David Johnson's Travel Blog
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Chickens and Pheasants 2016
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Playa del Carmen

2015-11-07

tl;dr: I peddled down to Playa del Carmen where I found a small hotel and attempt to learn the ways of Mexico.

Well, that was a horrible night. Just as I was finally falling to sleep it started sprinkling. Afraid it might storm, I battled the mosquitoes as I put up the rain fly. The rain fly makes the tent much warmer. And it never did storm.

Think in kilometers. I peddled 50 kilometers into Playa del Carmen. Kilometers just seem more natural on a bike. Probably because they are shorter than miles. The highway was extremely busy, but I had a few things going for me: There was a wide shoulder. Most of the traffic consisted of buses, and the drivers are courteous. Jaywalking isn't really a negative concept here; people are constantly walking across the highway, so drivers are alert.

I realized that I was exhausted. Also, I am giving up coffee while dowm here, and that is rough. So I made a reservation with a hotel in Playa del Carmen. This is a tourist city so most hotels can be booked online. When I arrived, the hotel couldn't find my reservation and claimed they were full, anyway.

Think in pesos. So I pushed my bike a block and spied another small hotel. Upon inquiry, it was 500 pesos a night. In Dallas, currency conversion was 14.27 pesos to the dollar. At the Cancun airport, it was 13 pesos. The current exchange rate is 16.8 pesos. I knew the farther I traveled from the airport the better the conversion would be. There are casa de cambios all over. These are small stalls that publish their rates outside. They are very clinical. You walk up, slide dollars through a slot, and you are given pesos and a receipt. I eventually converted some money at 15.78, but I saw one as high as 16.2 later. The best exchange rate occurs at the big box store called Mega (which is kind of like Walmart). You can pay with US dollars at a 16.65 exchange rate, but you get change back in pesos. Walmart is 16.55 if the cashier doesn't claim they can't take US dollars. Anyway, I didn't yet have pesos for the hotel room, so the lady agreed to $40 US, which is a bit more than 500 pesos.

I walked over to a Walmart. This is the happiest, cleanest, most colorful Walmart I've ever seen. But it's selection was deceptively limited. They sell bicycles, but not tubes. They have no maps. I considered getting a better shirt for this humidity, but they had very little. But if you are into tuna, is there an isle for you! I've never seen so many cans of tuna fish in one place. It is tough looking at prices in pesos and trying to figure out how expensive something really is.

Think in Celsius. Back to the hotel room I turned on the air conditioner. It was set to 22 degrees. That's about 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

I took a nap until some kid of the proprietor started yelling the same thing over and over and over. And over. I think it was some sort of game. The rooms here are nice, bit they all face a central area, and sound travels through there. And over again.

Near sunset I decided to walk the tourist streets. The shops! Blocks and blocks and blocks of stuff. Every store employs people to try to lure you in. "Mi amigo! Something something something, yeah?" Apparently, folks are stressed around here, because there are several message parlors per block. When I did decide to enter a store, I was accosted every single time by an attendant. "Where are you from? What's your name?" Realizing they didn't really care, I didn't really tell them. I watched other tourists hand over this information with glee. These sellers are like mobs in World of Warcraft, in that they are location-bound, and if you can escape their area of agro, they give up persuit.

The weed dealers were a little more low key. They'd intersect with you in the street and whisper in a husky voice, "weed?" and nod off to the side.

I had purchased cheap shoes so I wouldn't have to wear my metal-clip bicycle shoes through the airport. I now have blisters.

taking a break at an abandoned building


easy to read signs


no shortage of billboards




Hotel Alux


elephant towels


colorful Walmart


Walmart sells ATVs


well that's just great


oceanfront




taking this picture prompted a lady to try to sell me a selfie stick

contact me at le@liverworks.com
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