Monday, May 4, 2009

A single tall soy latte…with a mask!

By TravelGirl --

It’s about time! We finally encountered our first interaction with non-medical or non-government workers wearing masks! Wouldn’t ya know it…it was at American-owned Starbucks. Visualize this…we’re wandering along 5th avenue in downtown Playa del Carmen, zig zagging from side street to side street, eyeing the mouth-watering fresh mangos, cucumbers, and other fruits from the little Mexican ladies at the fruit carts, when we see a Starbucks a few storefronts ahead. First, it’s a bit surprising to see a chain in the quaint, village-like Playa del Carmen (especially compared to Cancun), however since Starbucks seems to be everywhere, it really wasn’t a shock. As we strolled past, we saw a gal wiping down the tables outside the store wearing a mask. We looked in as we walked by and saw that ALL of the employees were wearing masks. We couldn’t pass by the opportunity to pop inside to have a word. According to the young man behind the register, they were required by Starbucks to wear masks (see photo; you can’t really tell, but he IS SMILING behind that mask). American paranoia at work in Mexico. They stood out like a broken pinky toe.

We’ve had the chance to speak to Mexican nationals who regard the entire H1N1 flu scare as a “planned” attack by the World Health Organization to create paranoia around the world in order to test new flu strain remedies. After only having been here for three days, we are reinforcing our belief that this whole flu scare is just a bunch of hype. Many more people have died from the “regular flu” than from this new strain. Ok, enough of that for today, and back to the adventure on the beach.

Most of today was spent in lounge chairs on the beach, next to Bad Boys Beach Club. We got a bit of a late start today, so by the time we got into downtown PDC it was already 2 p.m. However, it’s never too late to order Coronas with shrimp tacos and shrimp quesadillas. Have I mentioned that I’ve been eating shrimp tacos almost on a daily basis here? I can officially say that I’m addicted, and I will fully admit that I am a shrimp-eating vegetarian when I travel. It’s the one living thing I’ll eat, but I’m also not convinced shrimp even has a neo cortex (so I don’t feel bad). No fish or other seafood enters this body though!

After several hours on the beach, we got antsy and realized we needed to explore. We spent the next two hours walking south along the beach, then up to 5th avenue, through a jungle-like dirt path full of interesting bird sounds and iguana-like creatures, to Playacar. The beaches there were not only deserted, but a crystal-clear light turquoise color with some shades of teal and blue. We frolicked in the water because we could. It was gorgeous. The oceanfront villas in Playacar looked mostly empty as we strolled past one, then another, then another, until we realized we had to make the trek back into town to grab a cab. Feet tired and bellies gurgling with hunger, we made our way back into PDC, headed to a bar showing movies on the beach, decided we were too old to stay out late and grabbed a cab to head back to the Royal Haciendas.

Tomorrow will be similar. When you find yourself in 85 degrees, nothing but beaches and white sand, there is no reason to do anything other than just chill.

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