Cancún is divided into “la zona hotelera,” a long strip along the beach where most hotels, condos and resorts are, and “Cancún centro,” the city centre with businesses and shops.
This time, we stayed in the city centre. Unless you are in a resort, there isn’t much to do in the zona hotelera.
Cancún Centro is fairly chaotic. Sidewalks and roads are bumpy and full of potholes, there is a lot of traffic and some areas are very crowded. Yet this chaos is fun and lively. Music blasts from unexpected places, such as farmacias, the hot and humid air smells of a mix of fresh tortillas, bread, beans and whatever street food is sold around.
People-watching is a fascinating activity as locals carry on with their daily activities. Buses come and go at full speed, dropping off passengers along the road, taxis pass them but everyone stops for an old lady to cross. Construction workers leave at 5 p.m. on the dot on a hot Friday evening, abandoning tools and a fresh batch of concrete, to head to the “Casa del Whopper” (yes, Burger King). There is a long lineup at the ATM… is it payday?
In the evening, we escaped to Plaza Las Americas, a gigantic air-con mall on Av. Tulúm. I hate going to the mall at home but such places offer a fascinating glimpse into the local psyche when travelling. For instance, I can tell you Mexicans are into shoes (tons of zapaterías!), love kids (there were many shops selling toys, and clothes, as well as some kid entertainment provided) and that the Mexican middle-class can afford fancy foreign brands.
After the mall, we went to the local park where locals gather in the evening. There, you can grab some street food (tortas, tacos, churros, etc.), browse the small outdoor craft market and let kids run wild. We did just that.
This park had the coolest kids’ entertainment ever: small electric vehicles controlled by a remote that you can rent for ten or twenty minutes, for a couple of dollars. Finally, I was able to “control” Mark!