Moving to Playa Del Carmen
It wasn’t so long ago when I’ve heard for the first time, of a beautiful city called Playa Del Carmen. The city is located 65 km (41 miles) south of Cancún and it is a part of Riviera Maya – 135km of Caribbean coastline located in the eastern portion of the Yucatán Peninsula. I moved to Playa Del Carmen in March this year which I must say, was a quite spontaneous decision. And it was the best one I have ever made.
So how does it look like to have a fresh start in such a distant destination? Well, first you need to take care of your accommodation which wasn’t as simple as I would expect it to be. Since the sites you will find online don’t really have many updated rental offers, the only option was to walk around the city searching for a sign “For Rent”. In the meantime, you can always stay in a solid hotel/hostel for around 20 USD per night. An average price range of a regular studio apartment with rustical furniture starts from 150 USD, or on the other hand a very modern one bedroom or two bedroom apartment in a nice location for around 450 USD, most of the times all of the bills except for electricity are included.
Getting around Playa Del Carmen is very easy since the layout of the city is a rectangular grid split into Calles (Streets) and Avenidas (Avenues). If you decide to stay in the center of Playa (which I highly recommend) you can basically walk to everything and the beach is also a short walk away. If you decide to find a home slightly outside of town, you will find much cheaper rental options but transportation will become more of an issue.
The city bus or a Colectivo van is a good option to get around the city, the various stops are written on the windshield so you will know where you’re going. Taxi is the other most popular form of transportation in Playa, they are everywhere 0-24 and very affordable. There are no meters, taxi prices are fixed and they range from 30 – 120 pesos (2 – 6 USD) but don’t forget to always negotiate and settle on the fare before you get in the cab.
Customs and culture
Now after all of the formalities (which you will get a hang of very quickly) is where the real magic begins. You can enjoy this beautiful laid back city where the main focus is on the beach and relaxing under the sun. I often caught myself walking fast while the rest of the world here was moving slowly. If you are, like me, from a city where everything is in fast motion, Playa will be a place where you are reborn. People are kind, relaxed and very friendly. A lot of closeness is in Latin blood I guess since they hug, kiss and hold hands all the time. A kiss on the check is beyond common every time when they greet friends, family, and even acquaintances. When introduced to new people they tend to kiss too, especially women. Men hug and kiss their friends too (both male and female).
Since Playa Del Carmen, as well as Cancún, has only around half of the century of existence, it is very rare to meet someone who was born and raised here. Most of the people that live here come from Merida, Mexico City and various parts of Argentina. You will hear Latin music almost everywhere you go, both modern and traditional. Playa Del Carmen, a true gem to be discovered.
Tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos, chilaquiles, tostadas, tamales are just a small part of a wide spectrum of yummy delights. The tortilla is the main ingredient for most meals as well as guacamole and frijoles (beans). Food stands can be found almost everywhere, especially in main avenues. Since the price of a single quesadilla is around 15 pesos (around 1USD) you can snack whenever your heart desires. Another thing that gets my heart racing are the exotic fruits, a beautiful gift from this tropical paradise. Not only are they delicious, healthy and cheap, they are also very accessible since there are plenty of fruterias (fruit markets). There’s nothing like starting your day with a bowl of fresh fruit mix of pitaya, mango, guayaba, rambutan, papaya, maracuja, carambola. The list could continue for days. The prices of groceries at supermarkets are also surprisingly low which makes it easier to treat yourself with your favourite meals on daily basis.
As for me, I definitely found my perfect match in this part of Mexico. It was an instant feeling like and belong there. I believe it would be hard for anyone to stay indifferent after just one look at this amazing turquoise sea.
For the love of Playa Del Carmen, a true gem to be discovered.