Mexico is Vibrant
I am loving Mexico! The culture is rich with music, food, and art. Playa, widely known as Playa Del Carmen, was my first stop. Lonely Planet calls it the “hippest” town in Mexico and they couldn’t be more right. Cuinta Avenida (5th Ave.) is lined with trendy restaurants, bars, and shops, and the street is filled with people consisting of locals, expats, and the 20 million tourists who come here each year. This place attracts families, couples, and the younger generation out to have a good time. Going to high touristy areas like Playa is not the way I prefer to travel. I mean, how are you supposed to really learn about a new place if you’re staying in an area that’s all foreigners?? But I must say, this was a nice place to ease my way into Mexico. It’s completely safe here, even at night off the main strip, and it was nice to be around people that speak english who could help with translation. Last time I spoke Español was almost 5 years ago when I was in Costa Rica, so my Spanish is a little rusty, and by a little, I mean a lot 😉 I did, however, find a lovely studio outside of the touristy area and in the heart of all the street art. Graffiti is on my building, and every single building and wall you walk by in the vicinity. It’s tasteful, beautiful, and if you didn’t appreciate graffiti before, you will after walking the streets of Playa.
You will find all the different handcrafts Mexico has to offer here in Playa. I can’t take my eyes off the leather bags and colorful embroidery. If you love to shop, 5th Ave. is the place to be. And if you love to eat, you will find any cuisine here. Aside from all the hustle and bustle on the main strip, Playa has beautiful beaches with champagne colored sand and crystal, clear turquoise water filled with tropical fish. The vegetation here is just like Hawaii’s which makes me feel right at home. The other day I met a local who was a professional windsurfer and won the championships at Ho’okipa back in his day! Ho’okipa is one of my favorite beaches on Maui and has some of the best windsurfing in the world. Anyway, my new friend told me that Playa is on the same Latitude as Hawaii. No wonder I like this place so much 😉
Whenever I take long trips like this, I try to plan as little as possible. That way I never have a reason to turn down an opportunity that presents itself. So when it comes to places to stay, I will either book an AirBnB within a couple days of arrival, or in the off season (the best time to travel) book the day of or do walk-in’s – a great way to get a deal. The day we came here I was on Airbnb and found the perfect studio flat on 5th Ave, but outside of the hectic touristy area. The apartment has everything I need, and is less than a 5 minute walk to the beach and 10 minutes to the beginning of all the action of the main strip. It even includes 8 hours of AC use per day which is perfect for that 2 hour Siesta in the afternoons and 6 hours of sleep at night 😉
I focused on my home practice the last several days to help ground myself in my new environment and wasn’t able to check out as many yoga studios as I wanted. I did attend one class though at a lovely yoga studio called Yoga by the Sea. Located on the rooftop of the SOHO Playa Hotel with shade and a nice breeze. Although the hotel is only 4 stories, it’s taller than the majority of buildings here so you get a birds eye view of Playa. Most of the studio’s students are foreigners who return to their homes during the summer months, so I was fortunate enough to receive a private lesson from Arielle, the founder of Yoga by the Sea and creator of Yoga for EveryBody. She is a seasoned yoga teacher with a dance and Iyengar background and was the first to bring Hatha to Playa. Yoga by the Sea offers daily classes and teacher trainings. In fact, there’s a teacher training coming up this November! Click here to learn more about Arielle and her rooftop Playa yoga studio.
Right around the corner from the flat is a delicious local’s Mexican restaurant, XG. With a different menu everyday and a plate big enough for two at less than $4 it’s no wonder I ate here at least once a day. They also offer any kind of fresh fruit water for $1 – also big enough for two 🙂 Included with your lunch you will receive Pomegranate juice and a side of pasta (which also changes daily). XG, was my favorite restaurant in Playa.
Two blocks away from XG is a great healthy kitchen and juice bar called La Jungla. The owner is a young, local entrepreneur who was very personable and provided good tips on the area. I loved the cheap breakfast omelets and there breezy patio that’s shaded by a banyan tree.
El Oasis serves traditional Yucatan food which like most Caribbean food is an abundance of spices, lime, and of course, seafood. Especially shell fish! I loved the Mixed Aguachile. Ceviche with raw octopus, shrimp and fish. Deliscioso!
Next stop, Tulum! I hear nothing but good things about this little beach town. Pristine beaches, Mayan ruins, and yoga studios galore here I come…