Anyone who has been to Playa del Carmen knows 5th Avenue, or ‘Quinta Avenida’ in Spanish. That is, if you ever needed to use your Spanish while you were in Playa. As we made our way down 5th for the first time, we were shocked at just how Americanized this once sleepy fishing village had become. 5th Ave is Playa’s main street, and has been carefully created for tourists. You can pay in U.S. Dollars everywhere, and the prices at restaurants and in shops lean more toward prices in the U.S. than the rest of Mexico. (Pizza, and there is a lot of Pizza in Playa, can be even more expensive – much to our pizza loving dismay).
We rented an apartment to the far northern end of town, out of this ‘tourist zone’ and we quickly discovered that there are two faces to Playa’s 5th Avenue:
While the Southern end of 5th Avenue is lined with souvenir shops, Starbucks cafes, fast food chains and fancy restaurants….
… the Northern end of the street is nothing more than an unpaved dirt road without street lights:
As soon as the tourist-friendly part of the street ends…
… you make your way through car graveyards and…
… the fancy apartment buildings…
… are replaced by houses that look more like this:
The difference in the appearance of houses inside and outside 5th avenue’s hotel zone is drastic:
Two different kinds of trash (actual piles of garbage on the left / Senor Frogs on the right).
No matter where you are on 5th Avenue, one thing is certain: Just to the west is one of the most beautiful white sand beaches in Mexico.