I arrived from the airport at Hostel Rio Playa where I would be staying for the next four days in Playa del Carmen. A quick stroll from the beach the hostel features a great rooftop patio and bar. Definitely a hostel for the party friendly traveler (if you hope to sleep easily during your stay best to find another place to sleep as most guests wake at 1pm and go to bed at 5am). I explained the rather rancid travel morning I had experienced on my way from YYZ to CUN to the gentleman at the front desk. He checked me in quickly and told me he would be on the look out for my bag once it arrived the following day.
The day was actually pretty overcast so I skipped a visit to the beach and decided to focus my attention to surveying the main strip and feeding myself.
My first Mexican meal was at the award winning Yaxche which specializes in high end Mayan classics. I ordered a bottle of Montejo beer and sampled the following:
Nachos served with a trio of dips: garlic cream, pumpkin seed sauce and spicy green salsa.
Panuchos: fried handmade tortilla stuffed with refried beans and topped with shredded turkey, avocado and seasoned onions.
Pibxcati: two grilled peppers filled with cochinita pimbil and cheese and topped with red onions.
I spent an hour or so enjoying my flavor filled meal whilst listening to a wandering mariachi band and watching American tourists being pestered by men selling cigars and jewelry made of shells on the street. During my meal I could also overhear the conversation between the couple sitting beside me. A young blond Canadian girl (from Ottawa) sat with an older Mexican man (he looked plus 50). The conversation was so awkward. It was clear it was their first date and she no longer wanted to be there. He spoke very poor English and at one point I overheard him tell her “you make me laugh so much, when was the last time you had a happy time?” For about three minutes she questioned him on what he meant by happy time. She soon found out when he bluntly impersonated an orgasm at the table. I chocked on a nacho and smiled. She turned red like my spicy salsa.
After spending a leisurely time walking along the main street north of the beach I arrived back at my hostel, walked up onto the outdoor patio, grabbed a beer and met a gang of friendly travelers from around the globe. We all decided to head to one of those classic overpriced tourist trap restaurants (which you have to visit at least just once to say you have done it). We ate at the open concept restaurant La Parilla Mexican Grill.
The majority of the people at the table ordered extra large margaritas which apparently tasted just like tequila and ice (served in massive neon coloured beakers). I ordered a pina colada and munched on nachos, salsa and guacamole between slurps of my bowl of Mayan Lime Soup (chicken consome flavored with lime and topped with fried tortilla.
After dinner we walked down to Calle 12 where all of Playa’s notorious massive open concept bars and clubs are located. Every 20 meters we were asked by toothless Mexicans if we wanted drugs (we were offered weed, cocaine and acid during our first ten minute stroll). We spent the evening at Playa’s most popular beach club, The Blue Parrot. The large bar features swings instead of bar stools so you can literally hang out with your bartender. The DJ’s were alarmingly old (they looked almost 60). Tourists danced on the beachfront dance floor and local Mexican men took over the elevated catwalk in front of the DJ stage. Mexican woman spent the evening walking around the bar with large slender balloons. I noticed whenever they liked a foreign man they would poke them with their balloons in an attempt to get their attention. A rather intense fire show takes place on the beach every evening which features about six flame throwers and jugglers.
The following morning I got a chance to talk to a few Aussie’s who had been staying at the hostel for a while. They filled me on on the odd ball gossip. The woman sleeping directly beneath my bunk was a young (late 20’s) pregnant American. Apparently she had issues with drugs two years ago and had her passport confiscated by Mexican authorities. She is now not able to leave the country. Rumor was that she stayed at the hostel for free. After spending four days here I quickly noticed all Preggers habits. She regularly stole other guests food from the fridge, spent the entire afternoon on one of the two hostel computers asking different organizations via email for money. She also had incredibly odd social behavior. I saw her once talk to a man for thirty minutes who wasn’t even looking at her and had iPod earphones in his ear. She would ramble on forever about the most ridiculous mundane things. I luckily avoided much of her banter as I informed her I was deaf so she didn’t really try to actually communicate with me. The other wack job at the hostel was an older American man (bald, slender and thick spectacles). He had apparently been staying at the hostel for an age. He spent every day sitting on the hostel patio drinking a 2L bottle of Coca Cola while listening to his iPod and staring at a wall. He spent the evenings sitting beside young Scandinavian and British girls tying to get to know them, he’d rub their backs and put on his lack luster charm (spread thick). It was always funny to notice how the woman reacted. They were also receptive to his conversation and without fail avoided him the following day like the plague (often to his embarrassment). In my last night at the hostel I made sure to actually warn new female travelers to avoid sitting beside him.
After breakfast I walked out into a beautiful sunny blue sky day and headed directly to the Walmart up the street (can you believe it?!) I still hadn’t received my luggage and only had the jeans and t-shirt that I arrived in. I purchased a swimsuit, a few toiletries and a few apples and cookies to be consumed over the next few days at the beach. I then walked to the ADO bus terminal where I purchased all of the bus tickets I would be needing during my week in Mexico. After purchasing my tickets I headed to the beach and walked barefoot along the sand. I looked out across the water to the Island of Cozumel which I could see in the distance. Slick high speed ferries transport sun burned tourists back and forth all day.
After a few hours toasting it up on the beach I headed to two restaurants for lunch. I enjoyed a Pork Quisadilla with cheese at 10 Quekas followed by a Gordita with chicken and spinach cream at Madrez. After lunch I popped by O Natural Spa and enjoyed a 27 USD one hour massage. After I received a proper greasin’ and teasin’ I walked back to my hostel to discover that my luggage had arrived. I was elated it practically felt like Christmas! I quickly switched into my favorite t-shirt and swimsuit and joined my two friends from Argentina at Mamitas Beach Club to spend the afternoon and watch the sun set. This stretch of the beach is located past several of Playa’s most beautiful All Inclusive Resorts. Mamitas is known around town as the best place for the young and hot Euro Trash travelers to get drunk all day and chill on the beach in style. The beach is filled with Queen sized beds framed with hanging white linens, truly a stunning spot to spend your day on the beach. A DJ plays House Music all day and night and servers bring tourists food and drink. It’s just like having your own little man servant on the beach. I grabbed a few bottles of Sol and dug myself deep into the sand and watched the sun set across the horizon.
In the evening I headed back to Madrez for a huge burrito stuffed with beef, tomato rice and refried beans. I spent the evening drinking beers on the patio with hip hop dancing Brazilians, sexy Scandinavians, just for laughs Brits and Aussies and a few cute Mexicans. I made friends with a loverly Israeli guy as well as his two older British female friends (who had met him a few weeks earlier in Puerto Vallarta. We all headed to Playa’s Gay Bar, Club 69 for the evening where we enjoyed a rather hilarious tranny song and dance show. Getting into the bar was rather hilarious as apparently the evening we arrived it was a men only night. Our 34 year old female British “fruit fly” threw a scarf around her neck (to hide her lack of Adams Apple) popped on massive sun glasses and with a low voice informed the bouncer that she was a Drag Queen from London (with her thick accent from Bristol).
The following day I spent the afternoon in front of Fusion Beach Club at Calle 6 with friends totally falling asleep after my late night of partying into the early morning. The lingering odor of coconut sun tan lotion complimented my iPod sound track nicely. I finally rose from my beach towel when my stomach growled. I walked to the ADO bus terminal where Playa’s best street food stands are located. I bought a few beef tacos which I devoured at a near by park with a can of 80 cent beer.
In the evening I headed to Playa’s hottest boutique hotel Basico with my friend from Denmark. The hotel lobby floor is made entirely of tire treads. We took the artsy meets industrial elevator up to the rooftop patio where we bought a bottle of Corona and found a big comfy bed propped up by huge white pillows. The patio features great views of the busy main street below and a DJ who spins House beats.
Once the sun had set we headed to a back street a few blocks away. We found a classic local eatery (plastic chairs and tables) called Taquerina Los Portales on 10th Avenue at Calle 6. I ordered a Taco Puerco Barbacoa and plate of Chilaquiles (nachos tossed in marinara and topped with roast chicken, beans, rice and cheese).We were serenaded by a Mexican who sang U2 ballads rather poorly.
My final day in Playa was spent under a shady palm tree on the beach (I was desperately trying to avoid a burn). I spent a few hours jotting down ideas in my journal. I first started with writing a business plan for this blog. Later in the day I wrote a random list of all of the things that make me happy (the first things that came to mind were scribbled down on one sheet of paper). I set a few goals myself for the year and used these few hours of relaxation on the beach to clear my head.
I ate a late lunch as the sun was setting. I decided to return to Taquerina Los Portales for a plate of Encheladas de Mole and Taco Puero. I returned back to my hostel to pack my things for my bus which would be departing early in the morning. My time in Playa could easily be summarized as: days in the sun and evenings and early mornings out on the town dancing under the stars. I figured I needed a little time away from this hyper-sociable space to enjoy a bit of time to contemplate on the solo. I plugged in my iPod and walked down to the beach in the pitch black. I walked a few feet from the shore and plopped myself into the sand. I crossed my legs and stared out at the twinkling lights shining over the Island of Cozumel. The stars sparkled in the sky and I closed my eyes and sunk my fingers in the the sand.
I switched the ballad Acapella by Kelis to repeat on my iPod and had a solo dance party on the beach under the stars, splashing my feet in the low tide and eventually skipping my way all the way back to bed.