This post is a bit behind the times as we actually left Mexico on April 30 at the end of our six months in Playa del Carmen, but I wanted to make sure to include these photos. These stones are at the exit to the Xacarat park, where we rode our beach cruiser bikes so many times, and we'd thought they'd make fitting goodbye photos from when we first landed in town.
We truly enjoyed our extended winter season in Mexico, even more than we anticipated. We're visiting with relatives in the US now so will be taking a blogging vacation for a bit.
Hope everyone has a fantastic summer, wherever you are!
Even though Cozumel is just a short ferry ride from Playa del Carmen, we'd postponed visiting since our friend Shelby (whom we met in Belize) was planning to buy my beach cruiser bike. So we waited until the end of our time in Playa so that we could transport the bike at the same time as enjoying a visit to the island.
This map shows where Cozumel is located in relation to Playa del Carmen in Mexico's Quintana Roo state.
There are three competing ferry lines making frequent trips back and forth between Playa and Cozumel, but all leave and return at slightly different times. We ended up on Mexico Water jets in both directions because of the times we wanted to travel.
Since we were heading right into the stiff easterly breeze, the ferry ride over to the island was pretty rolly. So rolly that the ferry staff handed out "barf bags", never a good sign. Fortunately we were both okay, but we were glad that the ride wasn't any longer than it was.
As we got into the lee of the island, the waters calmed, as did everyone's tummies.
There were three large cruise ships visiting Cozumel on this Monday. One of them is shown below. We worried that the island might be very busy with all the cruisers, but it wasn't bad at all.
As we arrived at Cozumel, the sky was overcast, but there was no rain.
Shelby met us on the dock, and the three of us walked over to her house, which took around 15 minutes.
Once there, we got to meet her friendly rescue dog Rufus. Shelby's house is large and airy, and she has a great courtyard. We were chatting too much to take any photos, but she's got a lovely place there, very quiet and private. We were envious!
After getting the bike saddle height adjusted for her, we piled into Shelby's car for a tour around the island. Specifically, she wanted to show us the "wild side", the windward (east) side of the island. And on such a windy day, it was a bit wild! No swimming or surfing was happening today, that's for sure.
We first pulled into Senor Iguana's for a great lunch right on the edge of the Caribbean Sea.
After fortifying ourselves, we hopped back into the car and drove just a short way down the road to our second spot, Coconuts. Although touristy, it wasn't crowded on a Monday, and the setting was awesome -- very jungly!
There's a great lookout spot up on the rocks...reminded me of a rugged coastline in the northern US except for the gorgeous turquoise color of the water.
We each enjoyed a huge and tasty margarita. Wouldn't want to have too many of these, as you have to negotiate these rugged rock stairs afterwards!
From there, Shelby drove us around the south and west sides of the island, past the airport (which we didn't even know was there!) and country club where she plays golf.
There's a small tourist area on the west side of the island, where we bought a Cozumel refrigerator magnet after Shelby dropped us off. By this time, it was late afternoon, so all the cruise ship folks had gone back to their boats, and town was pretty quiet.
We bought our tickets for the return ferry and headed back to Playa. This is one of the other ferry companies' boats at the dock, with Cozumel in the background.
Arriving at the dock in Playa del Carmen, the sea remained very lumpy.
You can see the waves up against the Playa dock in this photo as we approached in the ferry. Docking was a challenge for the crew, and disembarking the boat was a lengthy procedure; they had to let a few people off at a time, between waves.
Despite the less than perfect weather, we had a great time. It was fun to see Shelby again, and a win-win for us all to transfer the bike to a new owner who will, we hope, enjoy it as much as I did.
There was a short "fun run" at the track for young children beginning at 6:30 am (wow!), and the 5K/10K races began at 7 am. So I was up earlier than usual. Of course it was plenty warm (er, hot and humid) even at that time, but better than it would be later on.
The course started and ended at the track where I've run so many times. It's been closed for maintenance lately, so I've been running on the road. But it was open again for the race. Turnout was excellent, and there were plenty of volunteers on hand as well. The event was incredibly well organized. Mexico continues to impress me in surprising ways!
Superheroes and Disney characters were all there for the kids. Yep, even Captain America!
The kids who did the fun run got their photo taken with some of the characters. There are a lot of fit adults in Playa, and it was great to see children enjoying physical fitness as well.
Barry got up early and came along to support me and take all the photos. I really appreciated his help as this blog post wouldn't have happened any other way. I wasn't about to carry a camera along while I ran.
Here, I'm as ready as I'll ever be...just gotta get my number pinned on....
All the runners lined up behind the starting banner and showed some spirit, as the announcers energized us with some pre-race announcements. Even though I didn't understand most of what he said (in Spanish), it was exciting to be a part of this crowd. I was one of the very few non-Mexicans running, from all appearances.
And we're off! I am in the center waving at Barry, behind one of several canine runners. I loved that some folks brought their four-footed friends along!
After running a half lap around the track, we headed down 10th Avenue south, turned east at Calle 4, then north onto 5th Avenue. There were police blocking traffic at every intersection, and it was a blast having the roads to ourselves.
I'm to the far right in the photo below and already soaked in sweat.
After turning back onto 10th Avenue, we ran back towards the track. I'm fourth in the photo below and getting pretty spent by this point, mostly due to the high humidity. Whew!
Once back on the track, we ran another half lap to complete the 5K ("cinco kah" in Spanish) course. The 10K runners had to do the entire course twice. No thanks!
The course was on the short side, coming in at only 2.71 miles instead of 3.1, according to my Garmin wristwatch. I had thought that this might be the case based on my previous runs in the area. But on this hot and humid morning, I wasn't going to complain.
I was happy with my time of 25:20.7, or 9:21 minutes per mile. If we had run a full 3.1 miles, that puts me at 29 minutes, which would have been my fastest 5K time ever. At age 54, I'm not complainin'!
There were numerous announcements after I'd finished running, and some children were introduced. I would have loved to have understood what all they were saying -- perhaps some day my Spanish will be good enough, but I'm not there yet. Still, it was fun to be a part of.
Here, the announcer was introducing this cute little boy.
Here I am feeling proud and happy after the event. It was the culmination of a lot of difficult training and much, much sweating over the past few months. I liked the medal and pin all the runners received as well!
Huge props go out to the organizers, sponsors, volunteers, and municipal police for all they did to make this event a huge success. I hope the funds raised will go a long way in the community to help children and families affected by autism, and I am grateful to have been a part of such a special occasion in Playa del Carmen!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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