Mention Playa del Carmen and instantly you think of tourists frolicking around in all inclusive resorts or getting wasted at Coco Bongo. However, my experience was quite the opposite as I was fortunate to become good friends with Sarah and Tyrhone, expat locals who showed me the different side of Playa.
I felt that it was a good time to leave Merida and that I was well rested and made progress with the blog. I had original intentions to go to Holbox Island to see the whale sharks but turns out that the season had not started yet where you can be guaranteed to swim with them. So there I was left with a dilemma. Do I still go or do I head to Playa? I checked the bus time table and the result made my decision a no brainer. An overnight bus ride to Chiquila followed by a ferry ride would probably be the straw that would have broken the camels back. I was over long bus rides and decided that the five hour (and a straight road with no speed humps) ride to Playa del Carmen was the better option.
Originally a sleepy fishing town of 1500 inhabitants in the 80’s, Playa has seen that number increase to over 50,000 to cater for the booming tourism. The irony is that Playa del Carmen never was a Mayan region that was invaded by the Spanish. Instead, it’s now been subjected to an invasion tourist and investment from all corners of the world to frolic in her warm turquoise waters.
The day after arriving I had arranged to meet Sarah and Tyrhone who I had been chatting to online as I was getting this blog up and running. After a year of traveling through Asia and Mexico, they have have found their groove and place in the world in Playa. Before I arrived I did put forward a challenge for Sarah to find me the best places to eat. For the following week, she was leading the charge we spent time walking to all the local food haunts but also visiting cenote’s (Sarah’s done an amusing review here), cooking dinner parties and also fitting in a trip to the movies. Other friends had suggested hitting certain clubs and bars but I wasn’t feeling it at the time and at 50 peso for a beer, it wasn’t fitting into my long term travel budget.
Pretty much all of the places we ate out at were the local haunts where locals and families would eat ate at. Some were so local that there was an absense of signage so I could not tell you the name of the places we went to. Also some of the places we ate were establishments that we walked past on the way to another eatery.
We did hang out quite a bit in the end I was surprised they didn’t get fed up with me. We talked a lot about traveling, blogging and settling down in the one place. Sarah’s blog was one of the first ones I bookmarked when I started researching for the trip and it’s been a great resource. I was also keen to get their view on how they felt one month into their trip a year ago like the situation that I’m in now. I wonder if I’ll ever go back to the normal life by the end of the twelve months?
Anyway, I could keep on writing about my time in Playa: the drinking, food, rooftop dinner parties, snorkelling in Cenotes and seeing rays and turtles at Akumal, scuba diving along reefs and cenotes. There’s so much to cover, I could go on and on so I’ll let the photos do the talking and do more specific specific posts on the highlights of the area in the coming weeks. Yes, most of those activities are still touristy and I highly recommend them as they are unique to the area, but if you’re after good local food experience then you only have to walk two blocks away from the souvenir shops spruikers on Fifth Avenue or any tourist destination in the world to find the tastiest and cheapest grub.
A big shout out to Tyrhone who did help me redesign my site. It’s looking pretty sexy don’t you think? His design business is at www.eyepudding.com so if you need something created at an affordable rate then he’s your man.