Playa Del Carmen
She ain't what she used to be... Maybe it was the fact that i picked up a bug and spent most of our first two days in playa laying in bed. Maybe it was the countless under-the-breath offers for drugs, girls and other nameless indiscretions i got every time we walked down 5th ave... or maybe it was when we saw the exuberant congo line circling the street only to funnel single file under a ladder and with a lady bartender standing on top pouring shot after shot of crap tequila into everyones mouth as they pass under...
But at some point i realized i was mourning the loss of a city we once loved.
The feeling began in tulum as we were sitting in standstill bumper to bumper traffic along a stretch of road that we first knew as an unpaved, hard to find and leading to nowhere "road" with a handful of cabana groupings that could barely yet be called hotels. But there...we were playing with friends and it was easy to see the riviera maya through their eyes. In playa it all came crashing to a very crisp reality of change.
Jen and i got married less than 30 minutes from playa. We fell in love with this part of mexico and playa was a large part of why. It was just the right amount of touristy and 5th avenue was lined with a scattering of restaurants, bars and shops to try and bring the european tourists down the street. Now its almost indescribable. Block after block of high end fashion, expensive shops and fancy italian restaurants. It's anything but mexico.
We actually passed two different victoria's secrets in a 3 block window in the middle of 5th avenue. Why exactly you would come to mexico to eat italian and shop at victoria's secret is completely beyond me...but its good to know you don't have to walk those three extra blocks to get there when your in a pinch for your lingerie needs.
I will never understand why it is that european tourists seem to enjoy visiting a place and experiencing the differentness of it while american tourists seem to take over and make it look just like their town back home? If you want every place to look and feel like home, why travel to begin with? I had heard that Playa has been the fastest growing city on the planet the last few years...i guess i shouldnt have been surprised. Yet somehow i still was.
We spent our next few days hiding out in our room, laying on the beach out front, sipping artisanal tequilas and then walking around at night aghast at what playa has become. It felt more like spring break than anything else and while we enjoyed a few more days of sunshine and ocean...i cant say we were terribly sad to leave and return home.
It didn't hurt that when we got in the cab headed for the airport we saw photos of karma and realized how excited we were to see her.
Appears we are getting pretty close to our goal of being just as excited to return home as we are to depart for a trip... and for that we couldnt be more excited!