Beach Break #1
Trip Start Jan 11, 2010
20Trip End Ongoing
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And speaking of Monday mornings I have just got local insight into a problem previously encountered in Monterrey. In Playa del Carmen you can't buy alcohol at a grocery store Sunday evening after 5.00 PM. So I asked a fellow traveler, Mexican from DF, to clue me in: apparently these laws were meant to tackle somewhat of a tradition of locals getting drunk on Sunday evenings and skip work Monday morning. No clue on how much truth there is to this, but I'll drop it in my folklore bag.
I didn't resist my anthropological curiosity and took the night stroll through Cancun's Zona Hotelera. Definitely worth it except that Cancun's not made for strolls. Cancun is Vegas. Plus the beach, minus the gambling. Giant cash machine. All the household American brands. Didn't expect to find Hooters in Mexico, but hey, apparently Cancun's not even their sole location in the country. Frat boy party atmosphere. I'll be revisiting the subject pretty soon, when I start my smart ass cultural insight posts. What made Cancun even more interesting is Playa del Carmen next door. I might be buying into Lonely Planet clicheism here but it does seem that the former is geared towards the American market, while the latter has a more mixed crowd with plenty of Europeans. Cancun no doubt holds seniority in this relationship but to quote a favorite of mine, Vincent Vega of Pulp Fiction, " I mean, they got the same shit over there that we got here, but it's just – it's just there it's a little different"
Places aside I'm beginning to have a clearer sense of the Gringo Trail and the backpacking scene. This is a serious industry and while Hostel Playa might be a hotspot just due to its location in this very developed part of Latin America I'm sure the numbers are big, thousands and thousands of travelers in Latin America's hostels at any given time. The majority of those I've met are on 6 month plus trips, but also bumped into the round the world-er who won't return home till 2012 and a couple of guys who work north half the year and spend the rest down in Latin America year after year. I had some idea before I set out but I did not imagine this. It's a world unto itself, with a very blurred line between travelling and plain living on the road. I've met plenty of people staying months in one hostel, doing bi-weekly groceries, cooking a majority of evenings, and heading out in packs most nights. I certainly enjoy the infrastructure and the easy access to companionship but I'll be often getting away from this scene. Not yet sure what that means to my budget but will give it a go.
The Anglo-Saxons lead the way: Americans, Canadians, Brits, Australians, Kiwis, the whole gang. Scandinavians plenty as well. Germans, Dutch and French present almost everywhere. The odd Uruguayan and Chilean. Met four Poles in Merida. Romania has 3 pins on the map in the hostel's common area so that's a good sign :-). I'll be updating this random mapping as I go. Israelis get my deepest respect for punching way above their weight. For a nation of seven millions it's amazing how they're everywhere. Probably the whole 2-3 year compulsory military service thing has a lot to do with it. Regardless I am impressed by their travelling culture and sure they're all the better off for it.