Monday, February 19, 2007

Playa del Carmen

Saturday was a fun day. The four of us loaded into our little car and took the car ferry to the mainland. Our ultimate destination was to visit Playa del Carmen, about 40 minutes south along the coast.

car ferry pulling into Isla dock

Of course, we weren't the only passengers on board. This was part of the band that had played in our town square on Friday night. Part of the Karneval (Mardi Gras) celebration currently in full swing.

band members

Playa is a strange place. Definately not for me. It is way too commercial and touristy. Downtown consists mostly of the huge Fifth Avenue shopping street. From there to what little beach there is, it is one expensive gigantic hotel after the other. You know the kind. Where the lobby is all done in shiny tiles or marble and the lobby alone is as big as a house.

I like to have a little room when I go to the beach. I do not want to be right on top of somebody else. No chance of that in Playa!

beds on the beach

Just down the beach from all this wildlife is another kind of wildlife. Here the local boats are surrounded by pelicans and other birds. Waiting for handouts. These boats are here for the tourists. One is assaulted all along the beach by guys who want to take you fishing for $50 for 4 hours. No thanks.

fishing boats

Leave the beach and walk a block inland and you come to the giant outdoor mall which is the heart of Playa called Fifth Avenue. It is shop after shop after shop. Some with the typical tourist trinket garbage, some very upscale and some quite unique. But all expensive. This was a Day of the Dead store.

The lettering for the name of the store was very interesting. Left no doubt of the contents of the store!

We encountered this cactus that was so old that it had actually turned into a cactus tree! I found this very interesting since I have the same species of cactus in my garden in front of the cabana. If the hurricanes would stop knocking it down it might eventually turn into this.

Peeking through the branches, against the wall was this fellow. I think he had been standing there for a very long time!

One of the upscale clothing stores had these mannequins out front. Very modern but I found them just a little scary looking.

Murals seem to be a big deal too. I like this one. I am thinking of having a mural painted on one of my walls upstairs so am constantly looking for inspiration. Although I like it, I don't think I want it on my house!

Statues of this guy and his musician friends were everywhere. This was the largest of them. I find it quite whimsical and amusing. Not sure if I would like the music he would probably play though! Except that the moustache is bigger, he looks just like a guy who serenades the tourists downtown on Isla.

Towards the end of this endless outdoor shopping mall is the old town square. In front of it is the restored church. It is very tiny inside. More of a chapel than a church. Only about 5 rows of seats. I like the curves on it and the clean fluidity.

Another type of mural. But in 3D. Interesting.

Let's not forget Karneval. This group of Senior Citizens was waiting their turn to dance. I love the older groups. I'm sure the women that still have husbands made the costumes for them as well. This was the King and Queen of the group. Her sash says Queen of the Third Age. I think what she is saying is that they are over 75. Not sure though because she sure doesn't look that old.

All in all, it was a fun day. We ended up getting the last ferry of the day back to the island at 8:30pm. I think Playa is someplace that I won't bother visiting again for a long, long time though. Just way to expensive and commercialized for my taste.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Playa used to be like Isla Mujeres is now - a little developed but not so much. The first time I went to Playa, most of 5th Avenue was dirt and gravel road. Things have really changed. Probably Isla is headed in the same direction, for better or for worse. It's been a couple of years since I've seen Isla, but the development since the first time I went there in the very early 90s is significant (as you have mentioned in at least one of your posts). Development is a mixed blessing, I guess. I'm sure the locals like the jobs that come with development, but ironically the development will price the locals right off the island if no one does anything to keep that from happening. I love reading your blog. Thanks for taking the time to put it together.