking in the jungle, Mayan culture and cuisine. The Gulf Coast to the north offers pink lagoons, flamingos and mangrove forests, sleepy little beach towns and some of the best seafood in the world. Merida is also the seat of the International Festival of Mayan Culture, FICMAYA, that runs from the 13th to the 23rd of October (and is hosted at our very hotel).
After the Symposium, you may decide to stay for the Day of the Dead October 31st. Although the celebrations don’t get quite as intense as in some of the more remote areas of the country, there are tours of the cemetery where the family tombs are decorated with flowers, a Parade of the Defunct and lots of folks out and about on the streets of the Centro. For the adventurous, we are planning a waterlily collecting trip to the wild swamps of Campeche the weekend after the Symposium wraps up on Friday 10/29. Limited to 15 people, the trip will probably be strenuous, hot and dirty, and of course lots of fun if sourcing new genetic material is your kind of thing.
9) Can anyone help me with the arrangements?
Yes, of course. For assistance with booking a room for two people or extending your stay, please call Tish Folsom and let her know what you’d like to do.
For general information about the Symposium, please contact Demi Fortuna at email@example.com or at 631-827-7353.
For professional assistance in making the arrangements, Porfirio Suarez, a Merida resident and long-time IWGS member recommends the services of:
Ileana Díaz Ávila, director of Travelissimo Travel Agency
tel.#s 52 (999) 9445641, 52 (999) 9445662, 52 (999) 9445670
Outside of the country you will have to use the country code for Mexico, 011 and you may have to add a 1 after the 52, thus:
011 52 1 (999) 9445662