It was Day 6 and I was trying very hard NOT to think about how many days we had left, and just enjoy them.
We had breakfast at Bella Vista and then had our butler take us to the shopping center so we could catch the 10 am shuttle to Playa del Carmen. There was already a pretty long line. Our butler told us there would be three buses, so not to worry about the line.
We waited in line for about 20 minutes before the first bus showed up. When we got on the driver said we would be the last ones, but he must have miscounted because it was full and there was one guy standing. I do not recommend standing because it is a 20-25 minute ride. We got off and waited for the next bus, which came quickly. Being the first ones on, we sat in the front row. At the time, the shuttle was free. They now charge $4/per person/each way. A taxi costs about $20-25 each way.
The shuttle dropped us off pretty close to 5th Ave. The shuttle ran every hour until about 12 or 1, and then it was every 2 hours. We were not sure we wanted to stay until 2:30, but decided we could always take a taxi back.
We had been to 5th Ave. a number of times before, so we knew how aggressive the vendors and show owners can be. I knew what we were looking for. Sometimes I like to walk several blocks before stopping anywhere. Today I just wanted to get my shopping done and go back to the Grand. It was HOT. We found what we wanted at two different stores and stopped at a couple of others in the pursuit.
At one shop the girl there said, “We have a special deal just for you.” I smiled at her, but was thinking, “Does anyone really believe that?”
Our first purchase was a silver (we thought) bracelet with an Aztec design for our son, Patrick. He really liked it. The guy who sold it to me warned me that not all places sell real silver. Well, apparently, he was one of them who doesn’t. The bracelet broke and it was ceramic inside with only a silver coating. Silver flexes, ceramic does not. I have to say, in all the jewelry purchases I have made in Mexico (and I have made many), this was the only time I got burned.
The next place we bought a silver bracelet for me, silver hoop earrings for Susie and Zung got cuff links (for those rare events when he wears a tux and I get to wear a pretty dress). The guy who sold them to us kept giving us one price for everything and I kept asking him what each individual piece cost. I don’t think we got a fabulous deal, but we liked everything we got and that is what is most important.
I know the whole pesos vs US dollars things is a hotly debated subject. I always tip in pesos and have rarely found it a hassle to get small bills (it was harder at the Royal Hideaway than the Iberostar hotels – point for the Grand). When the salesman quoted me the price I asked, just to be sure, if it was pesos or dollars. He acted indignant and said, “Pesos. This is Mexico.”
The first bracelet I had bought at the other store I had paid cash. However, I did not have enough cash for all these things, so I ended up paying with a credit card. The amount that came through on my card was more than what he quoted me. Not a lot, but I feel like if you have cash, you avoid surprises later.
We were finished in time to try to catch the 12:30 bus back to the Grand. We got to the pick-up point around 12:15 and a line had already formed.. The bus did not arrive until 12:40 and it was a long, hot 25 minutes. It was in the sun and we didn’t want to get out of line. Fortunately, there were two buses going back.
When we got back to the Iberostar shopping center, we called for a golf cart to go back to the Grand. We were soon having lunch in the air-conditioned coolness of Las Brisa.