Published: November 25th 2006November 24th 2006
We finally got a picture of a Mennonite, former Dutch/Germans (a bit like the Hamish) who have settled in Mexico and Belize
After 5 nights in Tulum it was time to move on yet again. Our next stop was Playa del Carmen, where we had heard it was pretty touristy and as we arrived we quickly saw this was true. Everything is written in English and everyone speaks English...and all the shops have their prices in US Dollars, just to make it that little easier for the tourists I guess...not that the exchange rate is a tough calculation, but whatever.
We found a hostel opposite the bus station in the main street, which we quickly opted for especially since our backpacks were getting heavier at every stop and we didn't feel like walking around for very long :) And it also had a gorgeous roof terrace with views of the sea and Cozumel in the distance. We strolled around the main street and checked out some of the diveshops to see what kind of deal we could get on a discovery dive (neither of us have our PADI qualifications so this was our only option). The deals we found were not great and heading over to Cozumel would cost 22 USD for a return which we thought was pretty silly anyway considering
we were definitely on a smaller budget now. So we returned to the roofterrace and had a beer, and enjoyed the sunset. That night we decided to check out the party scene in Playa, which is the liveliest we have come across so far. We went with two Canadian guys from our hostel which was great because we were able to walk down the street without every salesman first saying "Hey girls, come into my shop. Just have a look" and as we say "No Thanks" move onto "How about a Mexican boyfriend for a night". So this was a nice peaceful evening with no guys harassing us!!! We first had some cocktails on the terrace of a rock cafe called "The Yellow Submarine" (classy) and then went to Ladies Night, which is also Salsa Night, at the main disco in town, the even classier "Captain Tequila". This place is strongly inspired by the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (flags, and other pirate ship props) and even uses the trailer for their opening video. Us ladies didn't pay cover or anything for drinks, but then the club was completely empty when we came in so we figured they were desperate.
It filled up after a while and we watched the live band and some salsa dancing before checking out other clubs...which were a little too flashy for us so after one drink we decided to call it a night and get some sleep. The next day we went to the beach which was the most crowded beach we have seen so far (still not terribly full but I wouldn't want to be here in high season).
We decided Playa del Carmen was nice for a bit but not really our scene, so that night after another great local dinner (burrito with barbacoa meat and not much else, cheap and tasty!!) we decided that the next day we would head to Isla Mujeres.
We took our last bus of the trip (You'll find it's either really hot and sticky on the bus or if you're going 1st class, freezing cold due to the strong air-conditioning...which it was in our case). Back in Isla Mujeres we found that it had cooled off a LOT since our last t ime here 6 weeks before. There was a cold front coming toward the island causing hurricane style winds. There were waves in the
previously still water and when we tried to lie on the beach we were soon covered in sand (especially when you've just put sun cream on). This lasted for the next few days unfortunately. When the sun was out we tried to suntan a bit, by getting sunbeds and hiding behind a hut where the wind was a little less, the sun often didn't stay for too long, then the clouds came. We decided we couldn't read books all day, so the second day we rented bikes and cycled around the 7.5km long island. This was easy going one way......and quite strenuous going back!! We visited a turtle farm where the eggs are protected to make sure that the turtles won't become extinct. We rode until Punta Sur where there is a tiny Mayan ruin and some art work but mainly some beautiful views. While cycling back (you could almost say we were cycling on the spot) there were some very fancy holiday homes, and right next to that, a small neighboorhood of shacks, quite the contrast.
While cycling we passed the Dolphin Discovery grounds and because we thought we might not be able to dive, maybe we would
be able to swim with dolphins instead. We went to get some information about the dolphins but found out this was much more expensive and then we actually got a pretty great deal on a discovery dive with two dives so we decided to go for it, two days before our departure!! What a great decision that was!!
After watching the introduction video, getting our gear and explanations, we were off to the reef near Punta Sur and ready for our first dive. Almost straight away, we saw a turtle and a sting ray...wow. Again beautiful corals but a completely different experience than seeing everything when snorkeling, now we were really in between everything, surrounded by it and fishes all around us. With the second dive we felt even more comfortable and we were left to swim pretty freely as we wanted to, again another sting ray and turtle and apparantly a nurse shark but we missed him as another scuba group passed (what are the chances in the underwater world...). This day was the warmest and least windy so far, lucky for us! We were able to sit on the beach without being completely blown away :)
watched our last beautiful sunset on the island and had dinner at Sancochos Grill, where we could be found pretty much every day (not to watch American Football like most of the others there but for the cheap drinks and nachos, yum!).
The next morning we headed for Cancun and found ourselves a much better deal than last time (we realise at the end of our trip that we were paying WAY too much for our room at our first hostel). We then wanted to find a restaurant where we could have a Thanksgiving dinner....walking all around downtown and to the Plaza de las Americas (a huge mall which a restaurant owner had suggested, why, we really don't know, it's just shops and a food court). Well, we had our exercise for the day and we ended up having a delicious Italian dinner downtown. At the hotel we had our last Pina Coladas while watching some good American TV and got ready for our flight the next morning at 8pm!!
The end of our amazing trip...one that we will not be forgetting for sure!
There are more photos below