Crowds return to Playa del Carmen |

Crowds return to Playa del Carmen

Special to the Daily Relaxing on the beach at Playa del Carmen.

As most of my readers know, my reputation rests on veracity, and I won’t sugar-coat what actuality happened in last month’s hurricane in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Most Americans heard, day after day on the broadcast news, that Playa del Carmen was devastated by Hurricane Emily’s winds of up to 145 miles per hour. Nothing could be further from the truth.The last hurricane in Playa came around 1988, so every 17 years isn’t toobad. Besides, if I listened to the weather man, I would never visit my mother in Kansas City, because 70 or so tornados are cited every year from

April through August in the mid-west.In actuality, beautiful downtown Playa, fast becoming the number one resort destination in all of Mexico (even Mexicans love to vacation there), lost only one beach bar, Captain Tutix, and another beach bar’s palaupa (grass roof). Yes, world famous Fifth Avenue, with all its fabulous restaurants, bars and shopping, had some broken windows and a beautiful, flowered vine blown off the concrete walls of a hotel. But, all-in-all, the damage was minor. Playa’s plastered-over concrete structures held up well!There was, however, one death that was hurricane related. My good friend, Cindy, a beautiful 32-year old brunette from England who I often meet at the beach, lost her solid-rock 33-year-old boyfriend, Ralph, a very strong German man that Cindy affectionately called “Hot Date!”According to friends, Ralph, a dive instructor, was up on his roof the night before the full force of Emily hit, battening down the hatches, so to speak. Ralph allegedly made a mistake and put his ladder against electrical wires and was electrocuted instantly. This is so sad. This was the only reported death that I am aware of.Rather, the most damage that I saw on my recent trip August 8-16 was in Puerto Aventuras, which, all-in-all, held up pretty well, also. My real estate buddy’s office lost some outdoor sign boxes on the walls, and many trees in Puerto were blown down. Mother Nature saw fit to thin the trees in the jungle, as one can now actually see part of buildings on the beach from the federal highway, with a portion of the jungle canopy removed.

With the natural, underground river systems (that you can scuba dive and snorkel in), surrounded by oasis cenotes, you can be sure this jungle will grow back, as enough trees survived the storm to continue growth.My friend Diane’s home in the jungle, near Puerto Aventuras, also sustained minor damage. Her concrete walls held, but she smartly removed all doors to avoid implosion, covered all furniture with tarps, and only had extensive tree cleanup, plus repair to two palaupa roofs in small outbuildings. Her crew of five men were ingeniously lifting a small palaupa roof back to its original position, with pulleys and ropes placed in trees above the formerly shady picnic structure. Diane was stuck in the jungle for three days, with another homeowner, and three or four helpers, cutting back small, horizontal trees that blocked the jungle road. Then, a road crew of 16 men arrived and finished the job in another day or two.My jeep, which Diane was nice enough to allow me to park at her home, amazingly survived well, with only two dings on the roof (no big deal) and a cracked windshield. It survived the “eye” of the hurricane.The crowds from Europe have returned to Playa del Carmen, and two of my tour vendors, the British sailboat/snorkel trip and the 4-wheel jungle tour to oasis cenotes, are reporting that business is picking up again.And, more importantly, I was unable to book a client into any of my three most expensive hotels last Saturday evening, due to them selling out. I did place the client in my “value” beach hotel, on one hour’s notice.

Airlines have been offering some very special rates to the Cancun Airport, which is located 20 minutes from Cancun’s All-Inclusive hotel row, and only 40 minutes from the beautiful beaches in downtown Playa del Carmen.Michael Cacioppo, is managing director of, LLC, a local travel planning consultant on vacations to Mexico.Vail, Colorado

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