05 Nov

Adios Playa del Carmen! We Won’t Be Back.

My Mexican dreams were awash with early morning runs on the beach, margaritas with new friends in the evenings, and a chance to really settle down and get to know a place.

Playa del Carmen was not the place of my Mexican dreams.

Filled with all inclusive resorts, pumping restaurants, and expensive shops it’s a place built to please holiday-makers; it is not a city in its own right but exists solely for the purpose of tourism. For me, it lacked soul.

I was conflicted about coming here; I have friends who have stayed for months on end and love, love, love it and others who have come and couldn’t wait to leave. I didn’t know how it would work out for us but, with tickets already purchased, we decided to give it a shot. You can put us in the camp that couldn’t wait to leave.

It wasn’t all bad though.

Our skimpy budget may have forced us into a cheap apartment on the outskirts of town, but we did manage to turn it around and started spending less than we’re making. Europe was tough on our budget and, although we didn’t spend more than we expected, I didn’t expect how it would feel to have chipped away at our savings. Lesson learned.

The funk that I had been battling for a while landed with full force, but it also made me really think things through and figure out what was going on. Through plenty of talking and teasing it out I discovered that it was a toxic combination of peri-menopausal hormones (Seriously!? I’m old enough for this?!), a homesickness that I didn’t recognize, a frustration with our budget, and a realization that being in Playa del Carmen was not turning out how I had expected. The funk has lifted, thank goodness, but it was a lot of work and I don’t plan on letting it take over again.

I discovered yoga. In an effort to find some peace and deal with the anxiety that would not go away I decided to try yoga. I found a donation-based class (good for the budget) held in a quiet palapa (think grass roofed, open walled building) in town. As the instructions floated over me in lilting Spanish, and I pretzeled my body into shapes I didn’t think possible, I also learned how to breath, and relax, and let the anxiety drain.

This travel thing, this serial expat thing, this figure-it-out-as-we-go thing; it’s definitely not all rainbows and puppies all the time. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s really hard. Sometimes it’s hard because of where we are. Sometimes it’s hard because of what’s going on inside. And sometimes it’s hard because of a perfect storm of where we are and what’s going on inside.

I’m sorry Playa del Carmen; it’s not all you, but I’m afraid we won’t be coming back.



6 thoughts on “Adios Playa del Carmen! We Won’t Be Back.

  1. Great story! Sometimes a place doesn’t match the expectations you’ve dreamed up so when you get there you are ultimately disappointed while others you stumble upon quite by accident that feel right. Best thing is to keep moving and eventually you find a place where you linger a little longer…for whatever reasons…that is the place! Enjoy the journey!
    eric helgoth recently posted..Grand Prismatic – Yellowstone National Park

  2. Oh yeah, I’ve been there. I’m sorry you didn’t like Playa but I’m glad you are out of there now and (bonus) you’ve discovered yoga. I keep telling myself I’ll go to a class here but I’m intimidated as I’ve only ever gone to a few classes and I’m a slow learner. Anyway, I hope your travels will take you here to Sayulita. I would love to see you guys.
    Kim recently posted..Hello from Sayulita, Mexico

  3. Man, can I relate to this! (Well, most of it anyway.) Long term travel is hard, and there are so many factors affecting me right now. Our apartment in Pisa is cute and functional and comfortable enough, but the bed is killing us and the neighborhood is way too suburban-feeling. Even though we’re only a 10 minute bus ride from the center of the city, the buses suck and we often end up walking, which takes 25-30 minutes. So we’re not getting a good feel for the city and we feel trapped. I feel like we sacrificed our comfy home and we’re not even getting to see enough of the place we’re living in. I saw this month as a time to see more of Tuscany, and it’s just not working out that way. We’re questioning a lot of things these days, and it’s tough, especially since we’re committed to being away from home for another 3+ months.

    I love that you found something that helps you release the stress – I never could get myself to enjoy yoga. I really hope your next few weeks of travel and your new base in Nicaragua work out better for you.
    Ali recently posted..How Much We Spent Traveling in Nuremberg and Bamberg

  4. I’m so happy to hear that you are doing better… I too have found the Yoga is helping. We will be the Peri group in Nicaragua!!!

  5. I’m so sorry to hear that Playa wasn’t everything you hoped it would be, but I guess that’s the risk we travelers take when we visit somewhere new (heck, even somewhere old can feel different than before and throw us for a loop!). At least you were able to get some good things out of it, and hopefully you were able to identify the things that weren’t working for you that were within your control so that you can avoid those pitfalls in the future.

    You know I feel you on how tough pursuing long-term travel dreams can be. Half the time I’m worrying about how we’ll be able to support ourselves, and the other half of the time I’m worrying about how we’ll be able to actually enjoy ourselves because we have so much work. You’re absolutely right that this way of life isn’t full-time rainbows and puppies (though we do have 200% more puppies in our lives currently…), and I tend to feel it’s a life of extremes. The lows can feel impossibly low and scary, but the good days are so very sweet I tend to think they make up for those dark patches.

    Onwards and upwards, Gillian! I hope your next stop is more your speed!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Paris: Pretty As a Picture

  6. Playa del Carmen lacks soul… That is true…. I live there for 7 months and then I quit for the same reason… Good Luck!!

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