Hello my name is Charlotte, and I am the new intern on the community project in Playa del Carmen. My first impressions of the project have been amazing, and also have changed a little through my first week here. I first arrived in Playa del Carmen on Friday 29th June around 11pm. In order to get to my hotel, I had to walk through the 5thAvenue. It is a very long pedestrian street, along the beach, full of shops, restaurants, bars and clubs. It was full of people, walking through or sitting down at a table having a drink; and when you listened closely, you could hear dozens of different languages being spoken. Needless to say, I felt like I had just gotten on a holiday , but not in Mexico. I soon realised that this part of the city is what is referred to as the tourist part of Playa del Carmen. No matter the time of day, or night, it is a place that is always lively and has a great atmosphere, only not necessarily what I came here for.
But then you take a 15 minutes bus ride west in the city, in order to go to the Ludoteca, and you feel like you have arrived in a completely different place. The only language that you will hear is Spanish and the only white people you will see are the lost tourists. But I have to say, it is my favourite part of the city. I suppose it is where I am able to see the true colours of Mexico. The contrast between 5thAvenue and the west of Playa del Carmen is undeniable. You will not be able to find a Starbucks or a Burger King, but you will see houses whose constructions are not completed, yet people are living in it, Christian books, phones and internet being sold in the same shop, the pharmacy’s mascot dancing in the street and children playing in parks. But the best part for me is the privilege to be able to witness a generosity like no other. The people of Playa del Carmen will not hesitate to all give a coin to the beggar playing the harmonica in the bus even if they barely have enough money for themselves, just like the children will share their lunch in a heartbeat if one of their friends doesn’t have any food.
I am here for six months, and if this week is anything to go by, I know Playa del Carmen will be a home for me.