We’ll go Down! Town!

Petru had to work. The curse or advantage of remote work is that it can be from anywhere. So we had a couple of days where he needed to be online. I literally have hundreds of hours of vacation that I can never take so when I’m off it’s “Chuck U Farley” to my email. But his misfortune was our time off so we decided to swim a bit, and take advantage of the day by heading into Playa del Carmen. I had to figure out how we would taxi over. We went over to the main lobby and asked around – finally we were directed to talk to the bellman – he could call us a car for the round trip. That sounded like a good plan since we wouldn’t have to try to catch a return cab in town or something like that.

We waited and a shuttle bus showed up. It was maybe a 25 minute ride into town, and the driver dropped us off at a spot just off the shopping street. We asked him to get us in 3 hours, and he gave us contact information in case something changed and we were off. We walked just a bit when someone shouted out, “Hey, remember me, I’m your bartender!” A young Mexican guy ran up and shook my hand. I didn’t recognize him right off, but hey – if you are a bartender and you expect me to be able to recognize you the next day, you aren’t a very good bartender. He said that this is his day off and he’s working in his family’s shop. He then invited us to look around inside. We actually had plans so we said no thanks, said bye and headed towards the mall.

This was the same mall where we got our tickets for the ferry trip. Now we had some time to look at the shops. It was pretty upscale, all Spanish shops and thankfully for me the shops were air-conditioned. It was a hot day. Yulia and Sasha Took their time and I pretty much just looked around. I was nice to be in town for a bit – even if there wasn’t anything I wanted. Eventually I sat a a little plaza bar and had a beer. No use wasting a nice day when I could enjoy the shade. The girls finished up after a bit and we walked down 5th Ave – the main tourist drag. This was much more Mexican Plaza than Spanish Mall – and it had all the standard tourist spots – including a beat-up Senor Frogs by the water. We weren’t interested in that so we headed down the street. We walked just a bit when someone shouted out, “Hey, remember me, I’m your bartender!” A young Mexican guy ran up and shook my hand.  I could hear across the street, “Hey, remember me, I’m your bartender!” A young Mexican guy ran up and shook some other guy’s hand.

Oh For Fucks sake its a scam. They were looking at the wristbands to see which hotels we were at. I was polite back – after all this was masterful marketing, and we didn’t visit this guy’s family shop.

We walked a bit more – we weren’t looking for standard tourist stuff right now, but did want a place to eat. We found something up a floor with a nice street view and good music. They were mostly seafood so we have huge plate of ceviche and some beef and shrimp tacos, as well as a big helping of Guacamole. It was great. They also were bringing us doubles of each drink since it was Happy hour. Can’t argue with that either! Even off the street with fans blazing it was seriously hot. Sasha was getting light headed and I figured that she was getting dehydrated. After lunch we went down to a shop and picked up some Electrolyte water. She sat and rehydrated with that for a bit and started to come back to life.  It’s really easy to get hit by this heat.

We went back to the mall, met a few more of our bartenders, and hung out in a few air conditioned shops for a bit until our ride was back. It was a different guy but he had the right contact info, along with the snapshot of us to verify so we got in and went back. Later that evening we had reservations at El Gaucho – one of the non-buffet restaurants at the hotel. So Sasha rested in the room, and Yulia and I swam a bit.

Once we were dressing for dinner – I did something I hadn’t done in a week – put on actual pants. I felt so fancy. I called us a shuttle cart to take us over so we didn’t have to walk all the way there. Partially because I didn’t want us to sweat in the heat and partially because our feet were really getting tired from walking. We all came down and the golf cart took us around all the buildings to the far side of the resort where El Gaucho was. We actually made our reservations on time – and we even had an option to eat outside in the shade. There is a fake lagoon that runs through the resort (it was actually drained when we got here but they filled it back up and it connects all the areas by water. The restaurant had a small patio out over the lagoon in the shade, so we picked that.

All the buffet restaurants here have been top-quality, but this was a step above. Full-scale sit down dining, still included in our all-inclusive price. but we did have to pay for bottled wine. This was a steakhouse with an Argentinian twist, so we had salads and Empanadas to start. The empanadas were amazing. I could probably make a meal just out of those. We had some wine while we waited and one of the Tour catamarans motored up to our patio. A guide was showing off the resort to new people and El Gaucho was part of his loop. Our waited came out and I asked him if this was a Pirate attack. He smiled and snapped a napkin at the tour boat until they left. Oh yeah, he gets a good tip.

The steaks were great and served with homemade chimichurri sauce. We ordered another bottle of wine and a full round of desserts. everything was excellent. All the food at this resort has been off the hook. The couple next to us was on their honeymoon – so we chatted with them a bit and toasted their new marriage. They didn’t speak much English but everyone understands a smile. We walked back to the room after dinner. The sun was down and it had cooled off some – and we needed to work off those desserts a bit.

It was well worth the effort of putting on pants.