After five years, a couple from Spain, Cristina and her boyfriend Carlos, returned to Playa del Carmen, Holbox and Cancún. Their experience has been a little different from previous occasions, but the Riviera Maya is still a dream place with charming beaches, warm people, unbeatable hotel service, fantastic food and shopping. However, it is not longer as safe as it used to be.
The couple arrived at the end of June and was staying in a hotel in the Riviera Maya. After a few days there, they took a bus to Isla Holbox on July 1, avoiding the shooting at La Vaquita bar on Fifth Avenue, Playa del Carmen, where most tourists usually go out at night for dinner, have a drink or just walk along the city’s famous boulevard “La Quinta“.
Cristina says that, as they were walking down La Quinta, a stranger approached them and offered cocaine or marijuana, asking: Do you want nose candy (perico) or weed (porros)?
The most incredible thing was that this happened only a few meters away from a heavily armed police officer who was standing there.
“The worst thing in the Mexican Caribbean is the impunity, you know, everybody can do anything without consequences. It is clear that the criminals are no longer afraid of the local authorities”, said Cristina, and she added that they perceived something more: It´s a shame, but the truth is that a “heavy” atmosphere now lingers on upon one of the most beautiful and important Mexican touristic destinations.
“You can see people with bad “facha” (bad “look”), and it makes you feel unsafe. People who prowl, are usually very young; Maybe other tourists do not notice that, but I do. It’s something you feel, a heavy, and very unpleasant atmosphere,” she said in an interview with El Universal.
“There is presence of law enforcement agents on beaches and streets, but still, you feel insecure”, she continued.
“The police officers carry more weapons more than the Spanish “Guardia Civil” and that gives you the feeling that the place is no longer safe; tourists ask what’s going on?, why they are these men carrying around that kind of weapons? And you can even see some young travelers taking themselves pictures with the police officers, as if they were one more tourist attraction. Carlos and I were very impressed with that situation”, said the young woman.
“Hoteliers’ security measures are really scary, for example: to get out of the hotel we take a taxi. They asked the taxi driver’s name, license plate number, we have to provide our names and room number and the name of the place where we are heading to, in case we do not return!”
So this gives the tourists the feeling that something is not right in this city.
This experience made Cristina think that she will not go back to Playa del Carmen on vacation, even though she recognized that “the quality of hotels is better than other Caribbean destinations, such as Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, and cheaper”, affirmed the Spanish woman, who has benn traveling along the Caribbean for a number of years, and also works for one of the most important travel agencies worldwide.
The couple is now in Mexico City as part of their vacation. Cristina is surprised to see that the atmosphere is so much different from Playa del Carmen. “It´s funny, but now I feel safer in Mexico City than in Playa del Carmen; it’s incredible!” she frowns.
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