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Published: April 20th 2009
Getting from Cancún to Playa del Carmen was very easy through the ADO bus system here. The city is more central than Cancún in getting around the tourist destinations here in Quintana Roo. It is the ferry port for Cozumel, and close to Tulum. At the same time, it has a long history as a fishing town and has kept that industry along side the newer art scene and tourism developments. This city is especially popular with tourists and expats from Europe.
I went with Kane, an Australian I met in the hostel (staying in hostels is a good way to meet fellow travelers and make friends!) Walking towards the hostel, we were sent in wrong direction first, but I went into a scuba shop and talked to the owner, a German scuba diver, then turned around and had no trouble getting there. I was hoping for a bit of a mellow day, so was Kane, and we decided to head two blocks to the beach and relax! The sun was bright and strong (it is hot down here) but I sprayed on my sunscreen and laid on the sand, then swam out to the sandbars in the calm waves
(the ocean here is mellow and warm compared to that of CA). After sun drying, we walked 5th Ave., which is a busy shopping street closed off to cars. There must be more than a mile of shops and restaurants here, catering to tourists with some money. We were looking for a reasonably priced restaurant with some decent, more local food. Here there were plenty of places catering to tourists who wanted burgers, sushi, or just about anything you could think of, and all at crazy prices for Mexican standards. After walking for a ways we came to a place that had a nice seafood menu, and it wasn't as overpriced as some of the others. I was happy with the choice; the ceviche I had was amazing! Ceviche is a salad of seafood cured in lime juice, usually eaten with chips and a little salsa. This was by far the best ceviche I have ever had, with lots of tender octopus, conch, squid, and a bit of shrimp, with a fresh habenero salsa of course! Hot and sticky with sunscreen and sweat, we went back to the hostel, where I showered and changed and headed back to 5th Ave.
to check out the shops while Kane took a nap. I will say that there are some beautiful things for sale in this city. From simple cotton clothes to fancy shoes, there is a lot to look at. I tried on some lovely dresses, but I only bought a pair of sandals to replace the ones on my feet that had completely fallen apart (I put on my new ones right away and threw away the ones I was wearing - they were beyond repair now missing the bottom layers). These are cute lace up sandals I've never seen anywhere but here that will hold up in and out of the water - I picked out a few colors of laces to match my clothes.
I was a little tired of the commercial area of the city, so Kane and I headed inland down a busy street to find the shops and restaurants the locals frequent, which lucky for me, was easy to do. Passing little rundown shops selling everything from car speakers to cheap plastic toys, we settled down at a plastic table in a little shop that sold a variety of chopped up roasted meats to customers
in big plastic bags. I ordered us some horchata and tacos (I'm not really sure what kinds of meat I ordered), and we saw a very different side of Playa. On the walk back I bought a tamarind popsicle, which melted quickly in the heat as I ate it.
The hostel we stayed in was quite the party scene, with its very own rooftop bar, and another bar on the first floor. I met lots of travelers from all over the world, many of whom were staying in the city for a few weeks. There were few, if any, other Americans - lots of Germans, Australians, and Israelis. I met a group of Australian friends planning to head to Chiapas in a few days and decided to meet up with them there.
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