The Writer on the Beach
Playa del Carmen–based journalist Rebecca Page has written about ceviche, the etymology of the word “Maya,” and how to have a better vacation for The Playa Times. The paper’s flexibility allows her to pen editorials and interview engaging personalities. As chefs, environmental activists, and entrepreneurs flock to the region, Page is on the scene and ready to report. She told us about what brought her to the area, her favorite spots in Playa del Carmen, and what visitors should know.
How did you end up in Playa del Carmen, and what keeps you there?
It’s the typical story of Playa, really. I came in 2006 on vacation and fell in love with it. I had to figure out a way to stay here. I went home, hatched a plan, and five years later made the move. The editorial I wrote yesterday is based on this question! What keeps me here is more than just the beaches and weather. The Riviera Maya is a young region that is attracting some really interesting and intelligent people. I have met so many from all over the globe. I have made friends who have helped me expand my thinking beyond my own little world. There are people doing some amazing things—creating animal welfare organizations from nothing, starting cool and creative businesses, working with NGOs to protect the environment. The list goes on and on. It’s an exciting place to be, and the people are why I stay.
What are your favorite topics to write about (or favorite stories you’ve written), and why?
I love to interview people. I have interviewed so many people with vastly different stories. I recently interviewed Rick Bayless, the American chef who specializes in Mexican cooking. Rick is famous in the U.S. for his restaurants, cookbooks, and TV show, Mexico: One Plate at a Time. His knowledge of Mexican gastronomy is incredible, and it was interesting to listen to him describe the differences between the food culture of the U.S. and Mexico. He also talked about the development and growth of Mexican chefs over the last decade.
I also recently interviewed a woman, Florencia Cerutti, a Mexican marine biologist studying spotted eagle rays in the region for an NGO called Blue Core. We spoke for over an hour about their program, the challenges of environmental protection in the region, and the impact the region’s development has had on the environment. She’s young, smart, and a perfect example of the type of people this region attracts and needs.
How would you describe the writing and journalism community in the area?
I am still getting to know the community here. I have been so focused on what we are doing or what we should be doing that I haven’t spent the time I would like getting to know my own community better. What I would love to see is those of us in the English writing community collaborate more and help promote and support the local community. I sometimes see the same people who write for online journals at events and we often talk about things we’re working on and things we want to do. In my dream world, we’d all be working with each other, helping each other out to keep sharing information and stories.
What are some of your favorite spots for after work meals / drinks / activities?
I love Embarcadero 18 in Paseo Coba for their mango shrimp ceviche and cold beers. They are just downstairs from our office, so I love to head there after work on Quincena with the team from the office. I love Babe’s on 10th because the food is amazing and the staff is great. If I’m just hanging out, having a few beers, it’s McCarthy’s—especially on Saturday nights with their live band. They have some incredibly good bands that play there and a good crowd that loves rock.
I love the beach, of course, so heading to Xcacel on Sundays with a cooler of beer and friends is at the top of my favorite activities list. I also love to go to the cenotes, but they seem to be getting more and more crowded lately.
What should newcomers to the area know?
There is so much. Don’t be afraid to get out and try new things, whether that is food or activities. Don’t be afraid to get away from the beach. There are some really cool places to visit that don’t involve the beach. Cities and towns like Valladolid, Rio Lagartos, Celestun, Merida, Cenotes, and Maya Ruins are off the beaten path. When an opportunity to do something new and different presents itself, do it. Also, learn a few words of Spanish. Saying “gracias” instead of “thanks” may seem small, but it goes a long way.