Well, after a crazy, displaced week of selling, packing, cleaning, storing, driving, visiting and Halloweening we’ve finally arrived in beautiful Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. The weather is hot, humid and simply wonderful.
To be completely honest, Micki and I only realized how crazy our previous week was as we landed in Cancun. What’s weird is that after having traveled for years together, when we walked out of the airport we were a little surprised to find ourselves in a foreign land. It all happened so fast that we weren’t prepared for the reality that this was going to be our life for the next 6 months.
Now many of you may laugh at the thought of a place like the Mayan Riviera being considered foreign, with its miles of white beaches and dozens of outrageous All-Inclusive adult playgrounds and, for the most par,t I’d be the first to scoff. However, unlike most people who come here, we’re not getting off the plane only to be scuttled to the free shuttle to begin our week (or two for the more fiscally strong) of beer guzzling, margarita swilling, beach chair hogging, overpriced, pampered, adventure guide following stay at a beautiful resort.
We all know (and admittedly I also love) those quickie vacations that rejuvenate our soul and make staying the winter in Canada somewhat bearable. For us though, that walk into humidity represented the first steps into a 6 month adventure that, admittedly, we spent less time planning than some of our overpriced last minute resort experiences. Sure, we’ve glazed over plenty of guidebooks about what to do and where to go but with 2 young kids, a contract quickly ending and that first line of this post to deal with we really haven’t mapped out our travels that much.
Once we walked through the green light go, red light please bend over, welcoming into Mexico we were on our own. So do we jump on a bus, take a taxi or take a mini shuttle? Will they drop us off at the condo we rented or will we have to walk or take a taxi once we get to Playa? (Playa is about 45 minutes south of the Cancun airport.) How much is it for each? How much is it worth it for us to be pampered a little after a 4 AM wake up call, a 5 AM entrance to the Calgary airport, over 4 hours flight to Houston with a 2 hour layover and then another couple hours to our destination with 2 small children in tow?
It will only cost us $65 US to take a taxi that will drop us off at the condo without much fuss (provided the taxi driver doesn’t try to scam us last minute) but nope, not good enough. That $45 extra buys us more than a few rounds of Coronas and you don’t go travelling for 6 months starting off that way. In the end we finally go the nice aircon bus route. Direct service to Playa for $20 all in. Cole should have cost us more but I gave the guy at the counter my best “please give me a deal smile” and he relented.
So within minutes we were aboard the nice shuttle bus and zigzagging our way to the next unknown. Namely, where the hell are we being dropped off and should we attempt to walk it to the condo or jump in the nearest taxi. Seeing that we were all nearly spent we grabbed the closest taxi to the door.
Small travel tip. The proportion of people trying to make a fast dollar from unsuspecting travellers is directly related to their proximity to the nearest airport, bus or ferry terminal. In short, if the guy asking you if you need a ride is first in line once you get out of afore mentioned area, the higher the odds that he’ll charge you double what the next guy would offer.
To that end, our driver charged us 50% more than the going rate but, at that point, I was fine with it. No, I didn’t let my guard down but it costs $2 US for all in town trips in Playa and seeing that he almost broke his back loading and unloading our luggage I thought I’d let him have his $3. What can I say, I’m a sucker for that “I have 8 wives, 40 children, 5 jobs and only days to live” haunted look most 3rd world foreign taxi drivers seem to pervade.
Anyway, we finally made it to stage one of this little post. The condo is a half decent size and in good shape and, best of all, the people all around us are great. There’s a nice pool literally 8 feet from our balcony and Cole has half a dozen Spanish speaking girls constantly chasing him. There’s the towns biggest food market literally a block away and tons of Italian eateries all around us.
Yup, you read that right, here we go all the way to Mexico only to be surrounded by Italians. The area we’re in is known to many as Little Italy. Seems there’s a large influx of Italian people making their way here.
In truth, Micki and I knew this beforehand. It was actually one of the many reasons we chose this area. In case any of you didn’t know, Mexican and Italian cuisine are our faves. After starving ourselves in the Philippines a few years ago we were starting this trip knowing that good food was only doors away. Tonight Micki made homemade bean burritos and salsa. Of course that was washed down with a few Coronas.
Yup, Playa has welcomed us with open arms and after spending the afternoon floating around in it’s crystal clear ocean and white sand beaches, we’re ready to start enjoying all it has to offer.
I’ll talk more about our place, the local dialect (too much Italian and damn, I need to learn better Spanish quickly), the food and the people in my next post.