Funny thing about Mexico, it’ll always be there – Dylan McKay “Beverly Hills 90210″

Just before college I took a journey to Play del Carmen, Mexico. “Down the block from Cancun” I called it. I never heard of the place until then. Almost everyone I knew never heard of it. We all knew Cancun. So what the hell was I doing? A relative of mine had the foresight to start investing in property in Playacar. He saw it as the next Cancun, which shortly after my visit it started to become. He gave me the use of a condo he owned near the beach in what I think was a hotel too.

When I got off the plane I was the only one who hailed a cab that was not going to Cancun. In fact, and this is the honest-to-god truth – during my 4-day stay there I didn’t see another American, or any other Irish prick, for that matter. There were a lot of Eastern Europeans. This was their “Cancun.” Away from all those Americans.

The place I stayed at was great though. They treated me like royalty there, especially at the restaurant.. Maybe it was because of my relative, or just that I was special, or rich because I was the only one there from the U.S. The hostess, in particular, spent a lot of time with me. She admitted later that her bosses told her to do so, but said she enjoyed it anyway.

Play Del Carmen

They loved me. They all loved me. Especially her.

I hung out at the beach a lot and there were a fair amount of vendors walking up to people trying to sell shit. Some were beggars. Like this kid.

Little shit

Little shit

It’s funny, I take a pic of the kid (I gave him some peso), but I didn’t take a pic of the beautiful gal selling bracelets, which she proudly displayed on her toned calves.

During my last night there I went to one of the clubs and was waited on by a Salma Hayek-looking drink server.  She shoved a shot down my throat and then told me that the girl a few tables down wanted to meet me. She was a local girl and didn’t speak English (Salma did). She was tall, had long black curly hair and wore all white. She was cute. Not that I lacked confidence, I asked Salma why she was interested.

“You remind her of Tom Cruise.”

Really what it came down was her having a crush on Cruise and I was the closest she’d get to having him, at least for the time being.

Although I didn’t speak Spanish, and she didn’t speak English, we gave it a go. Salma would translate for us while we were at the bar. Afterwards we were on our own. A lot of speaking wasn’t necessary anyway.

On our way back to my place we walked down the main strip which was pretty much quiet and deserted by then. Except for a little pocket of activity from a place tucked between two restaurants. Laughter, club music, and then a manic young Mexican dude running our way with a huge grin. He grabbed my arm and wanted me to follow him to where the activity was. He ignored the girl. I didn’t understand what he was saying but it seemed friendly. Then two German guys heading to the hideaway told me it was an after hours gay club really, really wanted me to go in there.

I guess I was Tom Cruise to him too.

I ended up back at my place with the girl, where I kid you not, I did for her my impression of the Risky Business “Old Time Rock and Roll” underwear dance. You have to do what you have to do. After walking her home I realized I could have done something from Cruise’s Irish film Far and Away. Feck! At least my Irish sounds better. Oh well. It was a horse shit movie anyway.

Playa del Carmen

I returned to Playa del Carmen about 13 months later. Changes were already underway. Where there was once a hut near the beach was now a burgeoning construction project on what would become an exclusive resort hotel. This time I stayed at a place near the beach that was run by a Belgium couple.

I went back without a plan and nowhere to stay (my relative’s place was unavailable – and he mysteriously died not long after). This European woman standing in front of a white building that could have been a hotel or house called out to me as I walked by with my bag. It was how they recruited people to stay there, mostly men traveling solo, because apparently what they were running was illegal.

“If anyone asks, just say you’re staying with your friends Christine and Patrick,” she told me.

I paid them cash, about $35 a night, and had my own room with a bathroom. Plus it was a short walk to the beach. Where they’re were now more Americans, including some rowdy southerners at the Blue Parrot bar, including one who either was a woman or a troll that washed up on the beach.

All in all, it was another good time. I haven’t been back since. But funny thing about Mexico…it’ll always be there.