At home in Playa del Carmen

A couple of months ago, this photo appeared in my Facebook news feed and I felt a pang of homesickness.

Quinta Margarita staff

It was posted on the facebook page of Quinta Margarita, the place we called home for fifteen months of our lives.

When we decided to go back to Playa, we did look around for another place to stay in the interest of trying somewhere new. But we couldn’t find anything that lived up to Quinta Margarita and we simply had to come back home.

When I emailed our landlord, Offner, about returning, his reply was, “We look forward to welcoming you home.”

Quinta margarita rooftop

Now that we are back, I am reminded of why we can’t seem to go anywhere else in Playa del Carmen.

Quinta margarita Jardin

Firstly, we have the best landlord in Mexico (and believe me, I’ve heard horror stories). Offner is very laid back, yet he runs Quinta Margarita like a well-oiled machine. The staff are extremely friendly, from the hard working ladies in the lavenderia to the bubbly girls on the front desk to Wiburt, the amazing caretaker.

Some things have certainly changed since we have been away. Firstly, Wilbert’s English has improved a lot, so we are having fun practicing our reverse language skills with each other.

Secondly, the place has received a face lift, with new gardens, furniture, artwork and a renovated roof terrace complete with a sparkling pool (a definite upgrade from the plastic pool we used to splash around in on our first stay in 2012).

Playa del carmen roof top

The common areas have been transformed into stylish spaces for working or relaxing (and I like to do a combination of both).

Quinta Margarita terrace

Our simple studio has everything we need, including a simple kitchenette which I am happy to say we have barely used since we arrived.

Quinta Margarita Kitchen

We have absolutely loved getting back to our favourite local restaurants and have been eating like kings while spending very little. A large meal for two rarely exceeds US$10 including drinks and tip and it is SUCH a relief to not be worried about blowing the budget anymore.

ceviche playa del carmen

Tacos Playa del Carmen

Playa itself has certainly grown in the year we have been away and is showing no signs of slowing down. It’s glitzier than it’s ever been in the tourist areas, but it still holds so much beauty.

Playa del Carmen plaza

We have been walking our legs off since we arrived, exploring the different neighbourhoods to see what has changed and what is the same.

We live in the northern end of town, which has easy access to the beach, the pedestrian walkway of Fifth Avenue and the local Colosio neighbourhood with a plethora of restaurants, market stalls, concrete block houses and stores.

Colosio house Playa del Carmen

Just down from the yoga studio where I have been attending Kundalini classes is our favourite fruteria and juice store. For $1.50 you can buy a huge fresh fruit salad and just next door, green juice and coconut water.

Fruteria Playa del Carmen

On our second morning we took a long walk on the beach, heading north past all the hotels and beach clubs. We found ourselves on the most pristine beach we’ve seen on the Playa del Carmen coast and there was barely a tourist in sight.

Playa del carmen Esmerelda

Children played in a lagoon adjacent to the ocean, which I assumed was fed by seawater. Upon closer inspection, I saw that water was flowing out of the ground and didn’t smell or look like salt water. I sat on the edge and plunged my feet in to the natural jacuzzi which was refreshingly cool.

A man came over to rinse off from the sea and I asked him if it was a cenote (a fresh water hole fed by an underground river system).

He confirmed that it was and with a chuckle expressed that it was one of the few left in the area that was still free to the public.

Esmerelda Playa

The local families were certainly making the most of it and I was so thrilled to discover a new place in Playa with so much natural charm.

Playa del Carmen lagoon

Esmerelda cenote

It’s also been good to re-visit our old haunts. Though when we went to our favourite cafe, Ah Cacao, we didn’t recognize any of the new staff.

So when our usual order came out (dos cafe lattes medianos, por favor), complete with a personalized message from our favourite barista, Rene, I could have cried.

Welcomes

‘Welcomes!’

To say we are happy to be back is an understatement. Reconnecting with my friends here has been so good for my soul. It’s felt natural and easy to slip back into life here and yet, I still find it so exciting.

The last year of traveling and exploring new places has given us a renewed perspective. What were once simple pleasures like early morning beach walks and watching the sunrise over the Caribbean now feel like luxuries.

Playa del Carmen sunrise

We are grateful for the life we have here. I can only sum up how we feel with something Tyrhone said the other day on one of our many walks:

“Playa may not be perfect, but right now, it’s perfect for us.”

Sarah Somewhere Playa

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Comments

At home in Playa del Carmen — 20 Comments

  1. I love this, Sarah! It’s always such a pleasure to see Playa through your eyes. I completely understand about a place not being objectively perfect, but it still being exactly the right fit for where you are in your life. It’s so nice that you guys have found somewhere that you can always so effortlessly return to, even after so much time away, somewhere that truly feels like home. Sometimes that time away is so critical, it helps us refresh and reframe and appreciate all the little things that we have come to take for granted.

    So glad you guys are just as in love with Playa as ever. Can’t wait for you to introduce us to her charms!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..This Mexican Life: Reflections on our First Month in MexicoMy Profile

    • Yes, yes and yes. I find myself second guessing if you will like it. But I have to trust that you will find your own sweet spot when the time is right. I do feel that you will love Oaxaca city too. But I am very excited to show you around and am trying to decide which restaurant to take you to first

  2. So glad to hear that the transition back to Playa was smooth, exciting, and so welcoming! I can sense that this is home for you, through and through. LOVELY photos! Whenever I’m back in Playa (someday!), I will definitely be checking out that northern pristine beach. Now that’s my kind of Mexican beach!
    Sam recently posted..New BeginningsMy Profile

  3. Simply beautiful, Sarah. Welcome home – you look so so happy, and the food and place itself looks simply stunning. I hope the coming months hold every bit of magic that you wish for :)

  4. Beautiful! We were all set to spend a month in Playa when we left Oaxaca and then were offered a last minute housesit on the Northern coast of the Yucatan (near Merida) that we couldn’t pass up. Your photos are making me a bit wistful for what could have been! Quinta Margarita looks perfect and we will definitely check it out if we ever make it there!
    Jenny @ Till the Money Runs Out recently posted..Baby Sea Turtle Release Puerto Escondido MexicoMy Profile

    • Oh cool! Are you in Progresso? So many wonderful things to see around there. We really enjoyed Uxmal and of course Merida is a great town. I am sure you will be visiting a few cenotes to stay cool! Enjoy :-)

  5. That cenote seriously has me drooling right now- in Saudi where I currently am the temperatures are very quickly nudging 40C and that photo looks so refreshing! The more you post about your time in Mexico the more it has me wanting to spend a couple months there- it looks really lovely! Glad you’re settling back in!
    Kristine recently posted..The Right Place at the Right TimeMy Profile

  6. OK, I checked out Quinta Margarita’s website and it looks soooo cute and perfect. So I hope this isn’t too stalkerish but I’m moving into the apartment next to yours, that ok? 😉

    Also, how cool is that cenote! (Literally! haha)
    Karyn Jane recently posted..Coming Out Of The Broom ClosetMy Profile

    • Hehe, of course not!! But catch me if you can… We have just moved 10 miles south to house sit our friends place. The paradox is that since we let go of our house, posessions, etc, we have received so much more and have lived in so many beautiful places. Hope you guys are well xxx