Upon my arrival to Mexico, I called one of my most treasured friends, C., for dinner.! We initially met at the first hotel I worked at in Playa del Carmen. Even though, we went on to different jobs, that first meeting was so amazing – we became immediate friends and confidantes. C. is a former dancer who now spreads the joy of dance to younger generations. There were a few things on our to-do list together – talk..!! A lot..!! I also wanted to eat at El Fogon – I needed authentic Mexican food.! And finally, we took a stroll down Quinta Avenida. Ah it was good to be back 🙂
One of my most treasured activities when I lived in Playa del Carmen was to walk along the famed Quinta Avenida. Though of course to me, its fame was a minor reason for the stroll. Usually, Quinta was my path to work or my means home, my sojourn to dinner, or a friend’s house. Always, there were salutations to be proclaimed to the endless parade of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances met along the avenue. And constantly, there was people watching – local, expat, tourist, and even the four-legged variety.
For tourists, Quinta Avenida showcases all the best that Playa del Carmen has to offer. The fantastic restaurants, the high end stores, the kitschy tourist markets, souvenir shops, and bars are all on full display every night of the week. Quinta Avenida is only open to foot traffic and while you can walk and shop on it during the day, it gets pretty hot outside. Very few shops or restaurants have air conditioning along the route. Therefore, evening time is the perfect time to promenade the length of Quinta Avenida. Quinta Avenida or Fifth Avenue comes alive as the sun sets over the Caribbean!
And no night is lovelier to saunter down this amazing pedestrian boulevard than Thursday night. And it just so happened to be a Thursday when I arrived.!! Every Thursday evening, starting at 6pm, there is an open air art show in the middle of the avenue. Artists from all over the Riviera Maya, including Playa del Carmen, display their artwork and their talent on the chic avenue. The event is open to all local artists, both Mexican and foreign nationals, who reside in the area. The art show promotes twenty city blocks of amazing and beautiful art along Quinta, beginning at Avenida Constituyentes (18th) and ending at Calle 40.
Caminarte, as the art show is called, is a take on two Spanish words. Caminar means to walk in Spanish; while, arte means art. The two words combined together refer to an art walk! Caminarte was conceived and organized by the 5th Avenida Xaman Ha committee in 2009. Other collaborators include the local municipality, the Riviera Maya Fidecomiso, the 5th Avenue Neighborhood Association, local businesses, various hotel groups, and the Chamber of Commerce of Solidaridad.
The purpose of the art show is to provide free exhibition space for painters, sculptors, photographers, performing artists, and musicians. The organizers also hope to increase global awareness and exposure around Playa del Carmen’s lively and talented artistic community; while, at the same time, creating a sense of community and belonging among the artists, the locals, and the expats. Caminarte is a marvelous and versatile display of their artwork. As well as, the art show fosters a spectacular and thriving social scene.
I always loved walking along Quinta on Thursday evenings! And my first night back was no exception.!! In fact, I made it a point to be out that night frequently because the atmosphere was always exciting and electric. People stopped to look at the artwork, talk to the artists, and talk to each other! My favorite spot was sitting outside in front of the Starbucks on Quinta and Calle 28. The artist who used the space in front of that Starbucks created the most beautiful female faces by painting with dots or pointillism. I always wanted to buy one and take it home with me!
That night was sheer bliss. Talking to C., walking along Quinta, and soaking in all the magic of Playa del Carmen while enjoying Caminarte. It was a magnificent way to be welcomed back to town..!! The next time you find yourself visiting Playa del Carmen or really anywhere along the Riviera Maya, I heartily endorse a leisurely walk along Quinta Avenida. Do all the amazing activities the area has on offer – excursions, ruins, the beach, cuisine, and beverages. But while you are here, please remember also to take some time to appreciate the work of the area’s brilliant and gifted artists!