Not quite the real Cancun...
Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
70Trip End Ongoing
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Playa Del Carmen is a full on fucking tourist town, the constant piercing sounds of construction reflecting Playa's status - apparently - as the world's fastest growing city, this statistic all the more astonishing given its unremarkableness as a tourist centre. Sure it's a place of death, but an unremarkable one - it's not Buenos Aires. Playa Del Carmen is standard, off the shelf, manufactured; fast food never more than a couple of blocks away, a starbucks opposite, overpriced mexicana souvenirs and restaurants galore; stupid fucking T-shirts; 'bodies in the sand, tropical drink melting in your hand, we'll be falling in love to the rhythm of the steel drum band, down in [insert relevant tourist town].
But there comes a point in every trip, no matter how philosophically you may be against such a tourist resot, where a beachside break is necessary and justifiable - beach football with the locals as the ocean spray floats in; a thai green curry; a cocktail or two; cookies and cream icecream; and nothing more - and frankly, all of it, with the exception of hangovers of the devil, has been decent
Playa. It is what it is, and you get the feeling that the people that come here are happy for it being what it is being. Maybe the locals as well... Perhaps not that amazingly, this kind of holiday - nay place - is popular. Damn popular. Well, at least popular enough for Playa to be the fastest growing city in the world...
Leaving Mexico from Playa Del Carmen seemslike such an unjust way to be completing my Latin American travels - Playa, and the hideous Cancun, encapsulating almost nothing of the amazing cultural, political, societal fascinations that have made this journey, for want of a better phrase, fucking brilliant. So, as not to forget the aspects of Latin American that have, unfortunately been lossed to the Caribbean Coast of Mexico, I pay the following special thanks:
- to the random paladar in Trinidad, Cuba: for answering the question that had been playing on our minds for so long - "Do Cubans let random turtles and birds roam around their restaurant?"
- to Dr Taco in Playa Del Carmen for saying "I am Dr Taco
- to Bolivia: for teaching me that success in life is measured by how many coca leaves you can fit in your mouth at once.
- To Reggaeton: for the perpetual trance that you have put me in for the last 4 months with your hypnotic, repetitive beats. yes - all your songs sounds the same. They possible are all the same. But I'm addicted...
- To everyone that has called me 'Chino' instead of 'Japones'.
And so to the Top 5. Tourist touts are expected in these towns. Of course. And frankly, I'm always quite entertained by them. Sure the hassle can get a bit mad, but, in the end, there's always decent humour in some of the things they say. And the way they say them - in Playa Del Carmen, all with the stereotypical Speedy Gonzalez "arriba arriba" accent, or the "hey gringo - i want to buy your sister. And add that to some of the calls they use to lure people into their restaurant or shop, and it's pure 100% money-back guaranteed amusement. Here are the top 5 tourist phrases from Playa Del Carmen:
4. Come and have a beer with me. We have budweiser...
3. I am the king of shops. Shop with me. I am the king. Of shops.
2. Hey - amigo - what you looking for? (call from about 10 metres away as you walk towards his shop - ignored)
Hey - amigo - good price, best quality (call as you get to about 5 metres - still walking past)
Wanna get high? (in a whisper as a walk past him)
1. Hey gringo - I'll give you a chance to rip me off...
Goodbye Latin America. But start spreading the news. I'll leaving today. I'm gonna be a part of it... New York.