The Shermans have landed! We are tucked into our temporary lodging in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We have phones that work, including internet, we have groceries for breakfast and we had an amazing meal at a restaurant next door. Es bueno! It’s all bueno!!
Here’s how it all went down…
First, we spent a day in Panama City with some good friends named Albrook Mall. No, actually it was Shelly and Al but we DID have to go to the mall. We sheepishly had to buy yet another suitcase because our 4-suitcase limit had grown first to 5 (technology needed it’s own suitcase) and then to 6 (because everyone was over the strict 40-pound weight limit). It was silly to have brought 13 suitcases to Panama, purchased 4 new ones in Florida in June specifically for our travels, sold or gave away all the other ones, then buy a new one on our last day. But you gotta do what you gotta do. Bygones. So after a great day with Shelly and Al at the pool where they are pet sitting, we spent the few hours before we left for the airport solving a math problem of equal weight distribution among all 6 suitcases. Our careful packing of each person having their own suitcase with their own stuff was completely thrown out the window when the entire scenario was about weight. The disorganization drove me crazy but Dan had a system and by gosh he got it to work, somehow, some way.
In our commitment to not arrive anywhere new after dark (we have done that too many times and it never never ends well) we had to leave for Mexico in the dark. We got on the plane in Panama at 3 a.m. and got to Fort Lauderdale around 6, feeling like death warmed over. We did the whole passport/customs thing, then rechecked the bags and then waited for the flight to Cancun, continuing to feel like death. And not only death, but death who had to manage 6 heavy suitcases and 6 packed carry-on bags over and over again. I think I counted 10 times we had to load or somehow move the suitcases. Again with the suitcases! Nothing solidifies your vow to downsize like hauling suitcases all over three airports for 12 hours.
Anyway, we made it to Mexico with no issues, got our rental car with more lack of issues and even made it to our rental condo without issues! This is like some kind of parallel universe where things just seem to happen as planned. When is that ever the case?
We checked out the condo and received an orientation from the owner, including finding out about the garbage chute! I’m in heaven! The garbage issue in Pedasi was always a challenge for me. We had no garbage disposal so any leftover food had to be put in the trash. And trash pickup was MOSTLY once a week, except when the truck broke down. Or it was a holiday. Or the trash man had a hangover. So then if you run out of room in your can you put your trash in a bag on the street and within about 2.4 seconds some stray or not-so-stray dog is getting into it and spreading your trash all over your yard and the street. It happened more than once and it was the bane of my existence. Imagine my delight when I saw the trash chute at this condo. Who knew a trash chute could make me so happy?
Anyway, by this time it’s 4 pm it is time for the first meal of the day. The fact that we weren’t all melting and in a puddle on the floor is miraculous. We go to the closest restaurant, get great service and great food and we are instantly in love with Mexico. Did I mention the great food? They had tortilla chips and 4 different little bottles of sauce to squirt on them. We had to experiment with them all and discovered we loved the garlic mayo, followed by the chipotle.
After our meal, which was neither lunch nor dinner, the girls decided to check out the pool and Dan and I set off for a cell phone company to get our phones switched over. We found the company with no problems, went in and talked to a nice guy who promptly set us up with new chips, a data plan, some minutes and POOF we are done. Three phones all connected and working as planned. What? Really? He was great, very friendly, very helpful and very efficient.
Now that we have communication, it’s time for a few groceries to take back to the condo. I think we went to Wal-Mart by a Mexican name but I cannot be sure. But it sure looked like it and it sure had a lot of similar things. So we got what we needed for breakfast and were back at the condo by 7, happily tucked in for the evening
We haven’t had a chance to explore Playa del Carmen much but so far here are a few of our impressions: it’s busy. It’s an active, alive, happening kind of busy. It’s nice to see. A lot of people bike around or use scooters. Traffic so far isn’t too bad other than some long traffic lights. They have a good system for a pass-through town along with a frontage road from which to access businesses, and lots and lots of 7-11 type marts. Dan is happy to see fountain soda in his life again.
The people seem friendly and interesting. There are a lot of foreigners but they seem to be of all ages and from a lot of different countries. At any given moment you have no idea if you should speak English or Spanish to someone.
We do not get stared at when we walk into stores or restaurants. Tourists must be no big thing here because we blended right into our restaurant and our grocery store settings. We shopped and ate side by side with Mexicans and other foreigners and no one seemed to notice anyone.
The weather is pleasant. It’s less humid and much less hot than Pedasi. We ate outside at the restaurant and it was lovely. You don’t notice the weather when you leave the house because it’s just comfortable. Not hot but not cold either. My exposure is very limited so this could easily change but at the moment we are happy with it.
So in summary, we are really enjoying our new home country. We can’t wait to explore more tomorrow and see what it’s all about. A new environment seems to have given everyone an energy boost, lack of sleep notwithstanding. We are all excited and motivated to get out there and check it all out. Stay tuned for more updates as we discover it all!