By Alisa W., guest blogger studying Spanish in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
The end of my third week here in Playa is almost here. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I will be very excited to get home and enjoy some air-conditioning! On the other, I do enjoy Playa and the friendly people. I also especially enjoy spending many afternoons on the beach getting a tan!
Something I have been thinking about is all the vendors that sell food on the corners and around town. Everyone has always told me, “Don't eat anything from those places! You'll get sick!!”. However, a lot of people also told me, “Don't go to Mexico! You'll get kidnapped”. For three weeks now I have been walking around in Mexico, a lot of the time alone, and I am fortunate to say that I am still quite safe! I know there are dangerous places in Mexico, but Playa is for the most part no different safety wise than many American cities. You just have to be aware of your surroundings.
I often see many of the locals eating from these small stands, and I wonder if they are as bad as everybody says. In some ways I understand the concern. Especially if they clean their food using only the tap water (in case you didn't know, it's not safe to drink!). In other ways, these people are trying to make a living selling food, and they won't last long if they get a reputation for having “dirty” food. On my first night here, I did get some fresh cut coconut from a stand down on quinta avenida (the tourist avenue), and besides being a bit dry it was very good, and I'm happy to say there were no ill health effects.
My conclusion: I can't really say whether I recommend not eating there or not. There are concerns, but you might find some of the best home made food you ever had at these stands. Use your better judgement, if the food smells bad or looks bad, then don't eat it. However, if the stand looks well taken care of, why not try a little bit?
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