Skip to main content

A Strange Familiarity


Globalization travels along many different wavelengths and frequencies but always with the same familiar shape -- golden arches.  I was a little uncertain taking the cab into Playa Del Carmen as I wasn't sure what to expect.  I'd been by and it looked like mid-sized coastal city but I'd never been to the tourist area.  Now, I've been to tropical 'tourist areas' that were hot urban sprawl nestled between megamalls and others that were barely a group of markets with a gravel lot for buses.  Hell, I'd been to one of the latter on the way to Chichen Itza.

I needn't have any concern at all.  There would be no fear, no worry, no potential for trouble.  Playa's Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida) is the perfect representation of the modern tourist trap.  Some street entertainers, including a living statue so good it actually freaked me out, with some local colour and restaurants all the while layered with the usual diaspora of global branding--Old Navy, The Nike Store, Haagen Dazs, McDonalds.

Any thoughts of the potentiality of too-much-foreign-ness evaporated when Carlos, my cab driver, took me to the drop-off point, right beside the Scotiabank.  "Easy to remember," he said, "Because it's right across from the Forever 21."  As the trepidation left me, so did any sense of excitement.  Still, I paid for the cab ride.  I thanked him and headed down to the avenue proper, a street set aside strictly for pedestrian use but intercut occasionally by a throughroad.

I have to admit, the planners did a smash-up job.  The area was clean.  Bookended by malls but with less foreign stores on the avenue proper to ensure it didn't feel too corporate.  Barkers selling wares on the street but not so many that it felt too intimidating.  Restaurants of many of different stripes but most selling some derivation of local food, to make sure it didn't feel too un-Mexican.  It wasn't too anything.  And maybe, from a travelers perspective, that sounds damning.  But for someone looking to see something slightly new, safely, with a family?  Quinta Avenida is exactly what they're looking for.



The main square near the far end housed the ferry transfer point to Cozumel, famed stop for Caribbean cruises. The square was open, and currently being worked by a local traditional dance troupe.  It held the lovely view of the ocean with a rather impressive statue guarding the shore from the waves.

I bought myself a steak for lunch.  The resort's meals had been good for the most part but their feature dishes -- the literal meat of the meat and potatoes had been somewhat lacking.  So I got myself a rib-eye at a high-end place by the street.  It went down nicely.  I firmly believe it's always a better vacation if it has a rib-eye in it somewhere. 

After a little more looking around and a small ice cream break, Carlos met me back at the Scotiabank at the appointed time to ferry me back to the hotel.

I had fun at Quinta Avenida, not too much.  But enough.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Continuing Adventures...

It's been a long time since I last typed out words in this somewhat crappy (though reasonably improved!) blogger interface.  I ran my own site for a while before I realized my ROI on that was basically zero.  I have been bitten by the travel bug yet again, and so I decided to resurrect this rusty bag of digital bolts.  Anyways, some updates for you 1-2 readers who probably already know me anyway.

1.  Dave the Charger has gone to the farm upstate.  By that I mean I sold his ass back to the dealer.  Dave was a good car and we had some good times.  But in winter he failed me, and so he needed to go.  It was probably my fault for buying a rear-wheel drive car in Canada anyways.  Now I feel bad for Dave.

2.  In honor of my sudden sympathy for Dave the Car, I have decided that all cars I drive for the purposes of this blog (and there may be many) shall be referred to as Dave.  If any people-Daves happen to be met during my travels they will be referred to as Dave Jr to ensure no confusion…

Ireland, the Devil, and Me

The Irish have a saying, "May you already be in heaven before the devil finds out your dead."  Our bus driver told us that as he dropped us off back in Dublin after a long day out in Northern Island with a quick ride through Belfast, and up along the northern coast to the Giants Causeway--a span of basalt pillars reaching out into the sea.



Maybe I was expecting too much.  Maybe I've been spoiled by the Grand Canyon.  But I found the Giants Causeway somewhat unimpressive.  It was weird shaped rocks by the sea basically.  I will admit the overall tour was pretty good.  We saw the peace walls still separating the Catholic and Protestant sections of Belfast.  And we got to see a bunch of trees that were apparently used in Game of Thrones.  The weather started bad but ended up prettying itself up quite nicely.  The tour itself was only 50 Euros--probably one of the best tour deals I've ever been on.

Incidentally absolutely no passport checks entering Northe…

Tales of Chichen Itza

Canek had been awaiting a sign but none had come.  His priests had sacrificed a captured boy from an enemy state by throwing him into the sacred cenote to drown, but there was nothing.  The king had called together a game in the ball court--it had lasted hours and both teams had played honorably--the winning captain met his death with no fear.  Still, nothing.

Kukulkan was real, the king knew, as real as the seasons and the harvest--everyone had seen the god's undulating shadow come down the temple steps every spring to bring life to the crops to come.  But, he also knew that the winged serpent was nowhere near as predictable as the stretch of days, so long ago mapped out by the learned men of the Mayan people.

Kukulkan was displeased at him, for taking his finest warriors to Uxmal and taking Sac-Nicte for his own.  She was so beautiful, and she loved him, in a way that Ulil would never know.  But Canek had broken tradition, had broken the laws of the Maya, and for as long as the…