Mexico Day 9: New Year’s Eve in Playa del Carmen

I was up earlier than Caitlin and Marie again and headed to my new favourite spot (Pez Vela) to have a cup of coffee and write a bit for the blog and generally people watch and relax without disturbing the slumbering she-beasts… Apparently I snore so my life is already precariously balanced each morning so I do my very best to exit quietly and quickly so as to make it through another day… This morning was a close one as I hadn’t packed my camera pack the night before so there were zippers involved… I heard a lot of ominous snorting and huffing from the beds and got the heck out of there before one or both of them fully awakened…

Eventually Marie sent a WhatsApp message to let me know that she was up and ready for breakfast and would meet me at the hotel for breakfast… Caitlin didn’t want anything… So Marie and I had a leisurely breakfast of scrambled eggs with tomatoes for Marie and yogurt, fruit and muesli for me (the fruit and yogurt were especially tasty this morning) and the staff even put a small bowl together for us to take back to Caitlin who ate it despite saying she wasn’t very hungry.

We had thought of doing another day-trip today (Isla Mujeres seemed like a good choice or maybe Cozumel) but once Caitlin got herself set up on a lounger in the sun, she was content to work on her tan… Marie joined her… I stayed inside working on the blog and packing for tomorrow (I don’t do sun tanning… I especially don’t do the whole “lie on a lounger and bake yourself” thing. I burn. Then I peel. Then I burn again… But I did appreciate the huge sliding door that allows you to open the room up to the outside world without all the sunburning and sweating… Marie and Caitlin thoroughly enjoyed their roasting… I mean relaxing… time and we all enjoyed the down time…

At 2:35pm we were able to check-in online for our flights home tomorrow and were able to get seats together and paid the fees to check a bag for Marie and for Caitlin (gotta get all that cheap booze back somehow!). WestJet has recently implemented a new policy (as of August 2018) that baggage check fees must be paid in the currency of the country you’re traveling from so, of course, that meant we had to pay in US dollars… because we’re flying home from Mexico… makes sense to me… Seems the days of free checked bags even on international flights are well and truly gone when traveling on Canadian airlines

Eventually we dragged ourselves off the lounger chairs and out of the room and headed out to do some final souvenir shopping. But first we needed to get something to eat as some of us were getting a bit hangry… so we settled on a place called Rancheros a bit off the main drag – food was very good, prices were excellent but the service was on the surly side of grumpy… Caitlin was afraid to ask for the wifi password… and the beers were tepid… We could forgive the surly service but tepid beer is absolutely unforgivable!

After lunch we wandered around a bit looking for some souvenirs to bring back… we found a nice shop on Calle 2 just up from 5th avenue that carried some nice unique pottery items along with the usual blankets and stuff and bought a few things from the guy working there… There was a lot of flexibility on the price on a blanket (I wanted one of the typical very colourful blankets for the westfalia (started out asking 1200 pesos and we ended up settling on 300 pesos) but there was very little haggle room on the ceramic items which seemed fair as they appear to be pretty unique from what we’ve seen in other stores… Caitlin bought a small hand-painted bowl for herself.

We ended up wandering up Avenida Juarez a ways and eventually came across a sort of open air food market where there were guys selling the banana-chocolate-caramel crepe thing that Marie and Caitlin had wanted to buy in both Valladolid and Puerto Morelos but the lines were always too long… here there were no lines at all so they finally got to try one of them… they were worth the wait by all reports…

After that we sort of wandered back to our room and sort of took 5 (it was hot)… Caitlin read a book for a bit while Marie and I chilled out (literally because I cranked the air conditioning) in the room… Once we’d sort of recovered our stamina a bit, Marie and Caitlin headed out to do a bit more shopping while I headed to Pez Vela to use their wifi to put up a blog post and had a couple of cold beers while watching things start to build for New Years Eve.

New Years is a big deal in Playa with most of the action taking place at the intersection of 5th avenue and Calle 12… Lots of the restaurants do special dinners (like the one we’ve got reservations for at 9:30) and the night clubs party all night long… and then there’s just 1000s of people wandering around on 5th avenue with beers and tequila… By 7:30-8:00 many of the shops start closing down and the restaurants start putting out extra tables and put the final touches on decorations and balloons and whatnot and the crowd just keep building…

We met up back in the room to change into our New Years’ outfits… nice dresses for Caitlin and Marie and a clean-ish shirt for me… I’d brought pants but it was way too hot so I stayed in shorts… Caitlin and Marie looked stylish and elegant… I looked like I was going to summer camp… but I wasn’t out of place… styles for New Years in Playa seem to run the gamut from fancy evening wear to bikinis and flip flops… We were ready a bit ahead of our 9:30 reservation so we grabbed a couple of beers for the road and joined the wandering hordes…

At 9:30 we went to Los Rancheros where we’d bought tickets for their New Years special dinner… $84 each for lobster bisque, steak and lobster with baked potato and vegetables and cheese cake for dessert… along with a glass of sparkling wine and 12 grapes (when the bells start chiming midnight you’re supposed to eat a grape each time the bell chimes) and various party favours… As I mentioned in a previous post, they’d shoehorned a small table for us into a corner where we could see some of the action on 5th avenue and they’d done a nice job decorating (especially considering their floor had 3″ of water on it less than 24 hours earlier). They had live music playing on each floor (which was interesting for us as we were very close to the stairs so sort of had a battle of the bands thing going on). The rest of our fellow diners appeared to be more locals than tourists and everyone seemed to be having a pretty good time. The bisque was pretty good, the steak and lobster was very good with a sizeable filet mignon and a whole lobster and a decent helping of vegetables. Drinks weren’t included unfortunately and were quite expensive ($16 for a pina colada) and Marie swears there was no alcohol in hers… but she’s known for mixing ridiculously strong drinks so really can’t be trusted…

The only off notes for the evening were they had some difficulties with timing so lots of people (us included) didn’t have drinks or grapes in time to toast the New Year (they were only off by a few minutes so it was no big deal) and when it came time to pay they bill they’d added a 15% service charge to the bill but were very clearly expecting a tip in addition… This has been a thing at almost every restaurant we’ve eaten at in Playa (but not in Valladolid or Puerto Morelos) where they add an automatic gratuity or service charge to your bill (it shows up as either house service or H-S or propina on your receipt)… This wouldn’t be as big an issue if every single server didn’t make a production out of going through the bill with you to confirm that everything was right only to completely skip the propina every time. We’d encountered this before in Playa (some things haven’t changed in 20+ years) so were prepared for it… It was just a bit more aggressive on New Years… it wasn’t enough to ruin the meal or anything but was a bit annoying.

By the time we finished our dessert and paid our bill it was around 12:30am so we sort of made our way towards 12th Avenue (ground zero for New Years celebrations) and thought we’d drop down onto the beach and walk back that way… that was a definite no-go… basically the entire street from 5th avenue to the beach was packed shoulder to shoulder with partiers… there were fireworks… and music blaring from every doorway… it was pretty epic… Credit to Caitlin that she ignored one of the most awesome party moments ever and continued to hang out with her mom and dad on New Years… We headed back onto 5th Avenue and walked a block back to Calle 10 and then made our way down to the beach and from there back to our hotel… In retrospect we should have looked into what the beach clubs were doing for New Years a bit more as it looked like it might have been a pretty cool way to ring in the new year… it certainly looked like the people congregated on the beach were having a great time. When we got back to the room it was just after 1:30am and Caitlin wanted to head back down to the beach and have one last drink… I was pretty done in (big rich meals tend to make me very sleepy and don’t always agree with me) so Marie and her headed back to the beach – with a bottle of tequila in hand… They were back shortly after with pretty much all the tequila they’d left with because there really is only so much $10 tequila you can drink… even on New Years… There was some final picture taking in our New Years’ hats and whatnot and then it was lights out…

Tomorrow we’re on a 10:45am bus to the Cancun airport to catch our flights home… It’s gone by way too fast – but then what holiday doesn’t???

[wpvideo aPb49qVn ]

Leave a Reply