Saturday, November 5, 2011

Vamos a La Playa!

The sun is out, the sea is calm and clear, the beach is gorgeous, and we are happy :)

We've never been to a place quite like this. It is an extremely touristy town, but not just Americans. This is a hot spot for Europeans, Asians, and Mexicans. A couple we befriended were Ecuadorians living in Chicago (computer industry) here on vacation! Apparently the aggressive salesmen are not locals either . . . meaning they are not Mayan. The majority are from central or southwest Mexico, especially Mexico City. A Mayan-run store confided that these newcomers have ruined the tranquility of Playa Del Carmen, Riviera Maya, and Isla de Cozumel.

Private residence

Another less expensive private residence

It reminds me of Hawaii. The property is so expensive that the locals (or me) can't afford to live here. They all works 2 or 3 jobs and charge a fortune for everything. Let me give you some examples in US dollars so you don't think I'm exaggerating;

Starbucks coffee mug = 16.00
Negra Modelo = 4.00-6.00
One scoop of Ben and Jerry's ice cream = 8.00
Jet Ferry one way to Cozumel = 12.00 p/p
Cover charge for disco next door = 12.00 (45.00 all night w/drinks included)
T-Shirt 15.00
Fillet Mignon = 28.00
2 tank dive = 80.00
2 bedroom/2 bath condo next door to our little hotel = 800,000.00
Top floor/same floor plan = 1 million

Fortunately Joe and are used to living on the cheap and we share our meals. So those are the 2 negatives . . . moving on!

I'm in Disneyland/Las Vegas Mexican style. We don't go to cruise stop destinations, so this is probably normal. The streets are immaculate, the service is outstanding and shops are glittering. The restaurants are done in a combination of Italian and Carib. All are open air (except one English tavern on a back street). The seating sprawls out onto the sidewalk. Mariachi bands and an eclectic mix of solo artists roam the streets continuously.
Music is constant and everywhere. The other night we were sitting at a table people watching when an ancient, probably over 90 years old, man came by with an old wooden cart with wooden wheels. On top and on the sides were wooden slates of various sizes. He stopped in front of us and pulled out his drum sticks and began to bang out a tune and sing his heart out . . . I think. Not absolutely sure because the music from our cafe drowned him out, but he was adorable. Everyone tipped him generously and he creeped onto the next cafe.

Our favorite restaurant has a low balcony overlooking 5th avenue (as the local T-shirt says "there is more than one 5th ave!"). The best Mariachi band plays there almost all night. Que Romantica! Right now I am sitting in front of Starbucks sipping a mocha and watching two German girls with their babies taking a break on a park bench. A stunningly beautiful lady in a casual floor length gown is sitting next to me with her laptop on her lap. Her long black hair is coiled up on top of her head. Joe and I like to guess where people are from. The shoes are usually a dead give away. The Europeans wear really odd shoes. And they smoke . . . a lot.

The police presence is very good. It can get crowded and has the potential to get rowdy. Drinking alcohol in public is illegal here, and the police enforce it. With machine guns. I only saw one couple with alcohol and the police asked them to throw it in the garbage. The man hesitated, but the wife dragged him over to the can and made him do it.

Wine opened: Michael David's Sloth (Zinfandel). . . Rich robust jams, shared with the Ecuadorians and Grace fell in love with it (made her husband take a picture of the label so she could buy it).  Also opened Renquist Zinfandel . . . started off very good, but lost its gusto overnight even though I kept it refrigerated. Next time I'll be sure to enjoy it the same day and not pour large glasses.
Well the beach beckons . . . Hasta luego, Heidi

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