15.12.2014 - 16.12.2014
We've vacationed in Mexico - but it has always been with a fairly enclosed and isolated situation.
The first time we went to Playa Del Carmen was a cruise stop in Cozumel and a land excursion to Tulum.
I remember getting off the Ferry and being welcomed by a bar called Senor Frogs. "All you can drink all day $10 American (one 24 hr period). The year was 1997 and the fishing village was just that. Roads were dirt and we walked past a few stands with crafts for sale but little else.
I was charmed - but not sold.
In past years, we have seen the village turn to a town then turn to a city of 200,000. Day trips while staying at all inclusive resorts eventually morphed into a "12 day in-city stay" where we spent the days wandering the streets and connecting with the locals at the community centre. These were hard-working happy people. The city was struggling with growth but really working to meet the challenge. We were sold.
Spanish is their native language and all efforts to connect at their language is useful. My husband's knowledge of Portuguese helped with the spanish. I started on a Rosetta Stone program.
We first started by visiting a local real estate agent who advertised English and showed long-term rentals on their window.
Initial conversations seemed promising and we moved to email after we returned to Canada.
I am a cautious spender and had a lot of questions to ask.
This did not go over well with the agent. She suggested we go to an all-inclusive and stopped our conversation.
HMMMM. Time for a different approach.
Air BNB is a good place to start - but can be pricey. Expat papers and advertisements had offers - but what reference? Trip advisor has some good advice - but it has become a bit of a tourist push that may not be as useful as it once was. Expat forums and magazines can be helpful. Sites like Mex Connect can be hard to find. So I started to look for blogs by past travellers. I found one for Wandering Earl. 14 years ago, this guy headed to Asia for a post grad trip. He hasn't gone home.
If I was his mother....
Anyways he referenced an agent while he was in PDC and then I looked her up and found other references from other fairly seasoned travelers. That's how I started looking for her site. http://www.rentingplayadelcarmen.com/
So far so good. She welcomes questions and seemed to be quite open to pros and cons of the places she offers.
I appreciate the detail of her answers and she does get back to me quite quickly.
Deposit Payment made through Paypal makes for some traceability. The fact that we don't need to pay for actual rent until we see the apt provides me with some semblance of security.
So far so good. We arrived, the apt is real and we are not sleeping on the street!
In fact, the apt is all it was represented to me and very faithful to a mexican villa rather than the modern looking apt we passed by. The agent met us, showed us all functions and glitches and promised to be around if we need her.
Conclusion: We have not been ripped off.
Sub-Conclusion: IF we haven't been ripped off at least once today, is it possible that we are not yet on vacation? More on that musing on a future post.