(aka Weddings in Mexico)
Bonus: things to do in and around Playa del Carmen
CocoBongo, Playa del Carmen, February 2016
So this is quite possibly the klutziest (or likely the dumbest) thing I have ever done. But let me start at the beginning (and no, it had nothing to do with CocoBongo ;).
February 2016, I'm heading down to the Riviera Maya for two friends wedding, let's call them Mandy & Candy. They've done the research and picked one of the nicest and highest ranked hotels in the Playa del Carmen area.
We've been there for 4 days and have gotten up to all kinds of shenanigans, many of which I highly recommend (see below): we rented a Catamaran* and headed out snorkeling with the fish and danced on the boat, we hit up Coco Bongo**, we saw some monkeys, a few people hit up Xplor*** and Xcaret****. We explored the town of Playa del Carmen with all of the awesome things it has to offer!
One thing I learned while in Mexico this trip, dental work is freakin cheap!
So, the one problem with fancy expensive hotels is that while they are often made to be beautiful, they are not necessarily very functional. The layout of the hotel room is as follows: you walk into the room and turn right, and you are in the bathroom. If you walk straight, you'll hit the bedroom. However, there's no wall *between* the bathroom and the bedroom. But there is a small wall between the bathroom and the bathtub - which stops where the bathtub starts. So there's this giant tub in the middle of the room and a 3 foot wall *beside* the bathtub.
Now picture someone waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, but not wanting to wake up their roommate so leaving all the lights out, and on the way back from the bathroom feeling their way across the wall towards what they think is the bedroom. Get where I'm going with this? Since I knocked myself out and don't actually remember what happened, I can only tell you what I think must have happened. I quietly sneak to the toilet in the middle of the night, and on my way back to the bedroom I start feeling my way across this little wall which in my mind is attached to the bathtub, so once the wall ends, there must be a pathway to my bed, right? WRONG! Once the wall ends, the bathtub begins, and the title of this blog occurs: FACE SMASH TUB!!! In my silly attempt not to awaken my roommate, I fail horribly and she is quite rudely pulled from the grasps of sleep. She finds me, knocked out in the tub, blood everywhere heh.
This was my forehead that morning
And this was my tooth lol
We are now at Saturday, and the wedding is Monday. Did I mention I'm a bridesmaid??? Uh yeah. So a smashed up face, including two black eyes and a giant gash across the forehead plus a broken tooth is just not going to work here. Oh. And all of the dental offices we found online are closed on Sundays. Hair and makeup are arriving at 10 am on Monday, so running on the assumption that the dental offices open at 8 am, I hop in a taxi at 7:45 and head to the first office in the list that we'd made the day before. Using quite a few hand gestures and my horrible Spanglish I finally get across that I'm trying to have my tooth fixed before a wedding that's happening in a few hours. The receptionist calls the dentist (who had stepped out for awhile) to see when they'd be back, but it wasn't going to be til after 1 in the afternoon. But that would be WAYYYYYY too late! So I hop in another taxi and head off to the 2nd office, "Dental House". The dentist is busy with another customer, but comes out to take a quick look, and says YES, he can help me, and he'll squeeze me in as soon as he's finished with his current client! Awesome news! He had my tooth looking like new by 9 am! And the best part? It cost $50 USD. I'm almost positive the same emergency procedure would have run me over $200 at home.
Much better, eh?
Next, on to hair & makeup, let's see what they can do with that zigzag gash across my forehead!
I've never had "airbrushed" makeup before, or since. And might I add, it's FREAKIN AMAZING what those people can do! My makeup artist, and she could be described as nothing less than a genius with the brush, did the most amazing job on my face. I mean, if you looked *very* closely you could still kinda see a bit of a darker spot in my forehead, but if you hadn't seen me the day before you would have had NO IDEA how terrible I looked! Plus, this s**t just doesn't come off, or smear, or run, or anything that normal makeup would do. In retrospect applying makeup directly to a huge open gash was a really terrible idea, but the photos turned out great!
You can still see a tiny zigzag line in the middle, but much better than the giant gash heh
So in the end everything turned out great, the wedding was a blast, everyone had a great evening (except for the groom being sick!), and my face made it through the evening without melting off ;)
Destination Wedding Tips and Reviews:
'Mandy' did a ton of research before deciding on vendors to use at their wedding. If you're interested in who we used and what we thought of them continue reading!
Hair & Makeup
If you were wondering who did such an amazing job at covering up that giant gash on my forehead, we used 'The Styling Trio.' If they could do that for me, just imagine what they can do for the bride! Or better yet just take a look at some of the remarkable photo's below (TO COME) ;-)
'Moments That Matter Photography' is a husband and wife team who aren't shy about getting down and dirty when requested, and they took some absolutely stunning pictures! They offer multiple packages, including a 'Trash the Dress'* package involving swimming in a beautifully haunting cenote.
* Trash the dress is something I do NOT recommend due to the safety issues involved with a dress that weighs a ton when soaking wet! However the bride was having none of this and chose to go through with it anyways. But be warned that people have drowned from participating in such activities. And if you choose to go through with it do so at your own risk but make sure to stay in shallow water.
These people were awesome! The hotel would not allow 'Mandy & Candy' to hire actual fire dancers, so they found the next best thing! We had water drummers, and hula dancers, and some insane light dances! (Name of company to come)
Playa del Carmen Travel Tips & Things To Do:
This was my 3rd trip to Playa del Carmen, and I've lost track of how many times I've been to Mexico as it's one of my favorite places to visit and relatively cheap and easy to get to from Canada.
You definitely do not need a car to get around Playa del Carmen, most things are within walking distance and for the things that aren't, the taxis are cheap. Also, most of the tour companies offer hotel pickup & dropoff.
Don't drink the tap water, don't brush your teeth with the tap water, don't open your mouth in the shower, avoid foods that have been rinsed with tap water (i.e. salads). Some go so far as to say avoid ice (and therefore slushy drinks as well), however I think for the most part those are generally made with purified water, but drink at your own risk. Some places use water purification systems but not all, and nobody wants a Charlotte from 'Sex In The City' scenario happening to them. I'm not as careful as I was when I first started going to Mexico (first time was in 2001), but I have been sick twice (neither time was in Playa del Carmen though). Not sure if it was from the water or from something bad that I ate, but if you've never been before it's better to be overly cautious then under.
5th Avenue is a must to wander down, there's some great places to eat both in the center of town and off the beaten path (generally the further away from 5th Avenue you get, the cheaper things become).
There's some great swing bars in Playa del Carmen too! & I don't mean of the "swinger" variety, I mean actual swingsets! and hammock bars! They're super fun!
Sometimes in town they will have baby animals that they offer for you, the tourist, to get your photo taken with. They are adorable, and it can be hard to resist the urge to go up and pet and snuggle with a baby leopard, or jaguar, or lion, or tiger, or whatever else they have on display that particular day. But do your research beforehand, these places claim to be helping the animals but in reality almost all are just exploiting them. Think about what happens to that adorable little kitty when it becomes too big for it's handlers and too aggressive for the tourists to play with. A few are legit (there's a monkey sanctuary somewhere nearby that I have heard good things about), but know which ones to support before you go. (Photo below taken years ago, before we were aware of the exploitation)
There are a few animal rescue organizations in Playa del Carmen, if you're looking for some feels while you're on vacation I highly recommend spending a day (or even a couple hours) helping out at one of the local rescues. Playa Animal Rescue is one that some friends spent the day volunteering at: http://playaanimalrescue.org/
Photo credit: Shanika Roy
There is some amazing art to be found in and around Playa del Carmen, we discovered these awesome metal sculptures on our way into town one afternoon!
* There are different sizes of catamarans available to rent, ranging from two-three seaters (plus guide) to 60+ people on a huge one. I recommend doing a bit of research as to cost and if you have a large group you will probably want to reserve this ahead of time. It is easy to do there, but you might not get the size or the time or the location that you want (we arranged it ahead of time but still were unable to leave from the Playa del Carmen port, we had vans take us up to Cancun for the day - although this may have had more to do with the size of our group than anything else).
** If you've never heard of Coco Bongo and you are going to be in Cancun or Playa del Carmen or Punta Cana, then I highly recommend checking it out, it's an awesome time! It is 18+ though, sorry - not kid friendly. https://www.cocobongo.com/ (at June 2017 these are their three locations). They do a ton of short skits throughout the evening, ranging from Madonna to Green Goblin to Moulin Rouge to Star Wars! They have something for everyone! I enjoyed it so much I will likely dedicate an entire post to it at some point ;)
CocoBongo, Playa del Carmen, February 2016
*** I haven't actually been to Xplor, but I hear great things - there's ziplines, caves, and much more: http://www.xplor.travel/
**** I also have not been to Xcaret, it is an eco-archaeological park with a ton of attractions and activities to check out: http://www.xcaret.com/
I received nothing for my reviews, I am genuinely obsessed with CocoBongo (been there twice, dying to go again), and my friends loved Xplor and Xcaret