Monday, February 20, 2017

Playa - meet modernization.

Let's see, what do I love most about Mexico and our home in Playa del Carmen? Hmmm, the people, the location, the food, the weather? All of the above!

Playa has certainly grown since we first started coming here in the early 2000's but I still love it and think of it as home, more so than the house that I spend the majority of the year at. Of course modernization takes it toll in every town and especially in a tourist town where the economy is run by the tourists coming to spend their dollars. The sad part, for me, is that in Playa the modernization becomes very American driven as we see more and more American brand businesses popping up such as Haagen Das - you're really missing out if you haven't bypassed them to try the local business, Michoacan (30th Avenue and 18th North) and their espresso or coconut ice cream -with shreds of coconut throughout; Starbucks - try Ah Cacao next time, there are 3 locations along 5th Avenue - support local businesses; or Victoria Secrets - however there are no bras sold there???

There are malls popping up along 5th Avenue and they are being occupied by high end shops. The tourists seem to think that since they are in Mexico they should get the "deals" like you used to find in years past when you came to Mexico. The problem is they think that since these high end shops are in Mexico they should get these same "deals" but it just isn't so, being an American or Canadian shop when the prices go up in those countries they go up in the Mexico locations as well, so don't be disappointed when you go in there.
Like every business person in every part of the world the object is to earn an income and rightly so. You can still find those "deals" from yesteryear, although not from the brand name stores, but you will have to go away from the tourist area to find them.

Even the city structure has changed; a few years ago they built a big highway overpass system so people just needing to go through Playa on their way elsewhere can do so without adding more traffic to the local streets. Then they confused people a bit by changing the road behind Walmart (yes even in Playa) from a one way street to a two way street. There are VERY few 2 way streets in Playa so we tend to only look the one way before crossing so we need to remember when we come to this particular street to be extra cautious. Also as a pedestrian in Mexico please be aware that unlike Canada and the US, in Mexico the pedestrian DOES NOT have the right of way so don't expect the cars to stop because you are standing on the corner or don't think you can just step off the curb.

When we first came to Playa 5th Avenue, the pedestrian street with the nightlife, shops and restaurants started from Juarez and came over to just past Constituyentes. Now you can stroll for miles along 5th avenue. It's a great street for the early morning joggers as the stores are not open so there's very few people about and there is no vehicle traffic on that street; even bicycles are not permitted. Playa is still by far my favorite place to be but I must admit that I miss the more local, traditional businesses in town that are being replaced by modernization. Fortunately there are lots of small local villages that we can easily make our way to, to enjoy a day of local culture and support the people we love.

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