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Hey Mister Whiskers...

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OK, so we know its going to be a hard sell when you see this sunny beach photo to persuade you that we didn’t have that great a time in Playa del Carmen! But it wasn’t quite the right spot for us. It’s a tourist-orientated beach town on the Mexican Yucutan peninsula, i.e. the Caribbean coast. We flew into nearby Cancun about 2 weeks ago to begin our trip here.

The most common holiday activity in Playa is running the 5th Av gauntlet while trying to ignore a constant barrage of people trying to sell cigars, massages, taxis, tequila, tattoos and assorted tat. From around midday onwards 5th turns into an episode of the Mexican Apprentice with pushy contestants shouting ‘massaje’, ‘taxi taxi’, ‘I got what you need’, ‘hey buddy, you from New York?’, ‘something for your princess?’, all accompanied by the sounds of US chart music and pneumatic drills. Bliss. Jim got some special treatment on account of his general hairiness - ‘hey rock and roller, mister long hair’ and our favourite ‘hey, mister whiskers’! The overall effect was that we didn’t stop long enough to look at anybody’s wares as we didn’t want to put up with the constant hassle.

The heat and humidity is pretty intense so we decided to splash out in the first week on a room with AC which sometimes allowed us to con our bodies that they were still in Yorkshire. Unfortunately the bar next door had live music til late every night - someone doing terrible covers of old school rock tracks (including committing the cardinal sin of playing Pink Floyd badly, which Jim misheard and so the musician was renamed the “Pink Floyd Baddie”). We should have been out partying instead of being captive to this criminal, but due to a combination of jetlag and Playa raging through our money we had to spend many an evening sitting in eating cheese and tortilla chips from the supermarket and drinking weak lager. It was hard to find anything affordable to do. If you’re in a position to spend your time in an all-inclusive luxury beach resorts and shopping for posh watches and perfumes, this place is for you, but it’s hard to have a good value meal out or find a scrap of shade on the beach that hasn’t been monopolised by the hotels and beach clubs. On the other hand, the massive development at Playa and Cancun (which were basically fishing villages about 15 years ago) has brought a lot of wealth and infrastructure to the area. It suits some, but much of it didn’t really appeal to us.

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So what do you do in Playa apart from sleeping off the flight and trying not to melt in the afternoon sun? We’d recommend a visit to Kaxapa Factory for some Venezuelan food. The titular Kaxapa is a thick corn pancake with a choice of fillings they’re delicious, as was the fresh passionfruit juice and brown sugar lemonade. The place is run by Jose Ramon who moved to Playa from Venezuela and may be the friendliest and happiest person anywhere.

The place to go for local food is apparently El Fogon (which means stovetop). As soon as you approach the smell of barbecuing meat and the sight of a huge rotating skewer tells you there’s probably no veggie option here. If you weren’t sure then check out the menu with its picture of a little piggy chilling it on top of the fogon. The food is tasty and great value. The tacos are made with meat from the skewer which is juicy and has the perfect amount of charred flavour on it. Alongside that I (Jim obviously) had chorizo on a ‘pillow’ of cheese which was meaty and delicious if a little salty. Even so I wouldn’t recommend the cheese pillow as my stomach spent the next couple of hours regretting the fist sized ball of stretchy cheese it had to deal with.

Anyway, we’ve moved on now! And don’t worry, this isn’t Idiot Abroad, we won’t always be complaining about everywhere we visit! Tune in for our next stop, Valladolid, which was ace…

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This featured blog entry was written by gadgetex from the blog Juan Direction.
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By gadgetex

Posted Wed, Oct 09, 2013 | Mexico | Comments