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Old 09-28-2015   #1 (permalink)
sandflea
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Ten Years After - A Return to Playa del Carmen

Iíve previously been to PDC three times - the last time ten years ago, during the period before, during, and after Hurricane Emily. Since then Iíve been going elsewhere for vacations but I thought it would be fun to return to PDC to see how things have changed in ten years. Itís not looking good.

I used to say Cancun was like Miami Beach, but PDC was just right. Now I canít say that anymore. The amount of development that has occurred, both on the beach front and on Fifth Ave., is staggering. It now looks like the worst of Beverly Hills Blvd.. This is not a good thing. 10 years ago things seemed about right. There were long stretches of beach where you could find a convenient palm tree for shade, and not be exposed to the latest electronic music hits. Most of the stores on Fifth Ave. were low key, although mostly full of low-priced junk. Now theyíre high key, and full of high-priced junk. I have to wonder what things are going to look like after the next hurricane.

With one exception, mentioned below, the trash situation has gotten worse. There is trash *everywhere* - mostly plastic bottles but also lots of glass and whatnot. To me this shows that the locals donít have pride in PDC. When I visited before, I noticed a lack of trash cans, which could have explained this. But now, there are plenty of places to throw stuff away. Locals told me that there is recycling in PDC, but, if so, itís clearly not working. Maybe itís because plastic bottles have no recycling value. I did see a few people collecting aluminum cans, but for some reason, such people were rare, which is surprising because Mexicans seem to be very ingenious at making full use of resources.

The exception I wanted to mention was that the beaches seemed cleaner than before. I had originally suspected this is because so few of the beaches are wild like before, and now get cleaned by the new beach hotels. But, one day on my way to Punta Esmeralda I was amazed that there was a huge beach cleaning effort going on. Too bad they couldnít also clean up the town.

Speaking of Punta Esmeralda, this is a great beach where Mexican families go on their time off. The last time I was here, you had to either walk there, or take taxi over some badly potholed roads. Now, everything is nicely paved, and the beach there has been developed with usual beach facilities. You can take the local bus to get there. One great thing about this place is that thereís a cenote right there you can cool off in.



I decided to stay in a hotel away from the standard tourist area, partly to save money and partly to see what the real PDC is like. I found a great place - the Hotel Dorymar (http://www.dorymar.com/) . Itís on 30th Ave., near 30th St. There are few tourists in this area but it appears to be where many of the locals do their shopping and eating. Indeed, thereís a huge Mega supermarket a few blocks away, and even Walmart a few blocks farther. One of the nice things about staying on 30th Ave. is that this is the main route for local city bus system, which the locals use to get all over PDC. Itís amazingly cheap (e.g. 5 pesos) and it stops pretty much anywhere you want. It is a hot ride, since the buses arenít air conditioned, but I enjoyed every ride I took. I suspect I was the only gringo on the bus.

I wonít say much about the seaweed, because this is something that nobody can do anything about.

As a non-drinker and non-shopper, thereís not much left for me in PDC. Iíll probably not return.
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Old 09-29-2015   #2 (permalink)
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With one exception, mentioned below, the trash situation has gotten worse. There is trash *everywhere* - mostly plastic bottles but also lots of glass and whatnot. To me this shows that the locals donít have pride in PDC. When I visited before, I noticed a lack of trash cans, which could have explained this. But now, there are plenty of places to throw stuff away. Locals told me that there is recycling in PDC, but, if so, itís clearly not working. Maybe itís because plastic bottles have no recycling value. I did see a few people collecting aluminum cans, but for some reason, such people were rare, which is surprising because Mexicans seem to be very ingenious at making full use of resources.
Granted I only go once a year for 2 weeks, but every time I'm there I see lots of locals collecting aluminum cans and plastic bottles and cardboard. From my perspective, the locals are not the ones that have no pride, it's mostly the tourists that are the ones throwing things on the street and not using the garbage containers.
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Old 09-29-2015   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by wolfpf View Post
Granted I only go once a year for 2 weeks, but every time I'm there I see lots of locals collecting aluminum cans and plastic bottles and cardboard. From my perspective, the locals are not the ones that have no pride, it's mostly the tourists that are the ones throwing things on the street and not using the garbage containers.
There has been an abundance of trash everywhere I have been in Mexico, except in some city centers where there have been full-time employees picking up the trash.

The exceptions, as wolfpf points out, are those items that have some economic value - cardboard, plastic containers, cans, etc..

We had a water heater replaced a few months ago. Our fix-it guy put it on the sidewalk and starting leaving. I said "Fidel, do we need to dispose of it?" He said there was about 50 pesos worth of scrap in it and it would be gone in 15 minutes. It was gone in 5 minutes.
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Old 09-29-2015   #4 (permalink)
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Granted I only go once a year for 2 weeks, but every time I'm there I see lots of locals collecting aluminum cans and plastic bottles and cardboard. From my perspective, the locals are not the ones that have no pride, it's mostly the tourists that are the ones throwing things on the street and not using the garbage containers.

I live on the west side of the highway. There are not any tourists where I live. There are tons of garbage everywhere. TONS. It is one thing that I absolutely hate about Mexico. There is not a culture of recycling and littering is an accepted practice. Of course, that is not to say all Mexicans litter, but it is much, much more widely accepted here than in the U.S. I will defend my adopted country and its people against many things but saying that the tourists, and not the locals, are the ones throwing things on the street just isn't reality.

Plastic and garbage is not only discarded roadside but regularly burned here. The residents of the encampment on Colosio Avenue just west of the highway regularly burns plastic and garbage. I smell plastic burning at least three times a week from that area.
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Old 09-29-2015   #5 (permalink)
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I live on the west side of the highway. There are not any tourists where I live. There are tons of garbage everywhere. TONS. It is one thing that I absolutely hate about Mexico. There is not a culture of recycling and littering is an accepted practice. Of course, that is not to say all Mexicans litter, but it is much, much more widely accepted here than in the U.S. I will defend my adopted country and its people against many things but saying that the tourists, and not the locals, are the ones throwing things on the street just isn't reality.

Plastic and garbage is not only discarded roadside but regularly burned here. The residents of the encampment on Colosio Avenue just west of the highway regularly burns plastic and garbage. I smell plastic burning at least three times a week from that area.
Yep. And they have no concept of air pollution because here in Playa with its near-constant breezes all the fumes get blown over to the next block to the west, usually right into my window in the middle of the night. A polite word of explanation goes nowhere - they smile and nod, ever polite, and then continue what they're doing. Abating air pollution is just not part of the culture. Ditto noise pollution either. They think it's 'normal'. The Law of Cause and Effect has not yet been discovered in Mexico.
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Old 09-29-2015   #6 (permalink)
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Agree about the trash. It makes me so sad to see it everywhere I walk in the Zazil-Ha neighborhood, especially since there are fairly many of the big blue city trash cans around. The vacant lots are dumping grounds for bottles, bags of half-eaten food, plastic crap, and other junk. Aluminum cans, corrugated cardboard, and some plastic bottles do get picked up by some locals who recycle it, which is good, but in general, I'd agree that this is one of the "dark sides" of Mexico. And I love Mexico overall.

Same problem existed in Belize, where we used to live. It was very discouraging to see people taking such poor care of their beautiful country.
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Old 09-30-2015   #7 (permalink)
sandflea
 
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One More Thing ...

One thing I forgot to mention is something I heard a bunch of people talking about. This is what's going to happen to the Riviera Maya once Cuba is fully open. Will tourists go to Cuba instead? I suspect it will depend on what kind of development takes place there. If it's the Cancun (and now PDC) style of over-development, then that will attract one kind of crowd. If it's more the Costa Rica style of understated development then it will attract the other kind (and me).

This isn't going to happen overnight, but maybe in ten more years it will be time for another trip (and post).
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Old 10-01-2015   #8 (permalink)
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You are referring to American tourists only. While thats a big part of tourism in Mexico, lots of Europeans and Canadians go to Cuba and the Riviera Maya as well. I expect there will be an effect, especially initially, but there are more than just Americans travelling.
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Old 11-04-2015   #9 (permalink)
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We went back in June for the first time in a long time. Took the grandson for his graduation and told them about some great places to eat. Hemmingway's, La Siesta and others. Got down there and they were all gone. But there were some big malls, something you can't see in the good old USA.

Things have changed quite a bit and I'm not sure it's for the better. Also had the 'touch' put on us by the local law enforcement south on 307 coming back after dinner in Akumal.

I don't know that we'll be back, but Cuba is on my bucket list.

Jim
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Old 11-05-2015   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfpf View Post
Granted I only go once a year for 2 weeks, but every time I'm there I see lots of locals collecting aluminum cans and plastic bottles and cardboard. From my perspective, the locals are not the ones that have no pride, it's mostly the tourists that are the ones throwing things on the street and not using the garbage containers.

That has not been our experience at all.

Visit any popular beach in Mexico where mostly locals go to over a weekend or Easter or xmas week- garbage everywhere. I don't think I have EVER seen a 'tourist' litter.

low taxes = poor and unreliable garbage collection infrastructure -
and even worse littering education and enforcement of littering laws.
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