Penetrating sargassum smell keeps customers away from restaurants in Playa del Carmen

The accumulation of the algae creates several layers of colors, the dark brown produces the stench. Photo: (La Jornada Maya)

Playa de Carmen, Quintana Roo., (June 21, 2021).- A couple of blocks away from the beach you can feel the smell that has become another “traffic light” to determine the amount of sargassum on the coast. “It is a very penetrating smell,” admits Cecil, originally from France, who along with her husband and their two children came to vacation in the Mexican Caribbean to forget a bit about the pandemic. She points out that when she made the reservation she knew about sargassum recale, but seeing it … and smelling it is different. 

“It’s a shame, we love the Caribbean for its crystal clear waters, but apparently we did not choose the best time to come,” she says a little disappointed. The family looked for several restaurant options for breakfast without the smell of decomposing algae being so uncomfortable, but they chose to move away from the beach area. 

Photo: (Rosario Ruiz)

The situation is common in the first square of Playa del Carmen, especially in the area known as ‘El Recodo’, where the first hotels, restaurants and beach clubs of the destination settled, three decades ago, when sargassum was practically unknown and sand it was fine as talcum powder.

Although the view is very different from the turquoise blue postcards that promote the Mexican Caribbean, tourism service providers cannot stop working: “Imagine, first we closed due to Covid-19 and now this, but no way are we going to close again, even though the beach is ugly, we have families that depend on us, ”says César, a waiter at one of the restaurants located in the federal maritime zone.

Photo: (Rosario Ruiz)

A few meters ahead are some masseurs offering their services, just a few meters from the algae. They stated that their employers ask them to settle in the area, “although people, of course, complain about the smell” and there are hardly any customers.

As the sargassum accumulates on the beach, it creates several layers of colors that go from green-yellow that indicates that it is fresh to a brown almost black when it is in the decomposition stage and it is the gases that emanate from this process that make it impossible to walk on the beach. 

Photo: (Rosario Ruiz)

In the tour made this Sunday morning, personnel and machinery could be seen cleaning the coast at this point; questioned in this regard, those who are dedicated to cleaning assure that they have not stopped lifting the algae, but there is so much that arrives that “they simply cannot cope with it.”

Photo: (Rosario Ruiz)

Source: La Jornada Maya