Thursday, January 14, 2016

Mayan Riviera Day 2: Puerto Morelos

January 2, 2016

Saturday morning we woke up early to a beautiful view of a turquoise ocean and white sand out our window. Just what we were looking for! We went down to breakfast, which was included in our stay, and sat in the ornate, Medieval looking dining room. We were served coffee, orange juice that tasted like Tang, a basket of white toast with butter and jam, and plates of cut cantaloupe, watermelon, and papaya. Then we struck out on foot to the town, just a block or two away from our hotel, to find a convenience store to buy water and gum. We explored the town square, which was very cute, and the beach including their famous tilting lighthouse and the pier. We bought beach towels from a tourist shop next to the hotel, and headed out to our hotel’s private beach for the day.

Ready to start our first day in Mexico!

Puerto Morelos beach by the square

Famous tilting lighthouse

The beach itself was quite nice. It had soft, white sand and the roped-off area has lounge chairs and canopies, as well as cabanas with tables so there is plenty of shade. However, there was also a huge mass of seaweed that collected just between the ropes and the ocean that you had to cross to get in the water (they cleaned it up almost entirely by Tuesday, for the record). The water was lovely, and there were some small spear-looking fish that pelicans are constantly swooping down to gobble up. There is a scuba diving center in the hotel on the end opposite our room, and we could watch the groups prepare for their dives in the pool and head out in the boats tied up on the beach. Only one other couple joined us on the beach that day, despite the glorious weather, and they were all the way at the other end so we felt very secluded, which was great. We spent the day lounging in the sand, testing the water, reading in the shade, and sipping piña coladas from plastic cups.

Loving the warm water!

Our little beach

Enjoying ourselves on the beach

Pelicans were constantly flying by, diving for fish

View of the piers from our beach

That afternoon we decided to walk down the beach to the light house, where we discovered a glorious beach with more people, but less seaweed. I ran out in to the water for a bit since it was SO NICE. This side of town had larger hotels and resorts, so the beaches were packed in comparison to ours. We walked up and down with our feet in the waves, and checked out more of the pier and shore. Since it was towards the end of the day and we were sticky from seawater and sunscreen, we walked back to the hotel and showered before dinner. We had planned to go eat at a touristy restaurant on the water in the square called Pelicano, but the señor at the tourist shop next to our hotel recommended a place classed Chimichurri on the other side of the square because we were looking for chicken and steak (not seafood). We had missed a spot on my leg with sunscreen, so I had a long stripe of sunburn up my right leg, and we sat in as much shade as we possibly could while sitting outside. This establishment was clearly a local choice (less touristy), and the food was very authentic tasting. I had 2 empanadas that were delicious—one with ham and cheese, and the other with chicken and vegetables in a tomato based sauce—and Todd had chicken with chimichurri sauce. The chicken itself was delicious and juicy, but the sauce was a bit more leafy than we would have preferred. While we were eating, we saw numerous stray dogs (so many in Mexico!) and small children approach your table and shout sing  to you so you will give them money.

Beach near the lighthouse

Tilting lighthouse

Walking out into the sea!

After dinner, we wandered around the square, where they had an evening farmers market type setup going on. Vendors had booths set up selling all kinds of arts and crafts, and a van was driving around with a loudspeaker and its door open, jam-packed with breads and pastries for sale. We bought a tiny refrigerator magnet painting of the beach done by an artist right there using just a knife, and watched a fire dancer twirl flaming sticks on the corner. The square has a mini replica of Mayan ruins (which looks like it could be either a fountain where no water is running, or a children’s play area), and on the other side of the square they have a beautiful Catholic church with the doors constantly left wide open and a nativity inside up by the altar.

Mini Mayan Ruins

Later in the evening, since the portions were small at dinner, we went for follow-up drinks and quesadillas at Pelicano, the original restaurant we wanted to dine at, which was very touristy and not nearly as tasty as Chimichurri. The stray dogs had made an appearance here as well, and we named a particularly cute one Merry, after the available “Blody Merry” listed on the menu (Bloody Mary with spelling errors...they are not huge on proofreading here). I ordered a sangria, which came to me in an enormous goblet with 2 different colors of liquid layered on top of one another, and a lime sporting toothpick flags for both Mexico and the US. It sort of tasted like Boone’s Farm and Lemonade, and was too sweet and not nearly strong enough for the size it was.

Enormous Sangria!

After dinner, we walked out onto the pier to get a look at the stars and the town all lit up. We also hit up the ice cream shop in the square to get handmade waffle cones, and went to the market to buy vinegar for my sunburn and premade Captain Morgan and Cola beverages as sold in the refrigerator section. That was kind of a fun find!

Captain & Coke

View of the town from the pier at night

Both of the lighthouses at night from the pier

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