Monday, June 8, 2015

Out to Town

After our huge luncheon, we hit the gym and the spa. After relaxing for a couple of hours, we wandered into the nearest town, Playa del Carmen. Playa, meaning beach in Spanish, is the basis of this community, attracting tourists from around the world and providing food and money for the local economy.
Hotel Lobby

I couldn't believe how few people there are at our resort, because as we walked through the lobby to grab a taxi, we did not see a soul. I really liked the Asian art they used to decorate the place, and later I found out that the hotel was actually owned by Mandarin Oriental, who had probably had just given them the artworks.

It was a half hour drive into the city, which cost a hefty $30. It certainly pays to be a taxi cab driver here in Playa del Carmen, because there's no way for the tourists to get around other than taxis.

We wandered onto Main Street, filled with souvenir shops and restaurants, most of which were Italian. It was the longest street full of touristy stuff, perhaps the longest I've ever seen.

I really liked the pizza stands like this one situated at different spots along the street. They all looked really good - thin slices of cheesy pizza with your regular toppings like mushroom and pepperoni.

I also liked how there were people dressed like Mayan natives to attract attention to their shops. But there were a lot of pushy owners as well, heckling down tourists to visit their shop or restaurant. I got mistaken for a Korean many times, as many people tried to get my attention by calling out, "Ye-puh-yo!" which means "beautiful" in Korean.

So the whole street was literally filled with souvenirs, most of which like this Mexican hat were too big to carry home. Though they are pretty, I'm sure they are made in China. Thankfully we got our own hats, hubby's a made in Mexico fedora.

I came across this little dog on the street. It actually didn't look like a dog at first, more like a little rat. As I snapped a picture of it, a couple of tourists came by and laughed at it =(What a cute and poor little thing. In comparison, I came across another cute mutt later, this one posing with a skeleton model of itself.

The street goes on for about 3 miles before reaching its much anticipated destination - the giant statue of the intertwining mermaids with the loops, representing the ancient Mayan ballgame that was played for days at a time to determine who would become a sacrifice to the gods.

A lot of people were gathered around for their daily dance show, where four traditional Mayan dancers jumped and twirled to the beat of the drums. There was one guy at the end who didn't really know his moves, and it was entertaining to see him try to catchup to his fellow dancers. It was actually really hot that day, so I'm not sure how the dancers were able to do that for hours under the smelting sun.

There is a small upscale mall at the end of the playa for tourists to splurge on, which is where I found this cute little thing. It actually costs money to pet it or even take a picture of it, so I was lucky to have snapped a photo before the man told me to stop.

As the sun set in, we wondered whether to grab some local food or head back to the hotel. Hubby and I had snacked on some mandarin gelato and churros earlier, and though Hubby really wanted the local food, I thought it was too touristy and the prices were pretty steep (3 tacos for $12! You can't even find that in New York City!). So we walked a bit further down the street and caught sight of the famous pole twirlers - men dressed in traditional Mexican clothes hung upside down on a pole being twisted around. I'm not sure what the legend is behind this one, but I felt bad that they had to do this for a living. At least the distance to the group wasn't that high, because I'm sure they had no safety strings attached.

On our taxi cab back, we asked the driver where the locals eat, and he pointed to a square that was out of view from the main street, filled with street foods like tacos and quesadillas. We should have asked him to stop to grab a few, but we knew better than to look like two obvious tourists and headed back instead.

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