The road to Playa del Carmen

10Jul10

OK. we haven’t posted in a while so we will have to catch everyone up a bit. We left Tulum early and got back out on the highway and continued our ride north toward Play Del Carmen. We planned to go about 40 km’s to the small seaside community of Akumal. The seaside area of Akumal seems to consist mostly of over price mini-super markets and condos but at this time of year things are pretty quiet. At the end of the road however lies Ya Kul lagoon where supposedly some really good snorkeling exists. We found an amazing little hotel past all the condos that only seven rooms surround a small unique pool. As a hotel guest we also received a half price ticket for the snorkeling in the lagoon. This helped buffer the price of the place. In the afternoon, we headed over to the put-in and were rewarded with the gate keeper just letting us in without paying. We were not sure why. Possibly, the man with the money was gone and he just didn’t have time to deal with us so late in the afternoon. This has never happened to us in Mexico. The man led us down a short trail to the south eastern edge of the lagoon. Once we put our gear on and got into the water we were immediately surrounded by all kinds of colorful fish – almost too many!  They came in all sizes and shapes. We swam out through the lagoon and out toward the open sea where the waves started to get a little too choppy to continue. We were however rewarded with swimming through a wall of small silver fish. They were about an inch and a half long. There were millions of them and on the other side of them was a barracuda! Pretty incredible! We hope to do more on our trip. After swimming around for a little longer we walked back to our hotel. Dinner and late night swims in the pool until bed time. It has still been really hot during the day. This turned out to be a relaxing way to rest up after the riding 260 km’s in the last three days.

Arial view of Akumal

The above photo shows where we stayed (in red), our walk to the lagoon (brown line) and our route of snorkeling in Yakul lagoon (cyan colored line). This place was well worth the trip and we were glad we came.

The next day we awoke and  packed up and headed out for a nice breakfast in town before we continued our ride north to Playa Del Carmen. We have heard that “Playa” as the locals refer to it is a wild place and that the party never stops in Playa. I guess we will see what happens. We only had about 40 km’s to ride today but it was still super hot out. We kept it mostly on the highway because Bryan’s rear bearings in his  hub were starting to make horrible noises. We rode past some interesting places though. We passed a guarded area where small shacks stood with awful smells pouring out of them. The place seemed trashed but there were a bunch of men sitting around in the ramshackle shade. The gates were guarded by men in towers and it didn’t seem like a place you would want to linger. They just watched us go by and we didn’t try the gate. The day was getting hotter as we approached town.

Playa is definitely a busy place but we able to find a hotel for not too much and only a couple blocks from the water. In Playa, there is a long pedestrian street that is a non-stop fashion parade. There is a heavy French and Italian influence here. There is plenty to eat and plenty to buy. The water here is unbelievably turquoise. We didn’t think it could get any bluer than Tulum but it can.  We walked around for awhile and went swimming out on the white sand beach. We were able to find some sushi for dinner which turned out to be a most welcomed change from the traditional fare we have been eating for the past five months.

A lot of the prices are in U.S. dollars here which is a bit odd for us at this point. The ATM’s offer either dollars or pesos. We are sticking with pesos because you actually spend less. You will lose about 3% if you spend your greenbacks here (not to mention how over priced everything is here).

The Beach

Corner store on the strip

Tiled manequin

The selection of the stores in Playa is quite broad and you can find just about anything you need here. There is plenty of fun funky food stalls a block or so away and parallel from the pedestrian street. The next day we decided to head over to Cozumel with our bikes for some Carribean island life. Our hotel was able to watch about half of our gear so we were able to travel a lot lighter for a bit.  These are our last days in Mexico and then will be returning to NYC via a five hour flight for the next and final leg of our trip up through southern .

See you in Cozumel!

Bryan and Debi

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