As Melanie mentioned, I went with Nick and Elena to the turtle area at Akumal one morning while she was attempting to convalesce.
It was a giant tourist trap but when we got there we considered ourselves lucky to get a parking space outside the pay lot (it helped that we were in their tiny rental car and not the Cruiser). There was a sign 10 meters away that suggested a taxi only zone, but given we were not the only private car parked there we considered ourselves in good shape.
Nick and Elena went out and snorkeled and I stood guard. When it came for my turn I elected to pass – having spent a bunch of time in the water the previous day and not being confident in my snorkel skills, I thought it would be best not to fight the hordes and the wind chop out there.
When we got back to the car and started driving away, Nick said he thought his tires were flat. Sure enough, both right side tires were absolutely empty.
Tempted to leave the car in the middle of the street in protest of the vandalism, we decided to pull back in and park to figure out what to do. Seeing the valve covers were missing, we figured the tires had been drained not slashed, and I started wandering around hoping for a bike shop.
When I looked stupid enough (didn’t take long), one of the locals took pity on me. “You look lost, amigo,” he observed. When I related what our situation was, he said, “the taxi drivers, they think they own Akumal.” (I thought, yeah, they think they own most places they operate – or maybe PTSD from driving all the time has made them loco.)
So we were dealing with angry taxi drivers. Lovely scam, because they would be the easy ticket out of there obviously. But my new best pal had a suggestion: “Go to the dive shop, tip them, and see if they will bring a tank out to fill your tires.”
Genius! One trip to the dive shop later and a generous tip for the very chill dude there that brought out the tank, we were watching tires inflate almost magically from a dive apparatus. (Hint: you have to shove the hose all the way down over the valve to create enough of a seal.)
We were pretty pleased because the whole thing took about 15 minutes instead of the half a day to call a car repair service. So, high tailing it out of taxi driver mafia land, we were in better spirits. We then stopped at a Pemex to get the tires inflated more precisely.
Of course, once the tires were set, we decided to get gas. The joke was on us, though…because the Akumal taxi drivers had also stolen the gas cap.