Playa del Carmen – What a Difference a Day Makes!
Waking up the next morning in the quiet, gorgeous condo we found the previous day through Airbnb.com, it was hard to believe that we had gone from such a ridiculous situation to such tranquility in just a few hours. The condo’s owner, who lives in Dallas, arranged for his local manager to meet us at the unit and let us “check in” at noon after high-tailing it out of the hip, young, trendy place where we clearly did not belong.
We quickly stocked up on staples for a weekend in Mexico. Beer, wine, some Scotch and munchies to nibble on. The one bedroom condo was beautifully decorated and came complete with a full kitchen, balcony, laundry, satellite TV and WiFi. The beach was literally one block away so we headed out as soon as we unloaded the groceries.
One of the great things about Mexico is that you can just wander down the beach and stop pretty much anywhere you like for a beer or Margarita, some chips and salsa, or something a little more substantial like fish tacos.
The food in Mexico is authentic and really quite different from what we are used to in the U.S. A flat taco (almost always made from corn) is about the size of a large fist. They are small but an order usually consists of 3 for about $3 US. The ingredients are what make them so special. The fish was caught that morning and everything else is amazingly fresh.
When you are satisfied and cool enough to head back out into the sun, just pick up your sandals and turn left or right. When you get hot again, stop at the next place for more refreshments. Everyone is in a bathing suit. No shoes or shirt required. Granted, most of us look much better with a shirt on rather than off, but plenty of both men and women looked just fine with their nipples to the wind.
All the hoopla we keep hearing about crime in Mexico is almost exclusively limited to the Northern border areas where the drug lords fight for their territory. Sure there is petty street crime anywhere tourists with money get lax and stupidly don’t pay attention to what they are doing or where they leave their wallets. But that is true of pretty much any city anywhere in the world. As long as you use common sense and don’t do stupid things, you will be perfectly fine in the resort towns in Mexico. Tourist scams like buying time shares may well cost visitors more lost money than street crimes.
After an afternoon nap and cocktail at the rooftop pool, it’s time to find whatever sounds good for dinner. Since it was my birthday, I opted for my very favorite seafood, lobster. Over the past several years we have had lobster and many restaurants in Playa. Most of those meals were pretty average and not as cheap as one might expect. This time we tried The Blue Lobster and had a delightful meal. Traveling is all about managing expectations.
Don’t go to Mexico in a coat and tie, expecting Four Season’s service. It doesn’t exist. Even the Ritz Carlton in Cancun is very laid back and unsophisticated. Save those expectations for New York, Miami or LA.
As long as you play the game and get into the local groove, it’s almost difficult to not enjoy your time in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Go with the flow and enjoy it for the fun beach town that it is. Of course, there are exceptions!