Playa del USA and Chichen Itzzzzaaaahhhhh!
Playa del Carmen Travel Blog› entry 13 of 21 › view all entries
Our afternoon shuttle from Tulum did not take too long to get to Playa del Carmen. Arriving at the bus terminal we walked to the hostel along the main street in awe of all the people, shops, restaurants and flashing lights. The contrast to Tulum was incredible... in Tulum there was no one around, very few tourists and very few backpackers, with minimal development, basic restaurants and beautiful beaches. Playa del Carmen on the other hand is very much geared for the American tourist with the smell of money in the air, with brand names, jewellery shops and food every where!
We opted to stay at Hostel Playa which was back from the main street, but near the Walmart! Oh my goodness that was an experience in itself.
On our first full day we just walked around the shops marveling at all the wealth, particularly after all the relative poverty we'd witnessed over the past few weeks. That evening we ate at a restaurant called "A 100% Natural", and I only wish I had my camera with me... we sat outside next to the fountain covered in fresh fruit and veg... I had the most amazing salad here - especially after trying to avoid such things as salads during most of my travels to date because of the increased risk of stomach bugs.
Poor Maree was still sick so we took it easy for a day and then went with her to the doctors to see if they could sort her out. The doc prescribed her with loads of medicines to combat viral and bacterial stomach bug issues, noting to her that it was a really common occurrence in foreign travelers. So with prescriptions in hand we went back to... Walmart! Even writing... Walmart... is exciting... yes... sad... I realise... but after travelling in countries were you had to search high and low for something as simple as body wash, finding a shop that had everything under the sun was just plan amazing.
With drugs in hand, picnic lunch ready and the sun shining, we made our way down to the beach. We found a spot near a palm tree in front of one of the many holiday complexes, and enjoyed the afternoon reading and relaxing in the sunshine.
Heading back to the hostel I found a scorpion on the footpath, which we thought was dead... that is until Al tried to step on it and it ran away!
One of the evenings we decided to eat in, and as it turned out so had almost everyone else staying at the hostel. So with the kitchen rush hour under full swing we waited our turn... with vodka and coke in hand. While we drank we prepared the veg for the pasta, and once a couple of cookers became free we got the pasta on the boil and the veggies on the stir-fry.
The following evening we went out for dinner on the main road. We went to a bar/restaurant with live music and what I thought would be cheap cocktails, but unfortunately turned out not to be so. The "live entertainment" was entertaining, and by that I mean the drunk ladies who kept getting up to dance... but the food was fairly average and the band okay. When we got back to the hostel it seemed everyone was going salsa dancing, but seeing as we had a bus bright and early to Piste, we opted to stay in.
Piste was the town which we intended to stay in order to get down to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. For future reference... don't bother! It was stinking hot and nothing to do... we arrived, got off the bus and walked a million miles to the one and only listed hostel to find it not open! The three of us just could not believe it. We then had to go on a mission to find somewhere else, and Maree opted to go on the reconnaissance and found a room with a bathroom and tv.
We spent the afternoon in Chichen Itza with a guide, which did actually make it quite worthwhile - the guide was very informative and chatty. As is typical of the Mayan ruins he spoke of how the temples were built in alignment with the stars, using sundials to capture the summer and winter solstices. The main astrological draw card for Chichen Itza is it's main temple with the snake heads and shadow bodies that show during the solstices and attract thousands and thousands of visitors each year.
We had some time to kill as with your ticket you could join the light show in the evening, so we wondered around the markets... which is where I impulse purchased a ceramic Mayan mask.
The evening light show... which we waited around for... was a little on the average side of things. Essentially it was a history of the ruins in Spanish set to lights, i.e. the different ruins lit up in different colours with the audio occasionally going "Chichen Itzzzzaaaahhhh".... then again... "Chichen Itzzzzaaaahhhh".