7th April Mexico 16

In the morning hung around over an hour waiting for the consular assistant to arrive. She'd been visiting the jail to check on an Englishman who had been drinking too much the night before. We did the papers, and I discovered that post, even air post, can take 2 months to the UK, so I found the directions to DHL. I then went on the glass bottomed to see the coral and inhabitants. The world's second longest coral reef runs south from here. Superb. Here's some coral.

and a turtle.

I took lots of pictures of fish too but they wouldn't stay still long enough to get the camera to focus on them!

I looked for DHL and on the way shot a red light. They hide them in Mexico. A policeman behind stopped me, told me I'd shot the red light, and asked did I have time to go to the police station? He said the fine would be about 600 pesos but since I was a tourist he could help me, if I gave him 300 pesos. I said how about 200? He said OK. Marvelous. You can even negotiate on bribes to policemen.

I found an internet spot, everything worked perfectly, I even updated my web site. Then I noticed a dentist standing at his gate. I had a chunk of non urgent work to do so I asked was he missing a client. He said yes, one hadn't turned up. So he did the work, very well, and said the price was 2000 pesos. I'd been expecting 1000 at the most, hoping for maybe 500. I said, I don't think I've got that much. So he said he could help, how about 1500 pesos? I said I OK. So you even negotiate with dentists. Next time I'll ask the price beforehand though.

As it was now dark I headed off for the parking spot I'd found a couple of days ago. The roads seemed sort of similar but not quite as I remembered them. I found a pleasant spot, next to a park, alongside a boat on a trailer with a flat tyre. So presumably it had been there a while and the locals didn't care.

In the morning I drove the length of the hotel zone, stopping for a quick look at a couple of public access beaches and continued south to Puerto Murelos. Talk about sublime to the ridiculous, I couldn't see a hotel when I arrived. Nor many people on the beach. I parked on the plaza which was next to the beach.

It was quiet. I bought another Mexico guide book in an English language second hand bookshop and headed of to an even quieter spot to take a shower. Damn, I was nearly out of propane. Not knowing when the next propane station would arrive, I daren't turn the water heater on, and took a cold shower. I HATE cold showers. I hate cold water full stop, which is one reason I don't swim a lot. I'd no sooner had my shivering shower (outside temps approaching 30 degrees C!) and turned my van round than I came face to face with a propane truck. I waved him down and bought propane. I didn't know whether to be pleased I'd found propane or mad that I'd needlessly almost frozen myself to death. I found another 100% perfect internet shop. Well, nearly perfect. They found a new scam. An extra 10 pesos if you use your own lap top! (Remember. 10 pesos = $1 = 1 Euro, and 1 peso = 1 shilling = 5p. More or less.)

So on to Playa del Carmen. My camping guide mentioned a very hard to find very cheap parking lot right next to the beach. It was right on all counts. In the evening I wandered round the town, next day I did the same, with a long beach walk thrown in. I like this place. Nice beach, nice high street paralleling the beach, loads of people having fun.

Couple things missing compared to Cancun. No endless rows of high rise $200 a night hotels, and nothing near as many attractions striving to part you from huge numbers of dollars. OK the high street is full of small shops trying to take your money but we're in Mexico in a tourist town. If I was into beaches and diving and snorkeling I would come here. No doubt. It costs all of 65 pesos ($6) to get here by bus from Cancun airport if you're interested!

So I'm here tonight and about to go find how the internet is here!

Best regards

David Barker

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