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Old 01-07-2014   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: May 2002
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Island Hopping and Happy Birthdays

Sunday, November 24th

Without going into too much detail, our Mexican vacation almost ended before it started. A temporary immigration snafu prevented our dog sitter to travel from Jamaica at the 11th hour (literally), so we asked our ride to pick up Harris and Paul as planned for the next morning’s airport run, while we stayed behind to figure something out. After all, you just couldn’t drop our former shelter dogs off at a strange kennel- at a moment’s notice, no less. But our angel Misty insisted on bringing us to Logan AND watching over our furry family. However Misty had very little history of interaction with Ixchel and Sirena, who are often, well, skeptical of people they do not know well. Fortunately it would turn out that they would all get along famously and our fears were unfounded.

Soon we were on our way to Cancun, on a tight schedule that would allow us to finally check out the annual ‘Taste of Playa’, staying one night in town before heading off to parts unknown for our first week of vacation. Thank goodness Brian goes along with my harebrained schemes without too much protest.

With one stumbling block behind us, we met another when going through customs. Despite getting the green light, something in our luggage raised suspicion and we were politely asked to follow the nice young woman into the back office with our bags.
“Oh, these? Sure, you may look through these containers- it is just medical supplies donated by our vet for Playa Animal Rescue- we have this letter”, I said with a smile as Brian cringed. “Oh, lady, you can’t do that… do you have any antibiotics?” Brian pulled out a big bottle. That seemed to be the biggest offense- there seemed to be no problem with the syringes, catheters, heavy duty pain meds, etc.
We kept pulling things out- “Is this an antibiotic? No? Well, okay. And these expired meds, oh lady, you can’t DO that. Well, maybe they’re not too old… Are you a vet?”

We went back and forth as she scrutinized many of the contents, asking her coworker for opinions and googling certain things- “oh that’s for ear mites, or skin problems”, we’d say. She apologized, we apologized- Brian would later admit that it was kind of a pleasant experience. Under the circumstances, I guess I’d agree, especially since we were allowed to keep half of what we’d brought (and the 20 tick collars I’d found online, whew!)…

After 45 minutes of this she said “I can type up a list for you of these things we that we kept, so that you’ll know next time what isn’t allowed”. We politely declined, saying that we knew now and wouldn’t do it again, and that we were anxious to get started on our vacation. She laughed.

We marched straight outside to our waiting ride to the Caribbean/American/Cancun car rental agency (the one that goes by all these names and more), stopping first to grab an expensive beer for the ride.
Harris and Paul had long since ditched us and had driven off to Playa in their Easyway rental, unaware of our detention. We touched base after checking into our room at Hotel Lunata and made a plan to hook up later. Paul just wanted to chill out, and I wanted to get over to Taste of Playa.

We had ordered VIP tickets online, and were shown to the entrance where we received our “Playa pesos” to spend at the 40 some-odd booths featuring some of Playa’s best restaurants and bars- it was a foodie’s delight! The VIP pass included a bunch of the tokens and entrance into a sectioned-off lounging area where one could escape the crowd, which was pretty large. We said a quick hello to Steve (snappysammy), who was on break from his volunteer duties, and set off to check out all the delicious offerings. At least I did. I forgot to mention that poor Brian had suffered a bout of diverticulitis a week before our trip, and was still on strict doctor’s orders for a bland diet and no drinking- and some heavy duty antibiotics- for another week! I managed to find him a few things that suited his diet, and otherwise ate (and drank) for two. It was fun!

We looked for Steve before we left but he had finished his shift and was nowhere in sight. So, armed with a bunch of leftover tokens we met up with Harris and Paul at the Dirty Martini. Not wanting the tokens to go to waste, Harris and I headed back to the zocalo while the guys called it a night. There were still a few left when we trudged back to our respective rooms (they were at Plantation House). We were headed off in different directions the next morning, but would hook back up in Playa the following Saturday.
I was out like a light when my head hit the pillow.
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Old 01-07-2014   #2 (permalink)
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Aside from a few photos of the dings on our rental car, I have no decent photos of this first day.

Here are a couple blurry ones from Taste of Playa- looking up toward some of the food vendors, and a couple of the VIP area.

I promise more photos and less text coming up, really I do!
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Old 01-07-2014   #3 (permalink)
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Yay! I don't post often, but I love your trip reports! Looking forward to more.
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Old 01-07-2014   #4 (permalink)
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What a bummer that they took the donated meds from you. I heard that someone brought donated antibiotics and expired meds a few years ago but put them in different prescription bottles so they could get through customs. I'm not recommending that, but I thought it was an interesting idea.

Love your report so far, looking forward to more!
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Old 01-07-2014   #5 (permalink)
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There always seems to be a twist in the screw you didn't see coming!

Looking forward to see what you did, "The Adventures"
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Old 01-08-2014   #6 (permalink)
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Can't wait

yay! Can't wait for more of your report I've always wanted to be there during Taste of Playa!! Lucky you!!
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Old 01-08-2014   #7 (permalink)
¡No mames güey!
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Been waiting for this one

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Old 01-08-2014   #8 (permalink)
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We do Love and WORRY about our pups, don't we!?! I know I do! Glad it worked out!
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Old 01-08-2014   #9 (permalink)
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Yay! I've been looking forward to this trip report. I have never had any TOP tickets left over. But then again I get there early and stay ALL day long!
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Old 01-08-2014   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks to everyone who's following along- I'll post more in a few minutes.
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Old 01-08-2014   #11 (permalink)
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Monday, November 25th

Anticipating our long drive today, I was up early and off to find coffee, as it was too early find it served in Hotel Lunata’s garden just yet.

After reorganizing our bags to minimize our luggage on our short overnight stays (we’d leave a few things behind in the trunk) we checked out of the room and enjoyed another cup of coffee and toast in the garden (continental breakfast is included) before we hit the road. I love the little oasis behind Lunata- you’d never guess you were right in the midst of 5th Avenue here.

our room right above the Crush sign

we often use this lot on 10th between calle 6 y 8, I think

On our way out of town we made a quick stop at Playa Animal Rescue to drop off the supplies we’d brought, and were soon heading up the Ruta de Cenotes, right outside of Puerto Morelos.

passing shower

We were cutting over to Route 180 (libre, not the toll road). After passing through several small Mayan villages we’d take another cut-off at Leona Vicario that would take us to the Chilaquila road and eventually to the ferry to Isla Holbox, our home for the next three nights. The entire trip from Playa to Chilaquila should take about 2 ½ hours.

I’ve long been a fan of the Mapchick map series. The Mayan Adventure map was easy to follow, and the roads were all well marked.

We reached Leona Vicario and the turn-off toward the Chiquila intersection. There were a couple of barricades set up on one side of the road with some signage that was hard to read. It looked like they’d been there for a long while, and other cars were going past, up, the road, so we figured we would too.

We drove about a half hour, through a couple small villages, and then…. uh oh…..

We turned back and when we reached town again it was pretty apparent that we shouldn’t have taken the chance.

Ah, well, it’s all part of the adventure right? (Even if it added a good hour to our drive, grrr.) Luckily Brian kept his patience with the navigator. We headed back down 180 and took the next road to Chiquila, the one we’d have taken had we been coming from Valladolid.

Back on track, we passed through a couple more villages and finally reached Chiquila at 1:30, where we parked in a covered, secure lot and made our way up the street with plenty of time to catch the 2:00 ferry.

It was a short trip, just 15 minutes or so. Before we knew it we were whisked off on a golf cart taxi through the sandy streets to our hotel, La Palapa.

There are very few cars or trucks here- just a few service vehicles. Almost everyone gets around on golf carts or bikes/scooters.

In the short 10 minutes it took to reach our hotel I was already starting to fall in love with this little town.
After settling into our room we had a late lunch at the hotel’s beachside restaurant, Casa Nostra. The chef is Sicilian and the food quite good- my homemade tagliatelle pasta with shrimp and pesto was just the first of several outstanding meals we had on Holbox, actually. Brian was a good sport as I enjoyed another margarita while he ordered another coke.

Knowing that Isla Holbox has a reputation for its large mosquito population I ran up to the room for repellant, so we could go on a beach walk as the sun began to set. It was worth the few bites I still managed to get, but I think we really just lingered too long on the beach into dusk, as that was never a problem after that night.

Looking back toward La Palapa

Later on we walked the sand streets, dodging some pretty large puddles as we went. Holbox and obviously the whole region (judging by the flooded road we’d come upon earlier), like Playa, had certainly seen more than its share of rain over the past months.

I was drawn to Viva Zapata’s bar and swings as we passed by, and dragged Brian in for a drink.

Then we wandered down a few side streets just to scope things out, and sat in the plaza awhile watching some kids skateboard across the big bandstand.

Across the plaza was Pizzeria Edelyn, which claims to be the first restaurant to ever serve lobster pizza. We weren’t sure about that, but pizza sounded good, and we had one with capers and big green olives on it that was actually very tasty.

The sidewalks were folding up by this time (10:00), and we were fading fast. Tomorrow we planned to rent a golf cart and explore the island. I’d read we could take a road out of the center of town and drive along miles of deserted beaches- and we might even see crocodiles!

Last edited by caramba; 01-09-2014 at 08:36 AM..
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Old 01-11-2014   #12 (permalink)
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Really enjoying reading about your travels. Love the photos! Isla Holbox looks charming.
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Old 01-11-2014   #13 (permalink)
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Loved reading your trip report and anxiously awaiting for more.....especially love the pictures....driving through the small towns sounds like a cool adventure.
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Old 01-11-2014   #14 (permalink)
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Great report !

town looks very laid back .
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Old 01-11-2014   #15 (permalink)
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Lots of great pictures, good work.
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