A couple of months ago, this photo appeared in my Facebook news feed and I felt a pang of homesickness.
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.”
Now that we are back, I am reminded of why we can’t seem to go anywhere else in Playa del Carmen.
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).
The common areas have been transformed into stylish spaces for working or relaxing (and I like to do a combination of both).
Our simple studio has everything we need, including a simple kitchenette which I am happy to say we have barely used since we arrived.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Join my next ‘Journey to Shine’ e-retreat starting May 4!