Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tips for Playa del Carmen

So here’s some tips for traveling here to Playa Del Carmen in no particular order;

Don’t stay at the hotels between El Faro and Playa Palms. A large number of nightclubs a clustered together and produce an amazing amount of noise. We could faintly hear it until at least four in the morning on most nights  and occasionally I could hear it even when I used earplugs. It’s sad because some beautiful resorts have to deal with the loss of revenue from people not coming back. That being said, if you come here to party . . . stay between El Faro and Playa Palms J You will be close to all the night action and a short stumble home.

If at all possible book your travel plans though your hotel not one of the travel “agencies” on the street. You will get a better deal, and not have things promised to you that are impossible to deliver. The hotels are a little more accountable.

Accept the smells. Embrace them. Otherwise you’ll be miserable. The Caribbean at this point collects a lot of seaweed, and it can be pretty stinky on the beach. They scoop it up as fast as they can, but it is a natural part of this area. Also the water washes up onto the beach leaving little pools which smell when the tide drops. Also you should know there are parts of the shore, especially in front of El Taj, and it’s neighbors (3 or 4 complexes either direction), where the fishing boats drop anchor. They clean their fish, much to the delight of the birds, much to the dismay of the humans.

When you’re at a restaurant you must ask for your bill “La cuenta por favor”. Otherwise they will leave you alone. The up side is that you can truly relax. No rush. The down side is you can feel pissy because clearly you are done, and they won’t bring the bill. It’s a cultural thing, like in Italy. Also an important note is to look on the bill, and see if they already charged you for the tip, “Propina Incluye.” Or they could have just included they suggested tip, without charging you for it, “Propina Sugeste”. So this means you see the total at the bottom, you see the word ‘Propina’, you put down enough money, they bring the change, and you pocket it without counting it. The problem is you didn’t tip them. Count your change. If it’s too much, you didn’t tip.

Going to the dock to catch the ferry to Cozumel can seem simple enough, and it is actually. Fifty salesmen between you and the dock will tell you otherwise. They will actually intimidate you. “You have to buy your ticket here!” “What do you think, I would lie to you” “How are you going to get on the boat without a ticket?” Just act like you don’t hear them. Maintain an act of talking amongst yourselves and press on. Right in front of the pier, to the left, is a blue and white solid cement ticket-booth. Buy your tickets there.

Good food can be found three streets away from 5th Ave for a third of the price. As I’ve said in past posts, we take a chewable Pepto-Bismol tablet every morning. We never get sick. We went to a park back on 20th St and had fabulous quesadillas and tacos for a couple of bucks. Another favorite is Tacos Arabe where the three of us ate and drank for under ten bucks. I think it’s on 6th St. Also of note is you can ask the restaurants on 5th avenue if they have a cheaper menu. Sometimes they do. We did that the other night at an Italian restaurant. We got a Mexican menu, and really enjoyed the fish tacos for half the price of the fish and pasta. When eating at a fine dining establishment where meals average 15-40 USD, order off the appetizer list. That will usually cost about 10 USD per dish.

Federal police in black with big machine guns patrolling the streets in pairs is not a sign of immanent war. This is a serious show of power to protect you, the tourist. The lights on the trucks flash all the time, don’t worry, nothing is necessarily happening.

If your bathroom stinks like an outhouse, look for a drain in the floor and put a garbage can over it (or something else to cover it). Sometimes the drains are directly connected to the sewage. The fumes can waft up into your room . . . horrible!

If you like birds circling over your head like a cloud of pets, you’ll love this. The seagulls have the humans trained to hold food up in their hands. The seagulls stay in tight formation about ten feet over your head. It’s really kind of cool to watch the birds take turns swooping down for their morsel. I think I’d have a panic attack and run down the beach screaming and flapping my arms . . . not a pretty sight.

Mexicans (and Guatemalans) love their explosives. They like fireworks, firecrackers, and M80s. Especially around holidays, which is often. The other night we awoke to 5 or 6 very loud explosions followed by a splashes. The next day security cameras were installed aimed at the pool.

Finally, tip for practically everything. Not much, just a little goes a long ways here. Most people work 12 hours a day/ 6 days a week for less than what we make in a day. Tips are genuinely appreciated. Example; when we ask for an umbrella, we tip the guy who goes and gets it for us.

Well, until next time via con Dios

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