Yes, it was a tourist trap, but it could be the best tourist trap on the planet! They (whoever they are) did so much right in Playa del Carmen. There was basically one main walking street for tourists. It was a block from the beach. That street was lined with dining for any budget, cafés, hotels, souvenirs and all the shops you would expect. But, it was what you didn't expect that was so fascinating!
Mariachi bands strolled up and down the street. I loved that touch of Mexican culture and music in the air! Valadores, those elegant men who hang upside down as they gracefully swung around a pole, performed several times a day and into the evening. On the beach, musicians in Aztec costumes chanted, sang, drummed and danced.
But, my personal favorite were the men wearing feathered Mayan headdresses stretching a yard or more in all directions. Javier also spoke English. Although he struck a stern pose, he was really so warm and friendly.
On my return to Mexico a year later, I thought there could be a chance that I might be able to locate Javier and give him a portrait. I'd never been able to do that before. If I was going to find Javier, there was only one place to look. I headed out to the main tourist drag.
It only took me an hour upon arrival. What were the odds?
Actually, I found another Mayan king and asked if he knew Javier. As it turned out, these two kings were good friends. However, Javier had since given up his feathered head gear for a new job. But as soon as I showed the friend my drawing, king number two personally brought me to the new job location. We were less than a block away.
Javier was even more delightful than I remembered. The portrait took him completely by surprise and he was thrilled. On this second visit, I had the chance to ask a burning question. He was not a Mayan king, even though he was in the heart of Mayan country. Nope, he was an Aztec. The Aztecs wore more feathers.
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