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Final thoughts from Mexico – Playa del Carmen

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Cave diving in a Playa Del Carmen cenote

Cave diving in a Playa Del Carmen cenote

Our journey in Mexico ended in Playa del Carmen. PdC as it’s known, along with its neighbour Cancun is about as American as a place can be that’s not in America.

The stores are American, the food is more Tex-Mex than Mexican and the streets are full of cruise ship passengers.

The weird thing is, far too many of them still have Marco Polo Syndrome, thinking they’re on an intrepid adventure into the unknown. Another white face should be shunned as an impossibility in such a remote region, less than two hours from Miami.

We’d been warned that our next destination of Cuba had very variable food, so after 3 weeks of amazing Mexican food we sat in the most touristy restaurant possible and enjoyed a simple cheeseburger.

Kaxapa Kitchen

Venezuelan flavours in Mexico at Kaxapa Kitchen

The elderly couple next to us, both in Hawaiian shirts and white shorts, and him with a captain’s hat, kept making overly loud comments to each other about how touristy everything was, and how the people next to them had come all the way to Mexico and were eating a burger. They meanwhile tucked into traditional Mexican lasagne.

Getting off the main strip in Playa del Carmen, there are some amazing local restaurants. A small hut opposite our hotel sold delicious, but incredibly (suspiciously) cheap chorizo tacos. The best restaurant we found was a Venezuelan place called the Kaxapa Factory. It’s just everything you want in a cheap restaurant – delicious food, beautifully presented with a friendly smile.

Cenote near Tulum

Cenote near Tulum

Flying in Mexico – Aero Mexico

We took an internal flight from Mexico City to Tutlia Gutierrez on Aero Mexico. The booking process was simple enough, but I made the mistake of signing up for email alerts if there were any changes to the schedule.

In the 15 days between booking the flight and boarding the plane I’d received 38 email messages telling me the flight time had changed by a minute or two either way. In the last email the scheduled departure was back at the original 5.33am. Obviously we took off at 6.25.

Surface of the Cenote

Surface of the Cenote

Final thoughts

Be aware that many things in Mexico are a bit less than claimed. Arriving from Texas, the Mexican offer of a gigantic meal is simply moderately large by US standards, hour long tours are only 50 minutes and a ‘full-size’ swimming pool was not as full-size as we might have hoped – I’d go so far as to say fun-sized.

Outside of the well-trodden tourist trail there are dangerous areas near both the north and south borders, mostly caused by the drug trade. Everywhere we visited the people were warm and friendly, even in the capital and apart from a dodgy tour company we didn’t see anything in the way of scams or dangerous situations.

Mexico is easy to get around, very good value and if you love food it’s great to find that Mexican dishes go far beyond tacos, burritos and fajitas. Combine this with some world-class historical sites like Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza and it’s an easy place to recommend a visit.

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Since leaving London in 2006 I’ve travelled, worked, volunteered and lived in over 90 countries. Highlights so far would be driving along the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul, a complete circuit of South America and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica. I’m currently back in Beijing, as a base to visit more of Asia and attempt to learn Mandarin.

5 comments

  • Pingback: @crorysoutdoor

  • Reading your post strengthens my resolve to try to see all the sites in Yucatan without actually spending any time in Cancun or Playa del Carmen (other than the airport/bus station).

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  • We are super excited to check out Mexico in a couple of months. And after being in Asia for so long I can’t wait to get my hands on a real burrito! It’s good to hear you felt safe wherever you were. I feel all we ever hear as Americans is all violence and danger. Though it exists, if your smart about where and how you travel I’m sure it can be an amazing place to explore. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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