I often joke that I did all my traveling backwards. Most people explore their home country / continent first, then move on to other places in the world. I started exploring in reverse, first in the Middle East, then being stationed in Europe and Asia, before later returning home to the US with a newfound sense of adventure and curiosity.
I first traveled to Rome to celebrate the anniversary of a friend’s bar. The celebration commences but he is nowhere to be found. After a few days I return home to Colorado and get back into the grind of my job at the time when I finally receive a text from my long-lost Roman friend, “bro, come to Mexico.” I have a lot of questions, but I am honestly not too thrilled to be back at work and it is a harsh winter in Denver, so I book a flight that evening just to escape again.
Playa del Carmen
A day later my flight lands in Cancun. The humidity hits me before I even disembark the plane. Whoa. It is mid evening but very warm. There are palm trees everywhere, the airport’s small and I make it I board an old bus for the 40 or so minute ride to Playa del Carmen. There’s tv’s onboard and they are playing Blue Streak which stars one of my favorite comedians, Martin Lawrence, except dubbed in Spanish. Hilarious and unexpected. The locals and I exchange a couple curious glances. They are short, nice tan complexion, friendly smiles, coming and going as the bus makes stops in small towns on the way to Playa del Carmen. We finally arrive and I am a bit in awe. Our hotel was right on 5th Avenue which is a major tourist strip in Playa del Carmen. I feel like I am back in Europe, in the south of Spain maybe, except I am only 3 hours from home, only one time zone ahead and the peso is much easier on the wallet than the Euro. I spent the whole first evening marveling at my surroundings. Everything I thought I knew about Mexico was completely wrong. Very modern, clean, tons of tourists. Familiar with a lot of American brands and chains but exotic at the same time with local Mexican bars and restaurants. That familiar feeling of adventure was back, I was immediately in love and had not even seen the city in the daytime yet. I think the biggest mind blow was that it felt like a summer night in Playa, with throngs of tourists enjoying the evening, outdoor clubs, people on the beach but it was only 2 day away from Christmas. I did not know that was a thing. Playa is the party and shopping area of the coast besides Cancun, so we mostly did touristic things here. Bar hopped, disco, taquerias, strip clubs, etc. I think if I ever lived in this area (a dream) I would probably live in Playa del Carmen and hang out in the other areas. It is very livable.