There are many things to love about living at the Riviera Maya. However, one of the things that I dislike about living in Playa del Carmen, are the thousands of tourists. Of course, I am aware that when going on a holiday, I am also a tourist! But let’s face it: There are tourists, and then there are …tourists. Playa is full of both.
I have always asked myself, what is it that you can see straight away: Tourist! What gives it away?
OK, sometimes it is easy. Wristbands of all-inclusive hotels help. Or when a woman is wearing a rhinestone shirt that says “Playa del Carmen” you can be sure that she is a tourist. Same goes for men wearing shirts that say: “Sex Machine” or “You look like I need another drink”. This species you mostly meet in the beer aisle of the local supermarket or after 11am at the beer bar. Very often, they do a joint couple vacation with their BFFs. The women are sharing their sunscreen, comparing boob size and tan, while the guys do a beer contest and compare boob sizes. There is a chance that after their holiday, they might not be BFFs anymore – no risk, no fun.
Then there are the British tourists. On day one, easy to spot thanks to their white skin, later on equally easy to spot thanks to their funny red skin. On day 3 of their vacation, you will find them anywhere where there is shade (or beer, or both) and they reach their activity climax after sunset.
And then there are many, many tourists wearing big funny hats, dresses that are too tight, shorts that are too short – everything they would NEVER wear at home (or so I pray). They are busy posting pictures of themselves on Facebook, posing with a Mayan warrior or in front of the ruins, and their loved ones at home will leave comments saying: “Oh, you look like you are having SUCH a great time! Sooo JEALOUS!”
But what about the other tourists who don’t wear funny shirts or hats and who don’t have a major sunburn? Why can you still recognize them as tourists?
It must be the way they are walking. Strolling along looking left and right, commenting on every little detail like “Oh, look, they even have sliding doors in Mexico!” They mostly travel in packs, daddy is maundering about, humming a happy tune, while mummy is taking care of the whining children, rummaging in her bag to find a hanky, sunscreen, moist wipes or biscuits. In the supermarket, they are those who stop in the middle of the aisle screaming happily: “They’ve got Hershey’s!” (or alternatively: peanut butter / KRAFT cheese / or in my case: Quaker’s Oats or German black bread!) All the while daddy is scanning the beer racks, of course.
And always a good hint is the behaviour at an ATM. You see minimum 2 people staring at the screen, hectically pushing buttons – they always remind me of the yip yip aliens at Sesame Street. Clearly, a Harvard degree does not help with those everyday challenges.
I sometimes wonder what the locals must think of the rest of the world. Probably that our luck depends on Hershey’s chocolate, beer and iphones (well, they’ve got a point there, right?), that the British are somehow descendants of lobsters, and that we watch ATM instead of TV. No wonder, they are always laughing!