Monday, June 10, 2013

Mexico Part VII: Playa del Carmen (Take Two)


Day 1: Took the ferry into town from Cozumel. 156 pesos each. There was a live band on the ferry. We were a captive audience. Walked back to Club Yebo. Read our previous PDC trip report if you’re interested in info on the hotel. Our room wasn’t ready yet so we headed to La Parilla for cheap beer and not cheap Mexican food. My wife wasn’t hungry and I ordered fish tacos (130 pesos). I can get much better fish tacos in Hermosa Beach, California for half the price—at an Irish pub (though cooked by people from Mexico). But the restaurant has a nice vibe and is good for watching the folks on 5th avenue. Awesome green sauce. Room still wasn’t ready so we walked to Mega to get some supplies. We found some great deals there at the meat counter, ribeyes and filets. Excellent quality meat butchered right in front of you, and a lot less expensive than in the US. Then we checked into the hotel, grabbed the beach chairs from our room and sat on the beach. Cooked dinner in our hotel room.

Day 2: Spent the day at the beach, at the beach club associated with Club Yebo. $1 per person, and they don’t mind if you bring your own food and drink. Great deal. We arranged for a car rental the next day, so we could drive to Chichen Itza and Coba. They were supposed to meet me at the hotel, but never showed up. This was very disappointing since we planned the evening around dealing with the car and parking etc. Later at night we went to Deseo, an outdoor lounge above 5th avenue. Very nice.

Day 3: After going to Hertz and other rental car companies in the morning I became fed up with the rental car game and decided to skip the whole thing. Headed down to the beach club associated with Club Yebo. Had fish ceviche and guac for lunch, which was very good. Beautiful weather. That night we went to The Glass Restaurant/Bar for a nice dinner. Had a cheese platter and grilled octopus and a bottle of wine. Great meal.

Day 4: Took the colectivo to Akumal. This was a great day trip I would recommend to anyone staying in Playa del Carmen. We walked to the colectivo area on Calle 2 Norte between 15th and 20th Avenues. Caught a van immediately. They dropped us off at the Akumal exit ($3 USD each) and we walked over the bridge and into “town”. It’s a very short walk along a nice sidewalk. The place was very crowded, but we threw our stuff down under a palm tree, put on our mask and snorkel and swam out about a hundred yards. There were so many people in the water it wasn’t hard to figure out where to go. We immediately saw turtles and rays and eels and loads of fish. The water had a mix of sea grass, sand , and coral, each with its own set of creatures. Great experience. Sat on the beach. More sunscreen, and another trip into the water. Saw at least 8 turtles, some in ten feet of water. Then we had lunch at the taco shop next to the main popular restaurant. Good food. Caught the colectivo back on the road. No problem. Same price. Perfect excursion. Don’t miss this. At night we went back to the area where we caught the colectivo, since we’d noticed a lot of good local restaurants there. We ate at one called Restaurant Maquech. There weren’t a lot of choices. I had the beef special of the day, and my wife had the chicken special. Both were delicious and the price was right and the man who owned the place was chatty and interesting.

Day 5: Our last full day in Mexico. Fittingly, we sat at a beach club and drank beer. Then we had dinner at Burger King. We didn’t remember at the time, but on our last big trip, to Thailand two years ago, we ate at McDonald’s on our last night. Some kind of strange pattern.
Day 6: Woke up early (4 AM) and walked to the bus stop. It didn’t occur to me that this might be a bit of a sketchy situation. But it was dark and there were still clubs open with drunk people stumbling around. Easy targets. This was the closest I felt to unsafe on the whole trip. We walked the length of 5th avenue to the tourist bus terminal looking over our shoulders, realizing that we had everything with us. But there was no problem (at least with that). I’d bought our tickets for the 5 AM airport bus the day before, so we just took our seats and waited, and slapped mosquitoes…and waited. The bus never came. I went to the window and was told it was coming….it never came. Some people in the terminal had 7:15 flights. Ours was at 7:45. By 6:00 there was a general panic and the bus station employees didn’t seem too worried about it. We hooked up with two other travelers and took a taxi for 450 pesos, which was almost exactly the same cost as the bus ticket, per person. Everyone made their flights because those too, of course, were late.

The End. Great trip.

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