I have been living "the good life" in Mexico for just over six weeks now. I love it, and I am seriously considering moving here for good. I may not feel that way in six months, but right now it's a strong possibility. It feels comfortable and just right.
In addition to the awesome weather and beautiful beaches, there are so many things I love about this town. Every morning I ride my bike to the gym and will be greeted numerous times with "Buenos Dias" by complete strangers. It's so civil and just plain nice.
I also love that Playa Del Carmen has such a large bike culture. At first I was a little worried about riding here since drivers are so aggressive, but I have found they are more respectful to bike riders than to other cars. The only thing you have to watch is crossing intersections, because in Mexico stop signs appear to be just a suggestion.
Shopping remains one of my favourite "hobbies," particularly shopping for food. Some things can be expensive (particularly imported products), but for the most part, produce is cheap. Part of my daily routine has become taking a stroll to a local store called DAC, which offers the best fresh produce and a good selection of international products. I love being able to buy avocados for 19 pesos per kilo (that's roughly $1.45 Canadian) and tomatoes for 13 pesos per kilo. The one lesson I have learned quickly is that if I see something I want I should buy it on the spot, because tomorrow it likely won't be there.
Speaking of shopping, I noticed that the local "Erotic Shop" advertises on their window that they deliver. What could one need so urgently that you would require delivery?
I am slowly getting used to "Mexican time," which appears to be a very real thing. I received an invitation to a wedding reception with the start time listed as 4 p.m.. I asked the bride "is that 4 p.m. real time or 4 p.m. Mexican time?" She said "Mexican time, so come at 6 p.m." I arrived at 6 p.m., and other than the bride's family I was the only one there. Everyone else arrived at 8:30 p.m. The funny part was one of the other guests showed me his invitation and the arrival time was listed as 3 p.m.! I just had to laugh.
Once the party got started it was full on! Dancing, singing, eating, drinking...a lot of drinking. I thought was a going to pass out with the amount of tequila being constantly poured into my glass. I kind of felt like I was being "screeched in." Thankfully I didn't have to kiss a fish!
At the reception we got into a discussion about wedding traditions, and I decided to have some fun with my Mexican friends. I told them that in Canada, the groomsmen play a game of hockey on the dance floor at the reception, and the first one to score a goal got to sleep with the bride. For a minute they believed me, until I broke out a big smile and a laugh.
We always hear that Canadians are the nicest people in the world, and although I believe that to be an accurate statement, the Mexican people sure give us a run for our money.
A few weeks ago I was leaving the condo to drop my laundry at the local "Lavanderia." My laundry was in a green garbage bag. Our condo maintenance man saw me leaving and reached out for the bag saying "basura?" I had NO idea what basura meant and didn't know why he was trying to take my laundry! He kept saying "basura?" grabbing for the bag and gesturing to the street. It took me a minute to figure it out, then realized he thought it was garbage and was offering to take it to the bin. "Ah no, gracias, lavanderia!" My Spanish is getting better slowly and I now know what basura means.
Although the Mayan Riviera boasts numerous resorts, I highly recommend choosing one of the boutique hotels in Playa Del Carmen to get a real feel for the town and the people. The public beaches are just as lovely as those on the resort properties. You can get a 70-minute massage on the public beach for $25 (as opposed to the approximately $100 you will pay at a resort).
When I came to Playa to look for my condo I stayed at an amazing boutique hotel called BE PLAYA (www.behoteles.com). The service was incredible and I loved the personal feel. Within a day the hotel staff were calling me by name. "Hola Paula, how is your day?" One morning I took a dress to the front desk and asked it to be sent out to be pressed. "No problem" said Oscar, the super friendly and helpful front desk manager. I went for a walk and came back 20 minutes later to find it pressed and hanging in my room. I inquired at the front desk about the cost and I was told "no problem, one of the maids did it for you." The people here are so genuine. I often ride by the hotel on my bike on the way to the beach and still hear "Buenos Dias Paula, como estas? It puts a smile on my face every time!