Oregon to the Yucatan Peninsula & Back Again 5
Part 5 of 6: The journal of a road trip through the Yucatan Peninsula
We packed up and departed for the other side of the Yucatan Peninsula to finish our holiday on the Caribbean Coast in the stretch known as the “Riviera Maya”. We have selected a central location, a town called Playa del Carmen. We leave Merida without incident. I am slightly remorseful that I did not take more photos of the city and some of the smaller towns along our route.
Each town, its occupants are anticipating and waiting for a richer life. Or maybe I have it wrong, they are content with the simple life they already have. I see stone huts with a palapa style roof, maybe only 8 x 8 in size, no plumbing, and no electricity. About ten percent of these “houses” are abandoned because they are just too broken down to be habitable. Some of them may be hundreds of years old or more.
The towns that were built close to archaeological sites were often built from the material raided at those sites. There appears to be little pride of ownership in some of these towns, at least for the exteriors. The towns were so filthy you hardly wanted to step out of your car. Maybe the insides of the homes are nice, like what we experienced in Merida with our hotel and some of the other buildings. The outside can be nothing and inside is dreamy, fresh and appealing. Though, we did find a neighborhood that had gated residences and nicer appearances on the outside while we were walking around in Merida.
We arrive in Playa del Carmen and saw a whole new Mexico. This area wasn’t developed until 50-70 years ago and most of the major construction wasn’t until even more recent. The town is reminiscent of Santa Cruz, California. A portion of the town closest to the beach is partially shut down to auto traffic and it’s filled with boutiques of all types (clothing, jewelry, pottery, tequilerias, crafts) and restaurants with seating on the boulevard. Everything stays open until 10-11 p.m., like a party every night. It’s very commercialized though!
We have reservations at a hotel that has no parking lot and we’d have to lug our bags several blocks. That’s not going to work! I cruise the Fodor’s guide and call several places and find a new hotel that offers free parking. It’s a little more than the other place, but it turns out to be very nice, the Tierra Maya and convenient walking distance to all the action.
We had another lovely supper at La Palapa Hemingway. This one rates as meal two. We ooh and aah at little at the boutiques on our way to a beach access. We squeeze our way through a few small hotels buildings and here is our first site of the Caribbean at night! White sand. I couldn’t walk into the water with my gimp wrap but the smell and sweet breeze was refreshing. I miss the ocean! It felt wonderful. Sweet J; he is awakened. It’s like watching the energizer bunny on steroids in the water, jumping, digging, building a pyramid with the sand. He is so happy, happy, happy. That boy loves the beach!
The sheer joy of this perfect moment causes me to take an instant of reflection and hold gratitude in my heart for my blessings and those of this earth. I saw lights on the beach, people coming off the ferry in the distance, the stars peeking through the broken clouds, and I heard some of my favorite songs playing on the radio at a nearby beach bar. This ocean smelled slightly different than mine, the Pacific, but I like it. The breeze is gentle, caressing, and sweet. I feel connected and thankful.
It was time to move on. I really needed to rest my foot if I am going to keep up. I decided to walk back to the hotel and try the hot tub before it gets too late. D and J find a gelato shop on the way back for dessert. YUM! I waited for them to get back for the hot tub, which turned out to be no that hot at all. Bummer! We abandoned swimming and played games instead. We also watched a little television and headed to sleep early in preparation for a long day tomorrow.
We’re planning for Xel-Ha tomorrow and maybe Tulum.