Learning as you go has become our way of life in Playa del Carmen. Some things we’ve learned by observation, others by trial and error. We thought we’d share with you a quick list of 18 random observations about life in Playa del Carmen you might find useful (or at least interesting) whether you’re planning to live here or just coming down to visit for a few days. They’re not in order of importance or anything, in fact, they are in no particular order at all.
- If it doesn’t rust, it molds – The high humidity here combined with the salt air guarantee that one of these things happens to everything eventually.
- Peanut M&Ms don’t always have peanuts – Most of them do but expect about 25% of them to just be big M&M’s.
- Milk comes in an unrefrigerated box – It’s expiration date might be months in the future and of course it must be refrigerated after opening – just not before.
- No one ever has enough change – Taxi drivers, grocery store checkers and scuba diving shops all expect exact change. Not even Wal-Mart can reliably make change for big bills so it can be a competitive sport to try and get the little bills.
- Street signs, what street signs? – Once you get a couple of blocks off 5th Avenue or away from the highway, signs become very scarce and using landmarks for directions is a necessity. How do we give directions to our house? Go one block past the Grupo Musical Rebelde (Rebel Music Group) tour bus and turn across from the yellow school.
- Your neighbor probably has a rooster – Outside of the tourist zone, chickens, roosters, ducks and turkeys are very common animals to see running around someone’s yard. And sometimes in the street.
- The police drive with their lights flashing all the time – It’s a little nerve wracking at first and we’re still not sure how you know if you’re being pulled over. We plan on keeping it that way.
- All gas stations are full service – There is only one brand of gas station in Mexico so all gas costs the same across the country. The good news? Gas is cheap and all stations are full service so tip the guy a couple pesos and get your windshield washed too.
- Traffic signals are just suggestions – The real rule of the road is that whoever is bigger has the right of way. Truck beats car, car beats bike, bike beats pedestrian. Except in the case of taxis, they are like piranhas and always have the right of way so keep your eye on them.
- Almost all transactions are done in cash – This includes paying your rent and utility bills so make sure not to wait until the last minute to hit the ATM or you’ll be in line a while.
- Some mornings you will find frogs in your 2nd story apartment – Not to mention the lizards. We haven’t had too many bugs, I think the lizards and frogs are keeping them at bay.
- It’s all about who you know – It’s easier to call someone who works for the internet provider direct than it is to call the actual internet provider to come install your service.
- Jeans are accepted swimwear – As are dresses, blouses and anything else you happen to be wearing. It’s a fantastic attitude of just going for a swim when the urge strikes! Wet jeans sure don’t look very comfortable though.
- Personal space doesn’t mean the same thing – If you aren’t comfortable hugging and kissing as a greeting, you better get over that fast. Really fast.
- Expect to visit multiple stores for one shopping list – Going to 3-4 different stores to complete your grocery shopping is the norm but you can usually get everything crossed of the list. Except for Mountain Dew. How is possible for there not to be a single Mountain Dew in this entire city?
- Children easily sleep on tables – If you see a child in a bar or restaurant late in the evening don’t except them to be cranky or whiny, expect them to be asleep on the table. It’s awesome that kids can sleep through anything, including mom and dad finishing up a very European style late dinner.
- “On time” has a different definition here – You can show up for a 2 o’clock meeting at 2:30, or 3:00 and still be considered on time. It’s the equivalent of island time.
- You will never get rid of the sand – No matter how much you clean you’ll still find sand somewhere. In your bed, in your shoes or in your hair.
These are just a few things about living in Playa del Carmen we thought you might like to know about. Did any of these things surprise you? What other questions about our day to day life do you have?