Friday, January 17, 2014

How to get to the Marieta islands

On our recent trip to Sayulita, our friends recommended we check out the Marieta islands for the amazing hidden beach that you have to swim into.  Unfortunately, we were there during a busy time of year and all of the chartered boats companies in Sayulita were sold out.  It is actually a good thing because it turns out they tend to oversell their boats and pack people into them. Also, Sayulita and Puerto Vallarta are pretty far from the islands. That's a whole day trip right there.  Asking Google for directions only just came up with these commercial companies, we thought we weren't going to get to go.

So, instead of playing that game, we drove to the small town of Punta Mita, which is the closest town to the islands.  We had a good lunch at one of the local places and then started walking down the main strip.  Within 5 minutes someone approached us and offered to take us out on a private tour for a decent rate.  I'm sure the price was somewhat inflated for the gringos, but whatever, we had the whole boat to ourselves and it wasn't going to take all day.

On the way out to the islands, we saw a bunch of humpback whales... the guy who offered the boat up gave a money back guarantee that we'd see whales. I guess we were paying for sure now.

Once we were at the island, they anchored the boat, we jumped in the water swam through the cave to the beach in and we hung out for a while on the sand and people watched.  After we swam back to the boat, we drove around the entire island, saw another cave (no beach) and got sprayed by swells hitting the rocks.

Unfortunately, we didn't see any more whales on the way back as the day was pretty much over.  That said, it was an excellent adventure and I'm really glad how it all worked out.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

After all these years, I still write Java code...

I wish I had another hand so I could give Scala three thumbs down!

"New languages are indubitably exciting to learn and play with, and everyone is interested in improving upon what we already have. Sometimes it appears that languages like Scala or Clojure or Ceylon are the fix that the Java ecosystem needs to improve productivity and obtain that linear scalability that simply doesn't exist with traditionally written Java applications. But the fact is, Java, despite some misgivings, is a well thought out language that is both powerful and consistent, making it easy to learn, and more importantly, easy to maintain. Sure, new systems will appear that will try to knock the crown off the Java language, but for now, the want-to-be emperors of the JVM are increasingly being shown to be wearing no clothes."

Pretty much exactly how I've felt all along.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Rental Car Insurance

I recently took a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with my wife and rented a car for our 8 day stay. I had done the research in the past with regards to insurance and knew that as long as I use my VISA card, I should decline any extra coverage that the rental car agency offers. It turns out that in Mexico, you need at least one basic level of coverage called SLI or SAI insurance. This covers you against damage to someone else. This ran us an extra $115 on our bill. If we had gone for their full inclusive insurance, it would have been an additional $300! Way more than we paid to rent the car.

I've also read articles like this one that claim "Declining to buy the insurance (some of which is mandatory, anyway) is foolhardy to the extreme, but buying the full package without knowing what you're buying is only slightly less so." The article must be out of date or I got bad information from the person at the rental counter, but the SLI/SAI insurance was mandatory.

Well, to make a long story shorter, our brand new rental car got a nice big scratch on the side of it...

In the US, this would cost probably $1000-1500 to fix. This had me worried that we would run into all sorts of trouble at the rental car company, so on our last day, we left a bit early to take care of things. I kept thinking, maybe we should have gotten the all inclusive insurance.

When we arrived, they noticed the scratch immediately, of course. They were very nice about it and simply asked for a copy of the original rental agreement through the 3rd party company that we got the car from. They asked me to write up an accident report detailing what happened. This was a simple sentence. Then, they told me the price for the damage... only about $89! I didn't argue it. I've opened a ticket with VISA and I expect they will pay it after some period of time.

This got me thinking... the rental car place must have their own insurance which covers mishaps like this. Why in the world would anyone go with the all inclusive insurance for $300+ when simple damage can be paid for relatively cheaply by the rental car company itself. Sure, there is probably a risk of total loss of the car, but that is super rare. Even still, VISA would cover it under their own insurance.

So, unless you don't have VISA coverage, don't fret not getting the extra insurance. I'm sure others have worse stories, but this one turned out pretty well for me.