I woke up and headed straight to Oxxo, the ubiquitous convenient store (think of it as a Mexican Tim Hortons with a 7/11 twist—there is one on every block and they open 24/7) to grab a cup of coffee. I marvelled at the weather: sunny, bright and warm with a light breeze, the exact opposite of the last few weeks in Canada where I felt trapped at home, in the darkness (no, this isn’t just a metaphor—when it’s that cold, you are trapped at home and there isn’t much daylight!).
Then I took Mark with me to Chedraui while Feng packed his stuff. I love Chedraui. Yes, it’s just another big-box store, a regular supermarket… but it has everything and beyond, and above all, everything looks exotic and new to me. First, there is the huge bakery with dozens of fresh breads, pastries and other dulces to choose from. Then the dairy section, as extensive as in France. Fresh food, veggies, exotic fruits, spices, clothing, appliances—everything is different!
That is from a woman who spent hours at Walmart, Food Basic and Loblaws in Ottawa trying to fill the days with Mark. I stocked up on baby food (and yes, pastries—trying to overcome my issues with food, see!) and packed. Off we went.
We stopped at the gas station (we are driving a rented Renault car), grabbed a couple of drinks (non-alcoholic, of course) and headed to Porto Morelos, our next stop. This is a small town we had never been before.
Mark passed out in his car seat (we bought one the first night we arrived, we didn’t fly with ours!) and Feng and I were able to enjoy the 40-minute drive in peace.
We had no hotel reservation but got lucky with the first place we showed up at, Ojo del Mar. I even scored a discount on the room, right by the beach.
Porto Morelos felt like a very small town—well, it is—after Cancun. I was expecting something more touristic, with resorts and tacky souvenirs. Instead, it felt like being on an island like Caye Calke or Utila. Sure, the main industry is tourism but it retains its charm past the main street filled with sun-burnt tourists sipping cheap cerverza.
In the afternoon, we walked around the town and stopped at the zocalo where Mark played with other kids. I’m not sure whether it is because everything is new and fun to him or because the Mexican formula milk gets him high or something but he ran around for over an hour, from one end to the plaza to the other! Eventually, we realized that he wouldn’t get tired of it so we put him back in the stroller and headed back to the hotel to rest for a while.
We had dinner at Los Gauchos, a nice Argentinean restaurant close to the plaza. Bonus: a band was playing live music and 1) they were too loud to even attempt to have a conversation (just as well, we were exhausted) 2) Mark loves music and was quiet for the entire meal.
We had considered staying a couple of nights in Porto Morales but because the town is so small, we decided to drive to Playa del Carmen the following day.