Souvenirs, Souvenirs

In case you didn’t know: Playa del Carmen is a metropolis. And like any other metropolis, we, too, have a 5th Avenue that is our main shopping area, only that we call it Quinta Avenida. Which is a good thing for not everybody fancies getting spat on by people trying to pronounce “fifth”.

Lately, this area has changed a lot. We got a somewhat fancy new mall with stores like “ALDO”, “Forever 21”, “The Body Shop” and whatnot. All of a sudden, we also got MAC, BOSS, ZARA, and Armani Exchange, so we do not have to drive to Cancun all the time we want to shop something other than beach wear or souvenirs.

Look at that! Those are refrigerator magnets mostly. Almost a work of art.

Look at that! Those are refrigerator magnets mostly. Almost a work of art.

Already, I heard people complain about Playa losing its charms. Well, I am not so convinced it was the least bit charming before with nothing around but touristy knickknacks and beer bars for miles. Luckily, though, for those people who consider this kind of shopping experience desirable, they will still find what they are looking for.

Last week my in-laws were visiting and during our many strolls I came up with a list of what I’d consider the most worthwhile souvenirs (apart from a large variety of STDs and party drugs that you can both get on every corner if you are interested… just sayin’…):

1. T-Shirts with silly messages. Always a big trend. See, what I found:

I pooped today. - Really?

I pooped today. – Really?

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“May I suggest the sausage?” – How terribly polite. I also like the numbered stuff, like “Bitch 1 – 4”. It’s a good thing to let people know what they are dealing with.

P1050705 2. Bracelets with your name. Always comes in handy when you had too much tequila.

3. Temporary tattoos. So venturesome.

4. Hair braids. Honestly, who doesn’t look good with those? Around the corner, there is a family business of hair braiders. In the evenings, I can see how they are checking each other for head lice. Sounds promising, right?

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Hair braids, tattoos, bracelets – what more could you wish for?

5. And my absolute favourite: Wrestling masks. I actually see people buying those and I cannot help but wonder: Do they use those in the bedroom? Or when driving too fast so nobody can prove it was them? Or is Playa just THE holiday destination for wrestlers?

In this case, these are also suitable for children, but they were the only ones I found that were displayed on dummies. I was actually tempted to get a spiderman mask for my godson... yes, yes, I admit it!

In this case, these are also suitable for children, but they were the only ones I found that were displayed on dummies. I was actually tempted to get a spiderman mask for my godson… yes, yes, I admit it!

Have you ever bought some silly souvenirs? Do you like getting souvenirs? 

Botox anybody?

Recently, I went to see an ophthalmologist. He’s a nice guy, and we were talking and laughing – and then it happened: He took a step back, squinted, and suggested botox injections around my eyes. Say what? I was flabbergasted. Not because I had been unaware of those dozens of laughter lines around my eyes, but because I kind of like them and never thought that anybody would actually find them ugly. I replied that I didn’t mind the lines, and now it was his turn to look confused. Then he shrug his shoulders and said, well, yes, Europeans always went for a more natural look.

However, this conversation got stuck in my head. As you can imagine, I spent a good amount of time in front of every mirror I came across, squinting, smiling at myself, looking at myself from every possible angle and in various lights and came to the conclusion that I still like those lines and would never consider botox. Don’t get me wrong, I am all pro plastic surgery. If I was married to a plastic surgeon, I would by now look like Angelina Jolie. At least if I managed to move to a different continent and not see my family for a while because having a new face must be worse than wearing a new sweater. I already hate it if somebody asks me, “Oh, is that new?” And I always go like, “Oh no, I’ve had that forever. Really, just an ugly old thing lying in the back of my drawer.” Silly, huh? Are you the same? So just imagine me being asked, “Oh, is that a new face you are wearing?” I would probably photoshop a few old pictures to back me up when I say, “Oh no, I’ve always looked like Angelina Jolie, you just never noticed.”

So, yes, I would change probably everything about me if a plastic surgeon fairy turned up and all it needed was a tip of her wand. But that’s just because I would want to be prettier, not younger. If there is one thing that I never really understand it’s why people are so obsessed with youth. Doesn’t it say a lot about our society that it appears more desirable to be young than to be experienced? People would rather be 20 and stupid than 60 and experienced.

I know, they say it has something to do with fertility. Men would rather jump women who look like they could be the mother of their child. But which woman in her right mind would like to get jumped and impregnated by strange men? So what is our obsession with youth? We all fall prey to it at least every now and then otherwise we wouldn’t spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year on anti-aging products. You can hear delighted giggles and see blushing cheeks when a woman gets a compliment on how young she looks. And yes, I admit when I look at pictures on FB of friends or classmates I haven’t seen in a long time, I kind of feel relieved when I can see that they, too, have gotten older. Of course, we all want to look our best as long as we can, but do we really want to get mistaken for a younger version of ourselves? Shouldn’t we rather be proud of the fact that we have survived until now?

I remember when I turned 30, I was so relieved that finally I had crossed this “age line” for saying that I was 29 always felt like saying, “I am still a baby”. However, I know a few women who almost had nervous breakdowns when turning 30. Back then I thought that maybe I would feel that way when I’d turn 40, for in my mind 40 was quite a big step for a woman. Now that 40 is  just around the corner, I couldn’t care less again – but maybe my 50th birthday will bring me to my knees? Maybe then it will be time to go for some botox?

Just in case, though, I came up with a few strategies to feel younger longer:

  1. Surround yourself with people older than yourself. My grandma who will turn 100 this year refers to her 90-year old neighbour as “young woman”. No further explanation needed, right?
  2. If you fail at No. 1, get the people around you drunk. It’s a fact that we find others (and ourselves) more attractive when we are a little tipsy. What other excuse do we need?
  3. Move to a sunny place where you can wear big sunglasses all the time. No wonder old people are all moving to Florida.
  4. Become a rockstar. Rockstars are never ashamed of their wrinkles.
  5. If you fail at No. 4, wear a shirt that says, “I slept with Mick Jagger.” Then nobody will mind your wrinkles, you’ll be cool anyway.

Happy Aging!