Cancún, Mexico; Playa del Carmen

Latitude 21.16311°N Longitude 86.82614°W

Saturday, September 21, 2002

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Today were planning on taking a day trip to Isla Mujeres to swim and snorkel around the reefs, but Isidore forced us to reconsider. Hurricane Isidore, that is. The storm hit Cancún around midnight and by morning the city was drowning in torrential rain and gale force winds.

Well so be it! We decided to leave Cancún and travel down south to Playa del Carmen, an hour's drive away.

We checked out of the hotel and submarined through the streets to nearby Puerto Juárez to find out where the ferries to Isla Mujeres departed from, in case we still might want to go one day from Playa del Carmen.

After that we can back to Cancún city and ate an awesome lunch at El Rincón Yucateco. I had sopa de lima (lime soup) and cochinita pibil (suckling pig wrapped in banana leaves flavoured with achiote, garlic, sour orange, salt & pepper and baked in a bbq pit). Keiko had the sopa de mariscos (seafood soup). Everything was just fantastic, and a real bargain at less than $20. (Pause to reflect: lunch at Johnny Rockets yesterday cost more than this!?).

Later in the afternoon we reached Playa del Carmen.

Paradise found.

Parked the car and checked out half a dozen hotels. Negotiated a very reasonable deal for 5 nights at the All Riviera Resort, right on the beach. Playa is like a tiny beach community, full of tiny shops and restaurants. Very European flavour. We immediately fell in love with it.

First business was a swim in the warm turquoise water. The ivory sand was finer than sugar and squished pleasingly as we wriggled our toes in the surf. We had a long swim then walked all the way up the beach for a few miles until nearly all signs of civilization had vanished. Along we way we passed some very nice high-end hotels like the Shangri-La Caribe that were more secluded than those downtown. The beach cabañas looked very inviting if you didn't mind the steep price and the 20 minute walk into town. The storm was still blowing around us like crazy and occasionally a cloudburst would drench us. But the air and sea water were wonderfully warm and we could have stayed out walking along that beach all night.

Dinner was a delicious fresh red snapper, grilled at the Restaurant Jaguar, dressed simply with olive oil and roast garlic. Heaven.

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