A Message of Caution to Devcon Attendees

As a CEO of a company bringing decentralisation to everyday people and sponsors of Devcon 3, I was reminded last night of the harsh reality our movement faces from corruption. Arriving in Cancún airport in the late hours of the evening to prepare for the biggest blockchain development conference in history, my female colleague and I were victims of an aggressive backlash from corrupt centralised authority the moment we landed. This is the taxi industry.

This article is to set out some basic security parameters for developers arriving on the shores of Zona Hoteleria over the coming days. Working as a volunteer welfare director for music festivals in my spare time, I ensure that the security and welfare for attendees is upheld to a standard. Having been on the receiving end of a potentially serious encounter I am compelled to share my experience with fellow conference attendees.

Upon arriving in Mexico after a 16-hour journey from Ireland, we were set to attend our first meeting that evening at Mandala nightclub where we will launch a free open-bar event for Devcon attendees (register here). With no time to lose we grabbed our bags and proceeded to the exit. After pressing the red button at customs and being welcomed to Mexico, we immediately ordered an Uber and waited outside for its arrival. Having been all over the world, I am well used to taxi’s and merchants pushing their business on me and each determined face was kindly responded with a smile and “non gracias amigo”. As it turned out a local taxi to drive us to our hotel would be $690 Pesos while the Uber was quoted as $190. As the consumer I have the choice to choose a cheaper service but more importantly a p2p service that does not require me to exchange my euro through another centralised middleman. What followed next was unforgivable.

As with most taxi ranks, Uber drivers are not permitted to collect passengers from convenient places — our centralised middlemen clinging to straws and attempting consumers to choose the convenient option. As an everyday user of cryptocurrency since 2013, my first choice is not often the most convenient one. We received a phone call from the driver and he gave us clear instructions where to find his car. As we walked he warned me not to be followed from the rear or from the front. Keep this advice in mind if you choose to use an Uber so the rest of the story doesn’t end badly for you as it did with us.

I kept my poker face as taxi’s hailed and shouted at my colleague and I until we noticed that we were followed by two taxi driver’s claiming to be airport security. As we tried to lose them they understood we were looking for an Uber driver. In a fit of rage, the taxi driver shouted at my female colleague warning that “things would get messy” for us if we didn’t take a regular taxi. He then ran towards a random parked car on the street and warned us he would “kick the shit out this guy if it turns out to be an Uber”.

Shocked and terrified, we hurried back to the airport entrance where taxi drivers were now summoning the police who seemed sympathetic for their cause to maintain their monopoly over a dying taxi industry. As we were escorted by a female security from the airport itself (the only person helping in the situation) and walked towards the buses, the men threatened us to never come back to Cancun or we would face repercussions.

What is happening?

We asked ourselves this question throughout the entire encounter. It is clear to me that we were presented with the crudest form of protectionism by the old paradigm and it was apparent that these people will stop at nothing, even if it is to assault and violate another person. Or worse.

My female colleague and I are both millenials who fully adopt p2p technology in our everyday lives. These were grown men in blue shirts hurling every kind of insult and racial slur known to them, to which we calmly replied we are Irish and not American at all.

Rationalising with these people is futile. It is better to pretend these pushers don’t exist or they will harass you even if you politely decline. Absolutely do not travel alone as a young female. This advice was reiterated by our hotel manager.

Please be careful during the conference. The airport is only the first experience we had of Cancun. Imagine if alcohol had been involved during this incident. It terrifies me to think of scenarios that may have played out

If you are travelling by Uber, you must state clearly that your friend is picking you up. At international arrivals, take an immediate left when you exit and pass through the fake airport security and taxi pushers. Your Uber driver can pick you up at the end of the car park under the control tower.

The Ado bus will take you to the main bus station in the city of Cancun which costs $79 pesos. There is a regular bus transfer from here to hotel zoneria for $12 pesos. In total this will take about 45 minutes and it is the cheapest and safest option.

If you choose to support the taxi pushers for the convenience of bringing you directly to your door then you will expect to pay $690 pesos for a 20 minute drive. Just don’t mention Uber and only withdraw cash from an official bank atm.

Our hotel required that they take a scan of our credit card. For those of us concerned about security, this is clearly a no-no! Essentially your credit card displays your private key and a photo is all a scammer needs to deplete your bank account. After explaining to the hotel manager that we live in an era where we cannot trust banks or databases storing our credit card information, not in fear that their staff are dishonest but because hacking credit cards is a very common practice, they made an exception. My t-shirt from Devcon 2 clearly explained to them that I am here attending a developer conference and know what I’m talking about.

Remain true to your values and above all be safe! Since taking advice from locals, we have otherwise had a very enjoyable experience. We hope to see you around Cancún and at the conference.

Festy team.