One last dip in the pool this morning at Piramide Inn in Piste and it’s off to check out some cenotes. Cenotes are scattered all over the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, are result from collapsed earth exposing underground groundwater caverns. Opting for two that don’t have the tourist buses arrive all day, and not being an absolute rip off like the ones on Yucatan’s Riviera Coast, we took the right hand turn towards Valladolid, with the two cenotes of Samula and Dzitnup just a short bumpy drive away.
Climbing the slippery stairs into the depths of Samula, we were the only people inside and soon are in the refreshing waters, swimming alone with widened smiles. Sitting on the edge of the water, your feet are shortly approached and nibbled at by the schools of small fish that live here…and to think people pay ridiculous money for this pleasurable treatment! With manicured feet, it was time to head over to the Dzitnup Cenote and its impressive stalactites and tree roots entering the depths, which you can swim right up to and underneath.
This one has a larger pool, and the seeds from the looming tree above are dropped through the small opening above into the ceiling of the cave by the local bats that have smartly made this gorgeous place their home. We wondered at first why a man with a rubber ring, looking like a swim school for adults, was swimming around with a net in his hand! Loving the lack of tourists and the cooling waters of the cenotes, it was again difficult to tear ourselves away and onto the next tourist trap – Playa Del Carmen.
Not wanting to stay in Playa Del Carmen as it’s over run with foreigners, we opted to check out some campsites along the coast. Many that we’d looked up online had since closed or been sold to the major resort developers, which is a shame as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to obtain a secure place to stay. One place still open, though going through massive development, is the resort of Paa Mul, a pleasant setting on the beach that’s home to many ‘seasoners’ that spend the North American winters migrating to the South.
The one thing that turned us away was the stupidly expensive price tag of 400 Pesos (USD $ 30!) to basically park in the carpark in the middle of the entrance road! No thanks. Hate to think how much the long termers spend. Taking our chances we drove back up to Playa and parked up next to the Parque 28 de Julio, complete with portaloos from a recent festival. Leaving the car to cool down (it gets hot in there when the engines been running) we headed to the famous 5a Avenue and tourist central.
Pulling up at Yo Amor Tacos (I Love Tacos) for their happy hour of large beers for 80 pesos (Playa remember) we set in and blogged our little hearts out with the football on the television. With the place starting to get busy Matt found a craft beer pub on the same road (he’s got an uncanny knack for this), and we ventured out to find it. Not five steps down the road and the heavens open up and soas us with it’s ensuing deluge.
Looking like a pair of waterlogged drowned rats we arrived at the mellow Club De la Cerveza to the cheeky smiles of the staff. Tucking into some Mexican craft beer from Day of the Dead, Cucapa, Calavera and Minerva (some of these at a steep price of up to $4 USD per bottle), it was definitely one of those indulgent moments that was purely led by Matt. Making friends with Eric behind the bar, the vibe here is more relaxed and attracts a more refined clientele that aren’t just here to piss up.
That seems to be the official vibe of the main streets of Playa, which is designed to extract money from you at every opportunity, at every corner. If it’s not the hot young girls enticing you to enter, it’s the shop owners trying to sell you wares, and if this fails, drugs. So if you’re up for a party then Playa Del Carmen is the place for you. The highlight of our shop front touts was the guy who followed numerous calls of ‘Hey Rasta look here’ with ‘Free haircuts here!’. At least he was original.
Morning breakfast was at La Coronela, a family run affair, which is a good cheap option with good WiFi along with great coffee. One thing that becomes increasingly noticeable is the amount of people asking if restaurants and stores accept American dollars. This to us is plain stupid, as these people don’t realise that they are paying more by doing so (plus you’re in Mexico idiot, pay in Mexican!). Finishing up it was time for a dip at the beautiful white beach via the quaint white church, only the morning was dreary and over cast.
Booking tickets the previous night for Cuba, we found a secure place to park the van. This was Mansion Giahn with a bloke that’s super friendly and accommodating. The house has two swimming pools, a billiard table and our room even had an interior Juliet balcony! The Mansion is located in the weirdest estate imaginable. Roads here are unpaved, bushes over grown, rubbish strewn everywhere, the less privileged walking or riding beaten up bicycles and some side roads barely passable. All this in amongst gated mansions, equestrian stables and Porsche Cayenne’s bouncing around.
Cooking some dinner in the huge communal kitchen, we called it a night in our huge private room, complete with ‘Blow’ style, drug den-esque, black marble bathroom.
Left wanting? You can find more Mexico photos on Flickr here.