If you followed our instagram post on the first 24 hours of our trip then you’ll know that on the flight to Cancún we met an amazing lady who invited us to spend a couple of nights as her guests at the exclusive Rosewood Mayakoba resort near Playa del Carmen. We had no idea what to expect from the Rosewood and we needed to get to our AirBnb as originally planned, collect keys and leave some belongings, so we caught our airport transfer and went to explore our apartment, planning to try and find our way across to the Rosewood that night.
We dumped our bags, re-packed one for a few nights ‘away’ from our base and tried to figure out how to get to the Rosewood, which is about an hour’s drive away near Playa del Carmen. Our pre-arranged airport transfer driver quoted us $$$, so we figured an Uber would be cheaper, but it turns out Uber is illegal in the state of Quintana Roo and only operates in a semi-clandestine manner in Cancun outside of the Hotel Zone – so our attempts were thwarted and at gone 10pm Mexico time after a 12 hour flight, we resolved to call it a night and try again in the morning.
On the morning of Christmas Eve we set off early on the local bus from the end of our road and headed into central Cancun to try and get a cheaper taxi or coach towards Playa del Carmen. We jumped off the bus near the depot and were almost immediately asked by a local if we wanted to go to Playa del Carmen; he had 2 seats spare on the local minibus and the fare was 40 pesos each. That’s about £1.50 (approx 95% less than a cab – no joke). It seemed a no-brainer to us in our new mindset of travellers on a budget, so we jumped in and settled down at the back of the bus amongst all the locals heading off to work for the day. They hopped off at random points along the way shouting ‘baja’ to the driver when they wanted him to stop, their seats being filled along the way when someone waved us down.
We’d looked up the Rosewood Mayakoba the night before and knew there was no food or drink included; we also knew the prices were as expected from a 5*+ resort but we couldn’t start our adventure of a lifetime off being cautious and pass up the incredibly generous offer we’d been made. So, given that we were in the first 3 days of a 5 month long trip and couldn’t face blowing our budget, we planned to find a budget breakfast and a supermarket to stock up on supplies and snacks for a few days of relaxing around a pool before making our final journey to the resort. Fairly sure we were the only guests in that particular hotel storing meat, cheese and long life chocolate brioche in our mini-bar…
Anyway, as the bus reached the centre of Playa del Carmen we made several turns to reach the bus station and spotted a colourful looking place advertising coffee which we resolved to find our way back to it when we got off the bus. The place turned out to be Ocho’s and was a perfect spot for coffee and eggs just a couple of blocks back from the beach. Ocho himself welcomed us and was one of the first locals we properly chatted with; he was laid back, kind, welcoming and happily let us take a few photos. The vibe was so chilled we left feeling equal parts proud of our local bus catching skills and like we’d gotten our 2 weeks of ‘rnr’ off to the right kind of laid back start.