Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Having a bicycle, even if it is a ridiculous, lopsided, pink bicycle two sizes too small for me, gives me wonderful freedom to get around the town.  I feel about seven years old when I am riding it and I keep falling over because I cannot stand up and coast to a stop like I do at home because standing up like that puts on the brakes.  Even so, I like riding a bicycle here.  Playa del Carmen has many "cyclopistas" or bike paths.  Some of them are beautifully landscaped and there is even one in the shade under the raised freeway, although it ended, without warning, in a concrete wall and nearly pitched me headlong into traffic.

I like the way Mexicans ride bicycles.  When I encounter bicyclists at home, they are usually dressed in spandex and furiously peddling fast bicycles.  The situation is much more relaxed here.  No one ever seems to be in a hurry.  I, who have hardly ridden a bicycle in a year, pass most of them without even trying.  This has caused me to take note of my tendency to hurry everywhere.  I am trying to slow down and move at their pace.

My Bathroom
I went for a run before school this morning and returned to find that I still did not have hot water, although at least I had water in my shower this morning.  This is apparently quite common, since my fellow students never have hot water in their house, either.  Since the morning seems to be the warmest part of the day here, it doesn't matter so much.  It just gives me good motivation to exercise before showering.

Dining Room


Living Room
Rosa came back just about the time I finished dressing and we ate breakfast together.  There seems to be some confusion about whether or not she is feeding me dinner.  I am letting it slide because it prevents me from eating things I shouldn't.  Last night, she made be a wonderful meal of eggs and carnitas.  She apologized profusely, but I was quite pleased to be presented with a meal containing no carbs.  I brought almonds, pistachios and Lara bars, so I won't starve.

Beach Looking East

After breakfast, I rode my bicycle down to the beach.  It was quiet down there at 9:00 in the morning.  I took some pictures and bought a bottle of water.  Next week, I will hit the beach in the morning while it is warm and then explore in the afternoons.  Even Avenida 5, which is packed with tourists in the afternoons, was relatively empty.

Avenida 5 Facing West

Deserted Beach Bar
Avenida 5
The Cozumel Ferry Pier

School Location
I decided to go to school a little early so as to use the wifi before class, but my teacher got there as early as I did.  We decided to go to the park, as the workers were still jackhammering next door.  The park is fairly pleasant in the morning when there is still some shade.  We spent the morning practicing the passive voice in various present, past and future tenses.  At noon, we repaired to a restaurant for coffee.  I wind had blown up and it was getting chilly.  By 1:00, the restaurant had become too noisy for us to hear each other, so we went back to the school.  We had been told that the noise ceased about that time and it was, indeed, quiet over there.  This school may be disorganized (The organizers are located in Mexico City and have no idea what is happening here in Playa.), but it is hard to beat having a private instructor for four hours per day.

After class, I went to the beach with the other two students.  I wanted someone to watch my bag while I went in the water but, unfortunately, I forgot to change into my swimsuit before leaving the school, so I still didn't get to swim.  It was very windy and the fine, white sand was blowing everywhere.  I tried to read for an hour or so before we finally gave up.  It was rumored that the water was warmer than the air.  I may never get the sand out of my Spanish dictionary.

The others met a friend and went off to do whatever twenty somethings do and I explored the area near the Cozumel ferry.  There is a huge sculptured gateway with a Mayan design at the entrance to the plaza there.  It looks like there are performances there sometimes.  There was a group of men in native costumes lounging about, but they weren't doing anything interesting when I passed by.

I decided to take my bike and go off in search of the hotel where I will be staying next week.  The hotel zone is a nice place to bicycle.  It is shady and through traffic is limited.  I could barely feel the wind that had driven us off the beach.  I found the resort at the far side of the zone.  I tried to slip in and take a picture, but the security was very tight and they wouldn't let me in.  Pedestrians were passing unmolested, but I guess my Mexican bicycle gave me away.  There are two Viva Wyndham resorts here in Playa del Carmen, the Viva Maya and the Viva Azteca.  They are next door to each other.  My teacher seems to be very familiar with them.  She tells me that guests are free to use the facilities at both resorts.  My friend, Erika, and I will be staying at the Viva Maya.  Maria Elisa told be that a whole section of the Viva Azteca is given over to Italians, so maybe I can thoroughly confuse myself by trying to practice my Italian.  There is a Starbuck's across the street, so I stopped there after my failed reconnaissance mission and had a frappuccino before leisurely riding back to the house.

Between my morning run to the north edge of town and my afternoon explorations, I have now seen most of Playa del Carmen.  Unfortunately, I have seen (and heard) a lot of really obnoxious Americans.  I often wonder why people who want to have everything just like they have it at home bother to travel?  I feel sorry for people who can still be miserable when they find themselves in paradise.  I do not, however, particularly want to be around them.  One of the nicest things about staying with local people when I travel is not living with a bunch of other tourists.  It's also a lot cheaper.  I am paying less for a week here than I would have to pay for a night at a resort if I didn't have a timeshare.  Food and drink is also about a third as expensive in this neighborhood as it is on Avenida 5.  I am pleased.

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