Published: September 3rd 2010August 25th 2010
Within 15 seconds of arriving in Playa del Carmen I was offered drugs on the street, over the years this has happened many times but I have never taken up the offer. Ok, once, many years ago at the Notting Hill carnival, but that was a special occasion and the dealer accidentally dropped another bag which I ‘accidentally’ covered with my foot, in a flash he had merged into the crowd and his inflated price became a bargain! those were the days
….. Anyway, back to Playa Del Carmen… We had 4 days here and I was offered drugs constantly, people would use an excuse of selling something to me, like a hat or a tattoo, then when in close, reel off a list of drugs that would make a chemist proud, Playa del Carmen is obviously a party town!
We stayed in Casa Del Sol Caribe (450MXN), a nice enough little hotel on 5th Avenue, the main street in Playa. We had a king size bed, a separate little kitchen and a balcony overlooking the action. It was great to watch the street below, the constant stream of holidaymakers being coerced into shops and restaurants. It also took all
of 5 seconds to notice that the closed reggae bar nearby was being used as the drug depot. Maybe the police are turning a blind eye to these activities either that or I've been watching too much of 'The Wire'
Playa reminded me of a typical Mediterranean holiday destination, a nice enough beach, and a main tourist street that went on forever scattered with posh hotels, bars and restaurants. I can understand why this place is popular for a vacation, you can stay in a nice hotel, eat at some great looking restaurants and party all night in modern trendy clubs, all of which are probably slightly cheaper than back home. If it wasn’t for the souvenir shops reminding you that you were in Mexico then you really could be anywhere. Talking of souvenirs shops, these are the first I’ve seen in Mexico which are air conditioned and with all the prices in American dollars. There are even ATMs where you have to choose whether you want Mexican Pesos or American dollars, they want it as easy as possible for these rich Americans to spend their money
We joined in the vacation feel of Playa and
ate at a couple of lovely restaurants. Highlights being a tasty Fillet Mignon and a bottle of Italian wine at El Bistro at La Tortuga and an amazing hot chocolate and brownie at Ah Cacao. We also found a more reasonably priced place on the main drag which we visited a couple of times, a lovely fresh fish fillet in Mexican sauce, rice and veggies plus any local beer for 99 pesos. It was opposite this restaurant that we witnessed a perfect example of what happens when owners try and encourage potential customers. There was a little cul-de-sac containing about 9 stalls, each night the stall owners would stand at the entrance of their street and call out to people walking past in an attempt to get them to look at their goods. The problem is when all the stall owners do this, the nice little cul-de-sac is now blocked by a gang of shouting men, no stalls can be seen and everyone hurries past, avoiding eye contact so not to encourage even more barracking. The only time people would drift into their street was when they were closing up their stalls and thus leaving the entrance free. Sharon was
amused at how frustrated I got when watching this, I really wanted to point this out to them but hey what do I know, maybe they have their reasons. This whole coercing process is very common in the tourist areas and their patter soon becomes tiresome. We try not to be rude but sometimes you can’t help but completely ignore them.
The tiny waves in Playa del Carmen were a bit too much for Sharon and the whole touristy vibe is too much for me so we are off north to the most eastern part of Mexico. Isla Mujeres, our ray of hope.