Sleepy no more, Mexico village a place to 'Playa'
Sleepy no more, Mexico village a place to ‘Playa’
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – Surely, this can’t be the same street I was walking on yesterday. But it most certainly is, and in fact I’ve been tromping on it for six days straight, two or three times daily, and it’s never given me the same look twice.
Welcome to Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue for gringos) in the charming and funky city of Playa del Carmen (just “Playa” for the locals) on Mexico’s Mayan Riviera.
It’s nowhere near as famous as its superstar neighbor of Cancun, about a 40-minute drive north on the Caribbean coast, or the nearby island of Cozumel, where massive cruise ships dock and load around the clock.
And that suits the residents – including many business owners – and the repeat tourists – who do their best to keep this place all to themselves – just fine. But word is starting to spread, almost as fast as Quinta Avenida.
“Look, I live here, walk here every day, and it’s still exciting to me,” said my guide, Gaby. “It’s very easy to become addicted to this street,” she winked.
Quinta Avenida is a pedestrian-only street about 40 blocks long and a block from the beautiful beaches on the Caribbean coast. My condo hotel, the El Taj Oceanfront, sat on the beach with the front door pointing to Quinta Avenida a few steps away.
So each day I was faced with the delicious choice of lounging on the beach or strolling the street, and the latter usually won.
There is no master plan, no plan at all, for Quinta Avenida. But it’s a very bizarre mix – tourist souvenir shacks next to designer boutiques, gourmet food and bad food, bargains and ripoffs, erotic “hands-free” massages and religious altars side by side, strolling mariachi musicians, rundown rooming houses and upscale hotels, and … well, you get the picture.
But not really, because tomorrow it’s as though the entire street gets reshuffled. Some of the stores you saw yesterday may be closed or being torn down while new ones are opening. Some have been painted a different color. That taco stand you went to yesterday is now a currency exchange.
Back in the late ’80s this was a sleepy fishing village with about 2,000 residents and no tourists. Then Europeans discovered it, along with North American backpackers. The population increased to 20,000 during the ’90s. Today, people simply shrug their shoulders when asked the count, but it is generally believed to be more than 100,000.
Developers got the drift and began constructing condo hotels in the beachfront area. The El Taj Oceanfront, where I stayed, is one of the newest hotel resorts, one of five properties under the banner of Condo Hotels, all within easy walking distance of each other.To see the complete article visit TheStandardSpeaker.com>>>