Strangers with Cameras
Once you get past all the pushy vendors, Playa del Carmen is quite delightful.
Martin and I spent four nights in the city of 50,000 people (and growing!) and walked away with several new friends. Playa is the place to be. Instead of going to Cancun, many people just go to Playa now. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the world.
Most of the action is along the beach (or playa in Spanish). Vendors are so friendly! Everyone wanted to be my amigo and give me a massage, or a drink, or a beach chair…the list goes on.
The beach is studded with high-end hotels and an extensive selection of shopping options.
We spent some time on the beach swimming and chatting with the locals. In the picture below, Martin was on his way to the water when a group of kids came up to him. He was skeptical since everyone wanted to sell us something, but soon he realized these kids were wanting to practice their English for school. They video recorded the conversation and had took notes while Martin spoke.
Restaurants studded Playa del Carmen throughout the city, but sometimes I just want to make my own food. Peanut butter tortillas were a common picnic lunch.
Our favorite meal was at La Cevicheria, just a couple blocks from our hostel. Everything tasted so fresh and was overflowing with vegetables. Ceviche is my new favorite dish. It is seafood marinated in lime juice and served with a fresh salad. If you love tangy dishes with vibrant flavors, ceviche is for you.
Just two blocks from our hostel was the Unidad Deportiva – an outdoor gym. I ran along the looping path while watching a youth soccer tournament, tennis lessons, rollerbladers, and an aerobics class enjoy the space. Plus, it was all free.
For Halloween, a few of us from the hostel went to the bar around the corner to celebrate. This place was hopping. A group of co-workers were commemorating their last night working together. They were having a great time and included us in some dancing. By the end of the night, several of them asked to have their picture taken with us.
To celebrate, Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) a group of us from the hostel painted our faces and went out downtown. It was packed, but I was surprised that not more people were dressed up. We saw many more people in costume on Halloween. Nevertheless, we did get some free tequila shots as a result of our costumes.
Our four day visit to Playa del Carmen resulted in meeting many strangers and making some new friends. It was a perfect way to get introduced to Mexico.