Time For Other Things in Playa

In addition to planning the remodel, we did have plenty of time left to entertain some guests. We were also able to see a local soccer game, have meetups with other expats, buy a new TV, and renew our visas. You can see why we don’t get to spend much time enjoying the pool and other leisure activities. And then there was the food, we still had to eat.

Maybe after the remodel, the next time we come back to Playa in the fall, we can pretend we are on vacation.


Our first round of guests arrived without a hitch and they were thrilled with our location and the calm nature of the surroundings. They had never been on a beach vacation before so it was easy to impress, starting with a massage. They spent lots of time on the patio reading and enjoying the breeze or at the beach club having a cocktail and watching the ocean.

Our next guests were our son and his best friends from college. His friends got married last summer and our son wanted to give them a trip here for a wedding gift but they weren’t comfortable with Mexico at that time. But with our son, things worked out well. Since they weren’t our friends, they mostly hung out by themselves or upstairs working and enjoying the view. No sightseeing is required.

Cozumel for Snorkeling

The only activity that our friends wanted to do was to go snorkeling in Cozumel. Since Mike and I hadn’t been over to Cozumel for about 10 years, it sounded good to us. We took the 9 am ferry and arrived in Cozumel with plenty of time for our 10:30 snorkel trip. We spent a lot more time waiting for our ride and then rode another 20 minutes to the small boat harbor. I have to say, while I remember the diving being spectacular, the snorkeling was just so-so.

They did take us to a place where we could stand on a sandbar and have sting rays swim around us. That was pretty cool and at that point, the tequila was flowing freely. They also served chips and guacamole but you had to hold the plate over the water to eat. After the reverse process, we arrived back in Playa at about 5 pm. It was a long day.

Local Soccer

We have always enjoyed visiting local sporting events when we are traveling around the world. It turns out that Playa del Carmen has their own soccer club, Inter Playa del Carmen and the stadium is within walking distance from our house. During their season, which we think is in the winter, they have games on Saturday nights with free admission. So we just walked into the stadium and found some seats close to the midfield line. We were a little worried about the sun but they started the game at 7 pm and they only use the bleachers on one side of the stadium. So we were comfortably in the shade the entire time.

I have to say soccer games really are the most fun because the fans are so loud and outrageous. This game was no exception. Down the way from us, there were guys dressed up with painted faces, banging on drums and singing the entire game. Always good for a laugh. The other thing I thought was interesting was the homemade concessions. Particularly, a cup full of fresh fruit and gummy worms that looked a little like one of the kid’s favorites from years ago, Dirt and Worms. Most peculiar and no we didn’t try it. A good time was had by all, we chucked the whole way home.

Expat Bars and Meetups

One of the things we like about the Facebook groups we belong to is that meetups with other members are encouraged. In March, there were quite a few visitors in town, so we went to a number of dinner and drink meetups with other expats. We wandered the local market with people who showed us the best places to eat in the market. Another day we met to listen to music at a local bar. The last meetup for the March crowd was at 2 for 1 Tuesday at the Dirty Martini, a local expat hangout. Because of its lack of seating, it turns into a street party with lots of drinks and everyone is oh, so, friendly.

Buying a New TV

One day our really nice giant, 70-inch, Samsung TV decided to get itself stuck in a reboot cycle. Eventually, Mike was able to get it to work again but the same thing happened the following day. Our rental agent was kind enough to take it to the Samsung repair place and they said it worked fine for them. Mike thought maybe one of his devices caused a problem so we moved the Giant TV upstairs but it still didn’t work reliably.

Since our house is a rental, we had to have a reliable working TV before we headed out to Argentina. So again we called on our rental agent, who has a truck, to help Mike buy a new TV. After some research, we decided what we wanted and off they went to Sam’s Club. Even though the store showed stock online, they didn’t have the TV that we wanted. The next stop was Walmart. They did have the TV and having a native Spanish speaker was really helpful. Our friend even made them take the TV out of the box and plug it in to make sure that it worked without any glitches. After getting a surprising additional discount at checkout, Mike arrived home with a new TV for under $800. It only took an afternoon of work but that is pretty good for Mexico.

Renewing Our Residency Cards

One other piece of business we had to take care of in April before we left for Argentina was renewing our temporary residence visas. They were actually scheduled to expire while we were in Argentina but we needed them to both leave and return to Mexico. So, like last year, we paid the same agency to take care of everything and all we had to do was show up for our appointment. This time we both got to go into the office twice but Mike tagged along with me. I think we finished in about 2.5 hours again but our new visa is good for three years. The next time, in three years, we will get our permanent residence visas.


Some of our guests were in search of tacos for nearly every meal. As a result, they gave us the names of a number of places to try. Mike also collects recommendations from the expat and food groups here in Playa so we have quite a few tacos to try. One place we got to was El Pirata for some good seafood. Another day, Mike learned of a good dark kitchen doing empanadas. I got a selection of 12 pieces delivered for $20. Good training for our upcoming Argentina trip.

Tuna Snoring

Mike subscribes to a couple of Facebook foodie groups in Playa and occasionally learns of an upcoming, irresistible event. Such was the case with a conqueror, or tuna snoring, dinner. Tuna don’t snore, you say. Well, the snoring sound is likened to what is heard when a master tuna carver cuts down the spine of a bluefin tuna. So, in this dinner, an entire bluefin tuna, worth many thousands of dollars, was carved, prepped, and plated before our eyes over the course of four hours.

Aside from being wickedly fresh, the dishes were very tasty, well-conceived, and presented. Sure, it was a splurge, but I can say we’ve never had another experience quite like it. One extra unusual morsel was bone marrow. A rare and expensive treat, it tasted like salty jelly to Mike, who was unimpressed.


Another night, Mike learned of a special Oaxaca-themed night with a celebrity chef at a restaurant nearby, Axiote. This was the same place that had hosted Rick Bayless five years ago, so it promised to be interesting. To secure a reservation, Mike had to pay for a multi-course meal. It turned out he didn’t really need to do it, but it was fun sampling the chef’s many creations.

Mystery Spot, Bologna style

Our last food find will remain mysterious. If you are visiting Playa, Mike can hook you up. Why the mystery? Well, the chef is running what he calls a food lab. So his creations, while wonderful and sublime, are small in number. Chef F, as I will call him, only has a few tables, serves only weekday lunches and his beverage selections consist of a variety of water from various places around the world. He will suggest a water paring for your order.

Why bother to endure such hardships? Because his food is awesome and he and his wife are totally charming. I was first introduced to him at the tuna snoring dinner by a mutual friend. Chef F is so sweet and his food is so precisely crafted, that one can’t help but show for lunch and drink water just to experience the food. For now, such is the price we pay, in addition to actual pesos (cash only).

How would you answer the call of snoring tuna?

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1 comment

  1. That was a whopping big tuna and a huge menu to go with it! You two have certainly had some phenomenal experiences, only to be appreciated by foodies! How would you rank that experience with Manressa or the French Laundry?

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