The return to Mexico

Making the return journey from Havana, we again had a short stopover in Panama City, one of the nicest airports that we’ve seen in Central America.  Now there’s only one way out of Cancun airport, and that’s via a stupendously expensive taxi.  These guys are run part privately part by the cops, with payoffs to pick up passengers, as we found out speaking to a taxi driver dropping passengers off (he wasn’t allowed to pick us up and had to make his return journey with empty seats, go figure).

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
Playa del Carmen

Wanting USD$30 for a 10 min ride when it only cost us 150 pesos (USD$10) for the same ride on the way in, we weren’t going to pay, so sticking it to ’em we shouldered our backpacks and walked out of the airport, which we’re not sure is allowed as the pavement quickly runs out. We stuck out the thumbs and had some employees pick us up and drop us off at the end of our road for only 100 peso. And by the end of the road, we mean a 10 min trudge through the strange neighborhood mentioned here.

Best street park in the shade all tip.  Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
Our shady campsite for a couple of nights, backstreets of Playa del Carmen, with friendly gay neighbours!

Getting the car back at Giahn B&B, it wasn’t it’s usual self, having accumulated some additional creaks and squeaks after being too long parked. We collected PC and got out of there southward towards Tulum, making it no further than Playa Del Carmen and the Club de la Cerveza. Popping in to greet Eric again and tell him about our Cuban antics, we slept in a sweet as shaded back street under a huge tree, being greeted by a couple of local gay guys who made the apartment out front with it’s revolving door of party people home.

 Playa Corona.  Cozumel, Mexico.
Playa Corona, Cozumel. Save your money and stay in Playa del Carmen

Damn old cars.  A persistent knocking [noise on applying the brakes soon became a worry, and after researching for mechanics on Yelp we ended up behind the Fire Station to what we thought was an American mechanic.  Turns out he’d left back to the US so we let the young guy look at it.  Turns out that all we needed was to have the front end cleaned and lubricated.  An English speaking guys working there for a few month informs us that the guy is only good for minor things and has had many customers return to rectify previous works. Basically don’t come here if you need more than a tire changed.

 Playa Corona.  Cozumel, Mexico.
Snorkelling on Cozumel at Playa Corona

Whilst waiting for the Monday for the mechanics to open, we wasted (and we mean wasted) our time and money on a ferry trip across to Cozumel island.  We’re sure the stories are true and the diving here is spectacular, and the snorkelling wasn’t too bad (apart from the huge evil fish that would circle you in pairs until you swam out of their turf), but for USD$26 return each, you might as well stay on PDC if you’re here for the beaches. The ride across was so choppy the staff were flat out running around  handing our spew bags, and we had front row seats to the hordes of tough guys racing downstairs to take their turn in the bathroom spewing. We took the bikes across and road 10km down the west coast to a little bar at Playa Corona that we’d read was a great place to chill.

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
Unless you’re diving, we’d recommend staying back in Playa del Carmen

The staff were extremely sullen and rude, but I guess you’d be too if your boss pointed his finger in your chest and screamed at you in front of guests ‘How many times do I have to tell you, are you stupid!’. At least the hammocks were comfortable, even if the shrimp nachos were shit. They’ve used some sandbags to create an easy walkway into the reef, and  the purple fan coral swaying backwards and forwards with the waves if pretty relaxing. Just expect to pay USD$12 to hire a snorkel, buy some overpriced food, or pay USD$5 per person to hangout here for the day.

Back in the main ferry town the prices are all jacked up and given in USD, except the cheap Chinese takeaway place we found up a side street.  The highlight of the trip was watching the finishing stages of the international Ironman competition that had taken over the island, and getting cheers and waves as we rode down the same road on Pedro and Jesus.

Ironman.  Cozumel, Mexico.
Ironman competition on Cozumel

With another day to waste we took our own advice and stayed in PDC. The weather was warm, sunny but windy. A jazz festival was taking place on the beach so we pulled up a piece of sand right by the stage, and watched swarms of locals run up to the back of the stage to take selfies with some popular musicians. If you’re looking for a cheap feed in PDC, get off the tourist thoroughfare. There’s a super cheap local eatery on 20th between 1st and 2nd with 9 peso tacos (buy five and get a free drink), and you can get cheap fruit and veg from the small shop just across the road. The place was full of locals when we came.

Cheap local food.  Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
Get out of the PDC tourist traps and find some fresh, cheap local food 

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