A Day in Playa del Carmen

On our third morning at Sandos Caracol, our little coati friends once again greeted us on our way to breakfast. When they realized we had no food to offer them, they quickly lost interest.

1 Coati 2 Coati

That morning’s eco tour was the water tribute, and we had the pleasure of meeting our guide, Noemi, for the first time. We were immediately drawn to her bubbly personality and cute sense of humour, but quickly realized she was bright and informative as well. She had lots of knowledge to share and she made the learning fun.

The tour started at Cenote Cristalino, located just off the lobby bar. Noemi explained how cenotes are connected to a network of underground rivers through caves. A constant flow of water is imperative to the health of a cenote, so if the caves become blocked with leaves and debris, the cenote will die. Once a cenote loses its water and dies, it will never return to life.

3 Cenote Cristalino

From there, we moved on to Cenote de la Cascade, which is the beautiful cenote by the suspension bridge. This cenote used to be two separate ones, but they’re now joined. We were sad to hear Cenote de la Cascade is slowly dying. The resort is doing what it can to find a solution before it’s too late.

4 Cenote de la Cascade

Our tour took us by the whitetail deer enclosure, which also happens to be a dead cenote. In this instance, it makes the perfect, safe habitat for the deer.

5 White tail deer in dead cenote 6 White tail deer 7 White tail deer

Then we happened across a troop of spider monkeys. Much to the delight of the room’s occupants (and us down below), this engaging fellow was sitting right on a deck railing.

8 Spider monkey 9 Spider monkey

With a Tarzan leap, it landed in the nearby trees to join its friends.

10 Spider monkey

A squabble broke out when a couple of males didn’t want the mama and her baby hanging out with them, so the bullies chased her off. Look carefully for the baby monkey clinging to her back.

11 Spider monkey & baby

Sad to see her mistreated, and yet she and that teeny scrap of a baby looked rather adorable scurrying away.

12 Spider monkey & baby 13 Spider monkey & baby

Our next stop was at the newly forming Cenote Select. Right now, it’s not much more than a crack in the earth, with water gathered at the bottom.

252 Cenote Select

This is the lovely Noemi telling us all about the Cenote de la Tortuga.

254 Noemi @ Cenote de la Tortuga 255 Cenote de la Tortuga

After lunch, we took a short taxi ride into Playa del Carmen, to check out Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue). It’s a pedestrian-only cobblestoned street, lined with stores and restaurants, and runs for twenty blocks from Calla 38 (38th Street) to Avenida Juarez, where the town square, El Zocalo, is located. We walked the entire length and back in the blazing sunshine, detouring off a few times to check out the beach.

Some of the sights along the way.

261 Quinta Avenida,  Playa del Carmen 262 Quinta Avenida,  Playa del Carmen 265 Quinta Avenida,  Playa del Carmen

Cuban cigars seemed to be the big deal, and we were offered them many, many times.

263 Quinta Avenida,  Playa del Carmen

I didn’t note which street this section of beach was located on. For some reason, it wasn’t quite what I’d expected.

268 Playa del Carmen

Beautiful white church near El Zocalo.

270 Quinta Avenida,  Playa del Carmen

The haunting sound of a flute drew us to the town square. We recognized it as the music of the Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers), and sure enough, the Pole Flyers were just setting up, so we sat down to enjoy the performance.

274 Pole flyers, El Zocalo Town Square, Playa del Carmen

We’ve seen this pole flying done in various places in Mexico. Five Pole Flyers climb to the top of a thirty-meter pole, then four participants attach ropes and launch themselves off the rotating platform while the fifth remains on top, playing the flute. It’s believed the ritual was originally created to ask the gods to end severe droughts.

277 Pole flyers, El Zocalo Town Square, Playa del Carmen

Mayan mythology associates the creation of the world with a mythical bird deity. In this instance, the flute player illustrates the sound of birds singing, while the other four (depicting the four directions) represent the gods of the earth, air, fire and water and they spin around the pole to enact the recreation of the world.

278 Pole flyers, El Zocalo Town Square, Playa del Carmen

The beach at El Zocalo Square by Avenida Juarez, near the Cozumel ferry terminal.

282 El Zocalo Town Square, Playa del Carmen 285 El Zocalo Town Square, Playa del Carmen 290 Beach @ Avendia Juarez, Playa del Carmen

Our walk back down Quinta Avenida.

295 Quinta Avenida, Playa del Carmen 303 Quinta Avenida, Playa del Carmen

Going to climb on my soapbox for just a moment: While on Quinta Avenida, we saw some people with two baby jaguars and another person with a tiny Capuchin monkey (like the one on Friends). Our resort warned us not to pay for a picture because these animals are often mistreated, going for hours in the hot sun without shade or water, and then are abandoned once their usefulness is over. Instead of being playful as little kittens should be, the baby jaguars laid listlessly in their owner’s arms, obviously drugged. What a sad life. And even sadder, the mother jaguars are often killed when their cubs are taken into captivity to live this life of drugged tedium. The only way to stop this exploitation is to not support the exploiters. No matter how tempting, just don’t do it.

The beach at Calla 38

307 Beach @ Calla 38, Playa del Carmen 308 Beach @ Calla 38, Playa del Carmen

Cute towel art

312 Towel art

Water fountain near snack bar.

328 Fountain at snack bar

We had our first raccoon sightings early that evening. This fellow was by the burros’ pen.

331 Raccoon by lobby

We spotted this shy guy on the trail to our room.

332 Raccoon on path to our room‘Our’ alamo tree was gorgeous all lit up at night.

333 Alamo tree

I selected our seats early for the Ceremony by the Sacred Cenote that evening, then amused myself by watching the bats flit through the trees above my head while I waited. The ceremony was even more spectacular than anticipated, leaving Hubby and I thoroughly enthralled.

350 Xcalacoco Experience Mayan ceremony 361 Xcalacoco Experience Mayan ceremony

I briefly mentioned these Mayan ceremonies in a prior post about the Xcalacoco Experience here, and I’ll do a post on all three with more pictures at a later date. Jump to next post here. Start from my first post here.


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  1. Pingback: Let The Monkey Business Begin | joyceholmes

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