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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Relaxing & Shopping in Cancun, Mexico

Today, rather than taking a day trip to Cozumel, we elected to stay around the Hilton Cancun Beach & Golf Resort. What we have noticed as the week goes on is that earlier and earlier in the morning people are setting out towels around the shaded areas near the pool. Interestingly, the hotel has been less full – but perhaps there are more tourists. What increasingly has been happening is that setting out towels is not enough; rather you must leave some of your personal items on top of them.

It really is not a big deal, other than a few of the folks are setting out towels and other items only not to show up after noon. Meaning that we have seen some families come out to the pool and end up frustrated by this. There should be a reasonable policy about this, but I would imagine this problem is age-long as we had seen it a number of times at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Later in the afternoon, we headed into Cancun Center to do a little bit of shopping. We ended up taking the bus, which was very easy and a fraction of the cost of a taxi. For example, a taxi down to Cancun Center may cost you as much as 150 pesos ($14) which a bus ride for two people to the same area is only 13 pesos ($1.10). Our bus was a little crowded by the end, but not unbearable.

Once arriving in Cancun Center, the folks from the open air market or flea market as some people call it are immediately pleading with you to come into their store. Comically, a few of them mention, come see the “junk” in my store which was good for a laugh since it was mostly true. We wandered through a few, but the majority of the items were the same things you can find in Tijuana, Mexico or Rosarito, Mexico. Seriously, who wants Mexican blankets when it is 95 degrees outside and 90% humidity? We found a couple of items we were interested in, but wanted to do a little more research.

Here is a quick tip for those going to Cancun with the desire to shop the flea market. Right across the street is the “Plaza la Fiesta” store that has the majority of the items in the flea market. If you take the bus down to Cancun Center (Centro), then you will get a 10% off coupon with your bus ticket. Find what you want in Plaza la Fiesta, check the price, subtract 10%, and use that as a starting place for bargaining with those in the flea market. What you will find is that their starting price is usually 100%-150% higher than Plaza la Fiesta. Simply mention the price at Plaza la Fiesta and you will be positioned to bargain for a decent price.

Best of all, you will know the price was better than what you would have paid for it in a store – a true bargain. Worst case, if they do not bargain lower – you know you will not be paying more than you should have.

What is your best shopping in Mexico experience? Let me know with a comment below.

After our shopping expedition, it was nearing 9:00pm and we tried one of the “typical” Cancun restaurants, Carlos n Charlie’s restaurant. It is owned by the same folks who own Coco Bongo, right across the street as well as Senior Frogs a little way down the road. A the time we went in Cancun is still pretty dead – given that we are here during the slow season.

Carlos n Charlies Entrance in Cancun Center, Mexico

Carlos n Charlie’s is a fun place to eat with a mix of fun-loving waiters and entertainment from the occasional song and dance line breaking out to the waiters teasing a few of the patrons of the restaurants. The food is not half bad either.

In the fun part of the evening, we both happened to order tacos to eat. This means you get to wear the famous bibs that say “Esta comiendo. I’m eating tacos.” and an instruction guide that tells you how to eat them. The guide itself has six steps.

Ashley with her bib and Taco eating instructions at Carlos n Charlies in Cancun, Mexico

1. Hold the taco in four fingers leaving the pinky finger standing.
2. Stick out your butt and bend your torax slightly to the front.
3. With your left hand place a dish under the taco to avoid the dripping.
4. Bite it from an end
5. Bite it from the other end
6. Final bite.

All in all, a Carlos n Charlie’s provides a pretty fun dinner and place to spend a few hours relaxing.

Live entertainment at Carlos n Charlies in Cancun Center, Mexico

Have you had the Carlos n Charlie’s experience? What did you think?