¡Bienvenidos a Playa del Carmen! (PT 2/5)

Allow me to remind everyone that when traveling, it is crucial to remain hydrated. Flying in an airplane sucks the moisture out of you, so drink plenty of water before, during, and after a flight. And remember- drinks high in sugar can exacerbate the problem if you are dehydrated!

20160408_132445-editedMy first full day in Playa del Carmen quite atypical. My travel partner got dehydrated, and became ill over our first night. The majority of the day was spent getting him to rest and replenishing fluids. But thanks to Nexus Tours, I was able to fully enjoy myself during the time when I did some light exploring on my own.

I had reached out via email prior to my trip to let them know I would be traveling in their care, and I was in contact with Nexus Tours representative Angelina Jimenez the entire trip. It was thanks to her that I enjoyed myself so much on that first day when I set out on my own. She had already told me that at some point during my stay, I had to try cochinita pibil20160408_131956-edited

Cochinita pibil is slow roasted pulled pork typical of the Yucatan Peninsula, and I enjoyed it on a panucho, which is another Yucatan specialty made of a refried tortilla stuffed with refried beans and topped with pickled red onion and meat- in my case, the cochinita pibil. Oh man. It was just as good as Angelina said it would be. You see, Angelina didn’t grow up in this part of Mexico, so she knew what new flavors would be delicious for someone new to the area. Way to go Angie!

On the walk back to the hotel, I passed a delicious looking ice cream booth called Don Coco. How was I supposed to resist house-made coconut ice cream? I wasn’t. Two incredibly light, creamy and refreshing scoops later and I knew it wouldn’t be long before I returned.

My next outing was for dinner, and this time I had a mission- find a street food cart on the outskirts of town away from all the tourist spots. I’d have one taco, then as I moved back into town, I’d try other tacos I saw. I was on a solitary progressive taco dinner mission.

To be honest, I was actually trying to find a specific food cart called El Rey del Taco that I read was a local favorite and would be parked between two superstores on the outskirts of town. I must also admit that I couldn’t find it, and due to my obsession with acting like I belong in places (where I have no idea what I’m doing) I refused to ask anyone where El Rey del Taco was. I saw an old red street cart that had a couple of guys around it so I decided “sure, that must be the place!”

It wasn’t the place. But it was so delicious it should have been! My method of figuring out what to eat was simple. I’d just ask, “what should I eat?” and then… eat whatever was handed to me. So at little unnamed food cart I enjoyed a taco al pastor and a taco campechano. I had no idea what campechano was, but after doing some research it seems to be named after the locale where it gained popularity and is a mix of pork and beef. While I was eating my first taco, one of the guys working the cart asked if I wanted anything to drink. One of the things he listed was flor de jamaica, which is a sweet, purple-hued drink made from hibiscus flowers. I chose the jamaica, and with that he ran into the convenient store behind me and returned with a plastic, label-less bottle of homemade jamaica. I’m not sure what that was all about, but I didn’t care since everything was so delicious.

IMG_20160513_104443_547On my walk back I passed through a park and noticed a tiny food cart that advertised “MARQUESITAS”. This was another one of the things that Angelina had recommended to me, and although this suggestion was a bit more foreign to me than cochinita pibil, at this point I was fully trusting her judgement. Her suggestion? Get a marquesita of Nutella and queso de bola. I don’t know about you, but I generally don’t eat my Nutella with cheese. You might also be wondering about what a marquesita is and let me say, I was right there with you. It appeared to be a waffle cone pressed on the spot but rolled up like an enchilada with whatever filling you chose inside. My marquesita was a bit saltier and way more delicious than I imagined. Then again, I love Nutella and I love cheese, so how could I go wrong?

After two tacos and a marquesita I was plenty full, but I was on a mission to try tacos from at least one other place. Since I had already planned to return to Don Coco for some ice cream (hey, there’s always room for more dessert) I decided to try the taco booth right next to it, Tacos Toluqueños. They specialized in tacos de cecina, which is a salted and dried pork tenderloin fried in a pan. The guy cooking the meat for my taco proudly announced that they had the best tacos in all of Playa del Carmen. I told him that of course he would say that, he worked there! He looked incredulously at his coworker and told her, “this girl doesn’t believe me that these are the best tacos in Playa!” Well, I’ll give this to him- they were incredible. Also incredible was that after all the tacos I had eaten I realized that none of them tasted even remotely the same- which of course means I couldn’t begin to imagine determining who had the best tacos in Playa del Carmen! Just… eat them all. That’s my advice.20160408_134246-edited

Nexus Tours already gave me  one of the greatest gifts by providing me with a list of delicious food to try, but what I really needed was more time in Playa del Carmen. Since my travel partner had been sick in bed all day re-hydrating, our original transfer to take us to Cancun at 1:00 pm was just not going to cut it. It would be such a shame for him to not be able to enjoy any time in such an eclectic and wonderful city! I emailed a request to Angelina to see if there was any possibility of us rescheduling our transfer until later that afternoon, and I was beyond delighted to hear back from her quickly that of course they could move the time back.

And that is why I would like to officially petition for April 8th to be an internationally recognized day of celebration for Nexus Tours.

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