As far as beaches go, those of the Riviera Maya are hard to beat, but as an anti-all-inclusive gal, I pushed for Russell and I and our friends Coco and Tricia to stay right in the city of Playa del Carmen as opposed to the mega resorts that line the beaches to the north and south. After weeks of research on Trip Advisor, we set our destination for El Taj Hotel www.eltaj.com, right on the beach and right in town. I was so excited at the prospect of having the best of all worlds without depending on taxis or buses. The “condotel” itself was a dream—excellent pools, restaurant (loved the sushi!), condos, drinks, and service. Also great amenities like gym membership looked like all the makings of a perfect week. There is nothing like a morning spinning class to erase all guilt about the previous evening’s mojitos and fajitas!
Over the week we had some great daytrips—the first arranged with Alltournative tours www.alltournative.com. A typical tourist excursion of ziplining and cenote swimming, but loads of fun all the same. I’ve only ever ziplined in Latin America and I like to avoid thinking of the safety of the activity considering being in the land of non-regulation and that just makes it all that much more fun. (Remember I said that when a cable breaks sometime) Another daytrip was down to the beachside village of Akumal—the place of the turtle. Russell and I made arrangements to dive there, but after the rushed morning dive and bad wave conditions, nausea filled our entire day and the afternoon was spent on dry land trying to recover. We didn’t even have the will to join our friend Coco doing offshore snorkeling with the sea turtles the area is famous for. Probably for the best as when Coco sees signs that say things like “Absolutely do not touch the turtles”, he does not think they mean him so he was getting chewed out quite a bit and it was more entertaining to observe this from my beach lounger.
If it were just for our swanky hotel, great days on the beach, and fun daytrips, it would have been a trip without event. However, the problem came at night. Remember, El Taj is right in town and every evening we walked to Avenida Cinco for dinner, drinks, and shopping/people watching. That part was great, however sanitized from real Mexican culture it really is. What became an issue was the period between midnight and 5 a.m. when the clubs came alive. These clubs lined the area about 2-3 blocks from our hotel and many of them were open air. That said, we were rocked to sleep nightly by the lullaby of bass—boom, boom, boom, boom…
Sleep was not an option. One morning on the balcony outside our room door, a bag mysteriously appeared. It contained cold beer and three bottles of chilled booze—all still cold! We never did find out the story behind this abandoned bag, but we did a great job taking care of the contents. Perhaps a token of apology from one of the DJs?
On the last morning—Easter Sunday, as we were getting ready to leave for the airport it was 8 a.m. and the club music down the street was still pounding. Surely the club had to be empty, we thought. Why don’t they shut the “music” (boom, boom, boom…) down? And so we sent Coco down to check out if anyone was in the club.
It was packed. At 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Easter Sunday morning. That was our sign to head home.
A new meaning for the phrase: Location, location, location…