Since our trip to Coba we’ve stayed pretty close to ‘home’ in Playa Del Carmen. We’ve both been busy working (yep, still working!) and conserving our money for our upcoming trip back to the United States.
That isn’t to say we’ve been bored, as last weekend was Easter, and the week leading up to it was Santa Semana – or the holy week. In many countries this is probably a somber time of reflection, but in Mexico – or at least in Playa Del Carmen – this was just another reason to party.
One of the things I’ve grown to appreciate about Mexican culture is that the Mexican people love to have fun. I realize this is a generalization, and we ARE in a resort town, so perhaps it’s just here – but I’ve spent plenty of time in resort towns in the United States, and the typical US family is much more serious and conservative. Latin Americans always seem to be having a better time.
Personally I think this has to do with our Nanny-State mentality. Not to get on a soap box, but the US is very litigious, and we’re always worried that something could happen to us. There are fences and signs everywhere stopping us from doing something or anything that could result in injury.
On the flip side in Mexico you can stand 10 feet away from Fire Dancers that are spinning ropes dipped in Gasoline around in circles. This would require some serious insurance and barriers in the States – but down here I’m quite sure if you get burned it’s all on you. A bit dangerous? Sure – but also a heck of a lot more fun!
Speaking of which, here’s my video of the fire dancers that perform nightly at the Blue Parrot. This show takes place at 1am and is located on 12th Street and the beach (calle 12 norte). If you visit Playa Del Carmen area then I recommend you check it out. It’s fun to watch, and the dancers are talented – Just don’t stand too close and definitely don’t try it at home!
On Easter Sunday Kathy and I decided to seek out the ‘big’ church in the northern part of Playa that was mentioned to us by a waiter we chat with at our favorite fish taco restaurant (Las Pescadillas).
We walked up to the main drag, and then walked the mile or so through town and found the beautiful open-air church. Of course we were much too late to catch the Easter morning service – and much too early for the evening service, but we went inside to check it out.
The inside was as pretty as the outside – and the most notable thing was how open the church really was. Many of the windows are completely open – or just covered in lattice-work. The ventilation was certainly appreciated, and I liked the openness – instead of sterilizing the church from the outside.
After sitting in church we took a walk up through the local neighborhoods of Playa Del Carmen. It’s a bit shocking to see the disparity between the haves and have nots – even in a resort town like Playa.
Most of the homes are constructed of cement blocks – and very few even have windows or air conditioners. As a result everyone has their door propped open by a fan, and you can easily peek inside their meager homes.
It’s a bit shocking to see people living in true 3rd world conditions. It’s also easy to see why a lot of Mexicans head to the United States to seek out a better life – as a family living in a 20′ x 20′ cement block structure is no way to live at all. FYI – the home in this pic is MUCH nicer than the average home.
That said, the people here make full use of the outdoors, the parks, and the beach, so perhaps my initial impression is wrong.
In the United States we spend a LOT of time in our home. Our home is more than just a place to sleep – it also where we eat, work, get entertained, and so on.
I think that’s different in Mexico. Here a home is a place to sleep – but the town is the place to live, eat, work, and get entertained. The weather certainly plays a role in this, as it’s almost always nice out here – but it’s also a cultural thing.
Either way, I really appreciate the spirit of the Mexican people. Considering their living circumstances, they’re very upbeat, enterprising, fun-loving, and friendly. When I first got here I was a bit suspicious of their positivity, but now I recognize it for what it is – they really are enjoying life more than we are!
The Club Scene
I actually thought that the club scene would chill out over Easter weekend, but again was way wrong. I think that Easter weekend was the busiest (and loudest) since we’ve been here. The streets were absolutely packed!
I grew up in a religious family, and even though we had an Easter egg hunt, Easter was a time to wear your best clothes – shiny shoes and a tie – and to have Easter dinner and all that. It was fairly somber.
In Mexico Easter is a party! They celebrate the rebirth of Christ with gusto – which frankly makes a lot of sense if you’re a believer. After all, the death and rebirth of Christ is what christianity is all about, and is what allows sinners to go to Heaven, so if you’re Christian there’s no better reason to celebrate.
As we mentioned before our condo is (unfortunately) right near the clubs on 12th street. Kat and I are both late-night people, but the clubs here take late-night to a whole other level as they keep the music pumping until 4am or later (earlier?).
I figured I’d take a video of the street scene so you can all check it out. I was holding the camera against my shoulder, so it’s a bumpy ride, but gives you a pretty realistic view of the nightlife in Playa Del Carmen.
Where to From Here?
Kathy and I are leaving Mexico on May 10th, and we have a lot to do between now and then. We still plan to visit a Cenote, see the ruins in Tulum, and take the ferry to Cozumel to go snorkeling.
Sounds like a lot – but we actually have 8 days in which to do it, which is a lot more time than most people spend here, so I figure we should be ok if we get on it.
I’m a bit stressed out actually, as I’m so used to being in one place, and over the next month we’re doing a LOT of traveling. First we’re flying to California for a week, then back to Atlanta to get our car. We’re planning to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway and see the Smokies and Shenandoah NP on our way north, and ultimately arrive in Massachusetts on or around June 3rd.
We should be posting quite a bit during that time, so stay tuned for updates. Until next time, keep on trekking!