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North America » Mexico » Quintana Roo » Playa del Carmen
December 5th 2018
Published: December 6th 2018
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Tulum to Playa del Carmen

We pack our bags ready for our 1pm bus journey to Playa del Carmen. We really have not seen much of Tulum as we haven’t felt well. But to be honest from what we did see, we didn’t like it much. Still, our accommodation has been a little haven. We have enjoyed the peaceful garden and it’s been nice to have had access to the kitchen area to enjoy some simple home cooking.

Our host hails a taxi and we are at the bus station within minutes. It’s not that far but it’s really hot now. The bus station is small and heaving. We manage to secure the last two remaining seats, but not before I have nipped to a chemist. Two bottles of cough medicine have not relieved the chest infections we both appear to have, so I am back at the pharmacy. I purchase two courses of antibiotics. This is not like any course I have ever been prescribed in the UK - three tablets only, one to be taken each day...and talk about huge!

Several buses come and go and, as usual, we don’t know the end destination so we have to ask as each new bus arrives. Finally, twenty minutes late, a Cancun bus arrives (it has been one of many) and the security guard shouts across to let us know it’s ours!

A pleasant one hour journey brings us to Playa del Carmen bus station. There are no Uber’s here so we are at the mercy of the bus station taxi cartel. They want 90 pesos (three times the going rate). We try to resist but they are all in cahoots so it’s pay up or walk. We pay up, especially since it has started to rain.

Our taxi driver is clearly not sure where we are going and asks for my booking confirmation with the address printed on it so many times that eventually he keeps hold of it.

We arrive in a decidedly deadbeat looking area. The taxi driver tells us that he ‘thinks’ we are here. Ian thinks he isn’t as he has plotted it on google maps. But it’s not far...Ian directs him to the address we have been given and we are dumped at the side of the road. There is no sign of our accommodation but Ian says it’s definitely the correct address. I go into a hotel (of a different name) to see if they have heard of it. It turns out that the property is located behind the hotel. I follow the lady through a long corridor.

A lady, who cannot speak English, thrusts a pad of post it notes in front of me. There are four names written on it but none are ours. I show her the booking confirmation. A phone call is made and the receiver is handed to me. It’s the property owner. He’s sorry, he made a mistake but he does have a room for us. Not on the ground floor, I ask, I really can’t cope with another cockroach incident. I can have the third floor (Ian’s going to be pleased). Well, first or second floor is also good, I suggest? No, the third floor one is best...but he must warn me that we are in the jungle. Yes, I know about the jungle but I still think the roaches are less likely higher up! What about the geckos? Oh, they are ok, I can cope with them...just not the roaches! He probably thinks I’m an idiot but never mind.

The lady shows us our room. Although simple, it’s all been nicely done with insect screens and double glazing and all freshly painted. It’s squeaky clean and we do have a fridge and a microwave as well as aircon and a large fan. It’s just the surrounding area that looks decidedly dubious! The swimming pool is also not quite as I had envisaged from the photographs. It is minute and appears to be shared with the other hotel. I suppose it might be ok for an end of day dip!

It’s 3pm. We haven’t eaten yet and we have already vowed that we won’t be going out after dark here. We need to find a restaurant so that we can eat. Why, oh why, did we book five nights here? We are feeling a bit vulnerable just walking around in the daylight here.

We pass a young man who says hello, he’s an American. Since he speaks English and has spoken to us, I stop to ask if he knows the area. He does indeed, he lives here...actually in the same road as us but a few blocks up. He assures me it’s very safe here but it’s an area under regeneration. You can say that again! It’s true that there are some very posh (and empty) looking apartment blocks going up. Maybe it will be nice in a year or so! He says it’s much better here than Centro (we shudder to think), and he gives us the names of four or five different restaurants that we might like to try.

We set off for La Junga restaurant. It’s a great place except they could do with some fans as the humidity here is excruciating. There’s a big outdoor area but as it’s just been raining heavily, the wooden seats are all soaking. It’s a real trendy place serving super healthy smoothies which taste delicious. We order pasta and that is also yummy. I think we are the only straight couple in here but they don’t seem to hold it against us.

After food we return for our beach shoes. It’s about an hour before sunset so we are going to investigate the shoreline before dark. There is a little sandy path which leads straight to the beach just a few metres down the road from our accommodation.

The sea is a dismal grey colour...not the turquoise waters that I had been expecting. There is also a good deal of seaweed - not my favourite, although it doesn’t appear to stink as it normally does. In terms of a day out tomorrow it’s not looking great. There is no natural shade and no sunshades or sun beds to rent. We will be burnt to a frazzle if we come here in the daytime!

We wander up the beach where we do find sunbeds and parasols but there are also security guards as they belong to a hotel. Oh well.

We return to the accommodation and the owner has turned up. We had been considering doing a runner but since he’s turned up I guess we had better cough up. We decide that if we still hate it here tomorrow we will just cut our losses and find somewhere else. But this time we will inspect it before we commit! The owner is very pleasant and gives us the low down on all the local places and what we should pay in a taxi. We were ripped off earlier, he tells us. Yes, we know! Apparently there is also a beach club where we can go to rent sun shades but it is full of party people and loud music. Here, it is ‘virgin beach’ - much nicer...he will lend us a portable sunshade. He also gives us information on the local cenotes. OK, the place might be growing on us.

So first, we can walk to a cenote by following the beach. It is only ten minutes walk. Is that a Mexican ten minutes or a real ten minutes, I ask? Oh, well yes, maybe it’s twenty minutes for you...and looking at you (I have sweat trickling down my face which I am busily trying to mop up with a facecloth)...yes looking at you, maybe you won’t be able to make it, he concludes. Cheers for that.

We retire to our room. It’s a race for the shower (third one this afternoon). And now there’s a knock at the door. The owner has come to deliver the sunshade and a bicycle lock...in case we would like to borrow a bike from downstairs...there are three.

It’s 7.30pm and bucketing with rain again. By 8pm we are in the midst of a humdinger of a tropical storm Which continues for hours. We will need to take extreme care on the outer corridor and stairs tomorrow - they are finished in highly polished ceramic tiles...lethal when wet!


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