Sunday, April 3, 2011

Travel Tips for Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum Mexico

Orientation: This is in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. 90% is jungle. The other 10% of the land is home to packaged tourism and the area adjoining the beach is all sectioned off to magnificently kooky looking resort with impressive entrances that would make Pharoahs proud.

Cancun I knew to be terrifying. Playa del Carmen I learned was just as bad. It is jam packed with touts, souvenir shops, tourists and the ugliest beach I saw the whole trip. The beach smells like fish and exhaust and is littered and over-run with tourist stuff. The lone woman I saw meditating topless against a concrete wall with graffiti on it while some guy took pictures of her said it all.

Sample things said by touts in Playa del Carmen:
"Hello... Little Person"
"Do you want Mexican boyfriend? For you no charge"
"Weed anyone" (said to teenagers)

There is a Walmart. We didn't find it though. We found another store called Cedraui which was like a Walmart. It was a straight up rip-off of Walmart.

You don't need a map. There's 1 highway. The only signs are to beach resorts (one senses that the signs are all paid for by the hotels). There is approximately 2.5 miles between the highway and the beach to the east and to the west is all jungle.

Rent a car. It cost us about $20/day and it was very easy and made everything more accessible. We got to find a hidden beach called Playa Cielo one day because we decided to ask around until we found a deserted beach that charged 30 pesos for parking.

Tulum is amazing. It's the kind of place you can go to and be anywhere on this earth. We stayed on beachfront huts. The water was so perfect - blue, wavey, not too cold, the sands were perfect. The development was low-end and environmentally responsible. There is no Internet access, limited use of credit cards, limited electricity and the water is hard/salt water. It was really a little slice of hippy paradise. The food was amazing. I'll be recreating that lentil salad for a while. Having a mojito in our hotel's open lobby in Tulum, with the strong breeze flowing through, listening to some buddha lounge music at 10 a.m. was the best experience of the trip.

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