Anyone who’s familiar with Playa Del Carmen, Mexico knows about Fifth Ave (or Avenida Quinta). A couple of blocks off the beach, the long pedestrian street is crammed with restaurants, bars, shops selling cheap tourist trinkets, and tour operators trying to get the attention of the throngs of tipsy and sunburned out-of-towners. It’s a fun, crazy, often loud and boisterous place to wander in the evening after a day of playing at the beach or snorkeling in Cozumel.
We get a different sense of the street in the morning, when we try to go for a jog every day we are here. The morning shade and cool breezes make the run a little more manageable. The feel in the morning, as well, is a little more….honest.
As we travel block by block, we see a different side. Shop employees just starting to unshuttter the doors and windows, following their morning routine of hanging out t-shirts and trinkets and greeting other shop keepers. It’s a very social time in the morning where you see people who are making a living here working to muster up enthusiasm for another day of selling suspicious tourists on things that don’t necessarily interest them. Since they’re not in full “sell” mode, there are far fewer calls to us to come into their shops.
Maybe it’s the cooler temperatures in the morning, but everything seems just a little more calm and mundane. Street cleaners are sweeping, mopping or scrubbing the walkways in front of the shops. And yes, we even spot the occasional bleary eyed tourist, looking a little the worse the wear from last night’s fun, trying to find a breakfast spot with strong coffee.
We dodge past workers strolling (or hurrying, if they’re late) to catch the ferry to Cozumel, and pass early morning dog walkers. We nod to the other runners we see, with that unique upward nod that runners all seem to know.
When we’re traveling, we find we usually enjoy areas outside of the tourist areas the most. But, it’s interesting to find that even the hyped and popular places can have a different side to them, if you only look for it.
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