Once we leave Tulum behind us, we proceed towards Paradise Beach.
The cab drivers are waiting outside offering their service for just few pesos. Our destination is not too far that we decide to walk instead.
We can count very few people on the beach, an endless soft and white blanket, while the palms are bent by the force of the wind. But we are fearless and decided to have a beer that tastes like sand and some nachos and guacamole at the only bar we can find on the beach.
It’s time to hit the road again and we return to the car, thankfully avoiding the nick-nacks market because it’s already closed at this time. We board our “Ferrari” again and drive towards Playa del Carmen, where Severino and Irene are waiting for us. I’ve been talking two days about them and only now Gianluca realizes that he might know them. A brief description and I understand we are speaking about the same people. Few months earlier, a common friend had introduced them when Gianluca was looking for a place to stay. It is a very small world after all.
I’ve heard so much about Playa del Carmen that I cannot wait to see it. All the people I know that have been there, came back in love in with city; some of them came back home, packed everything and moved; some are still at home but hoping to be able to visit again soon. I have the feeling that my American dream has just marked Mexico on the map. As soon as we reach the main roads I understand why so many prefer Playa to Cancun. Everything is much centralized and the streets are bright and full of shops of any kind. This is so important to me since I am used to have everything handy in New York, that Playa just scored a point.
I call my friend on his cell.
“Who in the world do you think is calling? Open up, we are at your door!”
Severino looks really good: he’s tanned, relaxed and happy. We go inside and greet Irene, whom I’ve not seen in few years. She seems even younger than I remember! Could it be that Mexico is as good for the soul as it is for the body? We talk a little about the old days, about the present and about what the future is going to be or could be. We accept the invitation to spend the night at their home and could not refuse a dinner cooked by Severino, a marvelous chef.
After dinner they take us for a walk on Quinta Avenida, the city’s most famous street.
“Mari, you should see what is going to happen in this place in few hours”, my friends tell me. “Do you remember Sant’Antioco’s festival during its glory days?”
I almost choke as I laugh so hard. The festival they are talking about is held in our town at the beginning of August. When we were kids, it was such a big deal and, at nighttime, the street and the main square were so crowded you could barely walk. In the past few year it has become less and less important and this is why the reference to “its glory days”. Quinta Avenida bursts with any kind of business activities: from restaurants, bars, pizzerias and clubs on one side, to souvenirs stores and major designer boutiques on the other.
Yes, I think I could live here. But there’s one more test that Playa needs to pass: the beaches. I am very picky when it comes to that as I’m used to the blue and clear waters of Sardinia. I will not be able to say anything until tomorrow though when I will finally be able to see with my own eyes this beauty that everyone keeps talking about.