We decided to stay a third day in Playa del Carmen, mostly because the hotel was cheap, conveniently located and comfortable. But since we had seen pretty much everything in town, we decided to drive to Puerto Aventuras, along the coast, to check out the town.
Puerto Aventuras. Just the name is enticing. We couldn’t find much info about it but surely, it was worth the drive.
We passed theme parks like Xcaret along the highway, as well as the usual suspects—supermarkets, malls, fast-food joint. We finally spotted the sign: “Puerto Aventuras, 6 km.”
Six kilometers later (well, I assume it was six kilometres… I didn’t exactly check), we were greeted by a guarded gate. “What the hell,” I said. “Are we supposed to have IDs with us?” I tried to read the bilingual sign as the car in front of us was waved through, but all I had the time to decipher was a warning saying that if you didn’t slow down and if you broke the wooden gate, you would be fined 3,500 pesos. One hell of an expensive gate, if you ask me.
The guard waved us through and we didn’t have to produce any ID.
We started driving along a small street—it looked and felt like these gated communities in Florida or California. Palm trees, neat lawns, small houses and condos with “for rent” or “for sale” signs in English.
“I don’t feel comfortable here,” I told Feng. “Be patient,” he replied, “let’s see.”
We eventually found the “town centre”—or at least a sign saying it was the town centre. We parked and go off the car.
Here and there, gringos—presumably North Americans—were having coffee, walking their dogs or checking out the (English) paper.
“This isn’t Mexico!” I complained again. “Yeah, it’s pretty… clean.” “The word you are looking for, Feng, is sterile. This is a sitcom set or something!”
Indeed, even the ubiquitous Exxo store was “hidden” in a neat little white building, no garbage cans in sight, no smell of coffee or hot dogs.
We walked around the plaza just for the sake of it and I begged Feng to get the hell out of this place. “Aventuras” my ass!
We drove back to Playa where we enjoyed the beach and, once again, walked the pedestrian 5th Avenue. I snapped pictures of the various souvenirs and the tourists for a change.
In the evening, it started to pour and we hid inside one of the souvenir shops for half an hour. I can’t even imagine this place during the rainy season—water doesn’t flow down the street very well and it gets pretty messy!