MEXICO: Playa Del Carmen

Posted by on Dec 14, 2016 in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

I’m looking forward to my next visit to Playa Del Carmen especially given the fact that my country will be taken over by one of the most repellent beings ever to be inaugurated. It will just feel better to be outside of the U.S.A. at that particular moment in history, and I assure you that my brief six week pit stops back in the states will be purely to visit family and friends before embarking on my next year of adventures.

Of course this had been my planned routine already over this last two year period, but it has turned into a much appreciated one as I finish out the next three years of my five year journey. Since I really have little interest in living in Trump’s America, it looks like I’ll be extending my travels for at least an additional year as I wait for his term to run out. Then I’ll return if there’s anything to come back to, and maybe vote for whatever turd sandwich happens to be running against him.

Until then, I’m going to scuba dive the hell out of Playa, go to jazz clubs, dance the night away, visit some of the world’s best museums, enjoy nature and wildlife, eat a variety of delicious and exotic foods, stroll about the world’s great cities, tour all over France, live on a houseboat in Amsterdam for a month, go back to Africa, island hop around the South Pacific, visit Antarctica, dive the Great Barrier Reef, get into paramotor flying, and hopefully write my way into getting paid to do it as well.

If anything, that loathsome, bloated hollow suit has motivated me to extend my travels well beyond my original parameters. Who knows, maybe after I hit my one hundredth country in October 2017, I’ll go for the full monty, and try and visit the other ninety-five before I snuff it. Might as well get some benefit out of our current existential crisis.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade.

Looking at my previous pithy remark, I want to tell myself to go and get stuffed.  After clamping down on a fork cross wise last night while trying to negotiate a bite out of half of a large broccoli floret, my front tooth was immediately relieved of half of its veneer. By some good fortune I managed to realize the problem before crunching it up in a mouthful of broccoli mash. I looked like some kind of back woods, bar brawling douche. I paid the bill, gingerly grasped the veneer fragment between thumb and forefinger, and lumbered home crestfallen in my disgrace.

I quickly fell asleep to a movie on Netflix, and sought refuge from my shame in peaceful slumber. Upon awakening, I immediately brushed my teeth, gathered my veneer fragment and headed off for the dentist office that had done a teeth cleaning for me the day before. Yeah, what are the odds?

Well, my mouth is whole again. Total cost = $33. Perhaps it was just a Freudian slip in order to get the new veneers I have needed for at least the last five years. Or maybe I was just lucky to get the repair done for $100 less than the States.

Always look on the bright side of life…

Maybe I shouldn’t write stuff like that. Look at what happened the last time, but that’s superstition and I just don’t subscribe to that. In fact I’m going back to that same restaurant where I damaged my tooth last night just to defy the concept, but will request a plastic fork if I order the broccoli with my skewers.

They only had steel forks so I was very careful, and left with a full set of teeth.

Then this happened…


            $180 Short Con “Playa Style”

One of the things you have to worry about when you are in Playa del Carmen is people are long on smiles and short on ethics. Mostly you find it in the form of multitudes of guys hawking fake Cuban cigars on the Quinta, but you don’t usually find it in your friendly neighborhood hostel manager.

I guess those rules just don’t hold fast south of the border. They should since Playa has experienced 30% plus growth over the last ten years so you would think you would find a degree of sophistication that exceeds some of the more sleazy Mexican border towns.

Guess not. I booked two weeks at the Lobo De Mar Hostel and found out just how a good, old fashioned, Playa del Carmen bumming feels. At least that’s what Martin the manager implied when he said that it was the “Playa Way” as he refused to return the $180 I had coming to me when I canceled my booking after five days in his prison inspired hell hole.

He tap danced around the issues and tried to schmooze me like a used car salesman. He tried to buy me off with drinks. I don’t drink, and I frankly made it clear that I wasn’t interested in playing his sleazy game. In fact, there is nothing in his written cancellation policy that warrants more than a penalty of three nights stay.

I should have seen the writing on the wall before I even checked into the place. After all, Lobo De Mar translates to Sea Wolf in English. This is also evidenced by what they charge for scuba diving. They charge $85 for a two tank dive with their ramshackle operation, and the Padi 5 star operation that I use charges $69, and it is just steps from the beach. That just shy of 20% less.

When he was unable to bamboozle me with his bullshit, he was kind enough to tell me it wasn’t a five-star hotel when I complained that his listing on Hostelworld failed to mention the limited nature of the air conditioning. They don’t turn it on until ten at night and shut it off early in the morning, but of course, once again that’s the “Playa Way”.

Another charming thing is the toilets in which you can’t flush toilet paper, but must dispose into a trash can without a lid! I’ve run into this sort of thing in Latin America because of poor plumbing, but at least my hosts supplied a can with a lid, and never tried to rip me off. Actually, the toilet paper problem is the “Playa Way” in many locations, but there are certainly less disgusting ways being used by many to manage the issue.

This unscrupulous thief even had the nerve to tell me that Hostelworld was as ethically challenged as himself, and that they would leave me as butt sore as he had rendered me. Talk about biting the hands that feed you, but I digress.

The bathroom in my eight bed cell compound had only one tiny round basin and a 4×8 in. grotty wooden shelf which was mostly unusable since there was a towel dispenser strategically placed four inches above it. Shaving was a nightmare since the mirror is on another wall. A cinderblock wall completed the feel one would get from living in a tin roof dwelling in Tijuana.

The storage lockers are quite roomy, but as with everything in this hostel, there is always a drawback. The large doors are positioned in such a manner as to inconvenience any occupants who wish to navigate the space when a door is ajar. If the locker is unsecured they just swing open creating quite the hazardous obstacle. This makes it especially convenient for colliding with in the middle of the night if you like being kneecapped or smashed in the head.

They didn’t even bother completing the tile work in the room but went with a patchwork cement and tile ensemble for effect. The beds were almost as hard as the floor due to being placed on concrete, and although I like minimalism, this place turned it into a quasi-prison experience. This would explain my reticence to take a shower during my five-day stay as well as my desire to vacate the premises prematurely.


I guess I’ve seen too many prison movies. One of the two showers offered a multi-directional piddling spray that was incapable of rinsing off much of anything except spritz off of the flies who had lost their way from the uncovered dung infused TP baskets in the toilet stalls. I finally broke down and had a much needed rinse in the functional shower, and kept a look out for any unwanted company be they insect or human.

I sit writing this in the patio bar which is probably the cause of the lion share of their positive reviews. That and the girls who work here are awfully cute. I’m sure getting drunk also helps get you through the rest of the experience at the dread Lobo De Mar. After all, it’s hard to tell you’re being taken advantage when you’re wasted. It really just sticks in your craw that on top of it all you’re paying thirty-seven dollars a night for a twelve dollar a night bed. That explained a lot. All along I thought it was a thirty-seven dollar a night hostel.

They were just gouging because there was some wack electronic music festival going on this week, and the first week of January is high season.

The manager tried to atone for the $180 theft of funds by offering me an already refused drink by sending one of his flirtatious sirens to assuage my fury, as he looked on while I crafted this blog post and soon to be edited review.

I wasn’t falling for that old trick, though. It actually pissed me off more since I was very thirsty, and she refused to take my money.  To make matters worse she laid some patronizing new age, anger nonsense upon me, and I subsequently made it very clear that I don’t accept drinks from thieves. 

In the time it took to finally be able to pay for my drink, I managed to transform my rancor into some deliciously, scathing material. I admit it. Underneath it all, I was beginning to have fun, but someone needs to tell the dude if he wants to buy a man a drink that he best get his hand out of the recipient’s pocket first. That’s the American way. At least the way it used to be.

Of course two months in Playa del Carmen was meant to help get away from it all before I start the year’s adventures, and instead, that crappy hostel got me thinking about the vile nature of the people in charge of the U.S.A. come January 20th. This minor Playa debacle pales in comparison to the horrors I have left behind, but it certainly served to dredge it all back up at a moments notice which really irritated me. Also, I’m not particularly fond of being robbed. By my government, big business, the banks, individuals in the private sector or scummy innkeepers. 

A dishonest hostel owner is nothing when you have you have a Con Man in Chief about to be sworn into office. Then we also have to contend with a bunch of white-collar criminals bought and paid for by corporate America just licking their chops and getting ready to take away our Social Security, compromise our healthcare, and sell out all of humanity to the oil companies.

I swore I would ignore the nonsense back at home, but it’s just so hard to have to watch all of the damage that will be done in the next four years. I’m at a point where it’s almost too painful to care anymore. Or maybe it just feels pointless to care at this time. Maybe, it’s best to leave caring for people better qualified than myself.

The anticipated damage to the environment and the ruinous effects of climate change will clearly be compounded by the irresponsible actions of the incoming administration.

As the world calls for weaning off of fossil fuels and greater dependence on alternate energies, our leaders will be takings us backward into greater fossil fuel dependence. If this is the best that humanity can do at the dawn of the 21st. century, it should come as little surprise if we fail to prosper or survive into the 22nd. At this point, I’m beginning to believe that the extinction of humanity would be well deserved and that the rest of the species on the planet would be well rid of us.

When in history has the world gone so completely sideways that if they put it in a movie, you’d ask for your money back because of a lack of plausibility?

Not a particularly auspicious beginning for my third year of travels. I’m off to Cuba in four days for a fresh start. Hopefully, it will rinse this nonsense out of my nonexistent hair, and when I return to Playa for six more weeks, I will have my guard up, stay out of hostels, and keep my pockets zipped.

And now back to our previously scheduled adventure…

Great New Room – It was so worth losing the $180 to secure a comfortable, air-conditioned Airbnb to get my bearings and clean up before Cuba. Although a little overpriced this is my first personal space in a whole month which could also explain why I was ready to snap my twig. I have a rule of no more than 3 weeks of hostels per month in order to maintain equilibrium. So cozy.

AMAZING HOSTS & ROOMMATES – He’s a scuba instructor.

Unique Hospitality – Seriously it beats free soap and shampoo.

Off To Havana In The Morning…


  1. Karen Devers
    December 15, 2016

    A houseboat in Amsterdam sounds delightful! I also like the idea of doing housesitting. I wonder if you could do that in some of your locations?

    The US is an amazing country full of natural beauty and fine people but the captain of our ship hasn’t a clue about the dangers he’s leading us into. There will be icebergs ahead, I’m certain.

    So, it makes sense for you to continue your exploration and enjoyment of the world outside the US. I look forward to sharing a small bit of your adventure next fall.

    My family does wish lists and we have great fun telling one another what we have purchased so there are no duplicates. Elli and Mike are coming down Thursday befor Christmas and staying for five days so we’ll have a wonderful time together. They think it’s funny that all of my wish list items are found on Rick Steve’s website. My theme for 2017 is “get ready for France!”

  2. The Travel Zealot
    December 20, 2016

    You can housesit all over the planet. There are directories just chock full of beautiful villas in Italy, cottages in France etc. It just boils down to developing a reputation and getting some prior references. Then you are off and running. Most listings involving a pet or two and watering a few plants. Of course this is all covered in the individual listing. This way you choose a location that suits you, and circumstances and tasks that suit your skills and desires.

    I presume you get on a database and when people like your services, you become a sought after house sitter. It’s a great set up. Living in beautiful homes around the world, in exchange for a little bit of work. Given that housing comprises the lions share of travel/living expenses, it’s a great way to accumulate funds especially if you have a portable income.

  3. Dinachka and Miachka
    January 4, 2017

    Bon voyage!! Don’t knock any more tooths.

  4. Dinachka and Miachka
    January 4, 2017

    **bon XD

  5. The Travel Zealot
    January 4, 2017

    Will be.

  6. The Travel Zealot
    January 4, 2017

    Yes, it was quite humbling to reveal my seriously foolish error to my dental professional daughter. After clamping down on a fork cross wise while trying to negotiate a bite out of half of a large broccoli floret, my front tooth was immediately relieved of half of its veneer. By some good fortune I managed to realize the problem before crunching it up in a mouthful of broccoli mash.

    I looked like some back woods, bar brawling douche. I went home, fell asleep to a movie on Netflix, and sought refuge from my shame in peaceful slumber. Upon awakening, I immediately brushed my teeth, gathered my veneer fragment and headed off for the dentist office that had done a teeth cleaning for me the day before. Yeah, what are the odds?

    Well, my mouth is whole again. Perhaps it was just a Freudian slip in order to get the new veneers I have needed for at least the last five years.

  7. Jason
    January 8, 2017

    Had a great time getting all caught up on your blog. lots of entertaining commentary and plenty of beautiful photos. Karen is right to point out your amazing photography. Top notch! Of course ever when photos are not possible (your run in with the stomach puncher) you still have the ability to paint the picture perfectly with your descriptive writing. I had professor Headley (aka Cyndi) cracking up last night when I decided to orate some of your narrative. Damn funny! Also loved seeing the family stuff! Everyone looked really great. Especially that Mia. What a cutie. That was a first class party. Would not expect any less..Take good care of yourself and I will be checking back in soon.

  8. The Travel Zealot
    January 9, 2017

    Really great comments, Jason. Thanks. I do enjoy writing the stuff. It’s nice to have found something I really enjoy doing, regardless of my aptitude. My granddaughter is really something else. I started writing a children’s book about her. We’ll see if I have the chops to finish it. The last month has been quite a ride. I’m off to Cuba on Jan 11th. It’s should supply ample material, photo and journalistic. I’ll focus mainly on the music and the ocean. I’ll be in Havana for seven nights. You and Cindy have to come down to Playa sometime. AirBnb only! I’ll steer you clear of the stomach punchers and other riff-raff. This year I’ll be here Jan.18-Feb 28th. and then returning Oct.9-Nov.5th.

  9. BigD
    January 17, 2017

    You weren’t kidding, that hostel looks grim even by horror film standards. It’s too bad you had to deal with that while we were down there. On a positive note, my parents in law, wife and I had a great time scuba diving with you. It was nice to get back into the groove a little, felt like riding a bike after the refresher course. We took a ton of great pictures and some videos, I sent you a few on text message. It was definitely one of the highlights of our time in Playa so thanks again for the experience, we wont soon forget it.

  10. The Travel Zealot
    January 23, 2017

    Glad you enjoyed I will use one of your pictures on the blog. I’ve been in terrible need of an underwater shot given my diving tendencies. I will be in touch with Hostelworld to secure the return of my funds from that durak.

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