Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring Break in Cancun with the Panasonic GF1

For spring break I went to Cancun with 2 of my really old friends. I was skeptical of the trip, thinking that I would be trapped in a place reminiscent of a local water park with a crowd of drunk high schoolers.

I actually enjoyed the hotel and resort quite a bit; it turns out Barcelo Maya is located an hour taxi ride away from all the noise and intense partying. Just a bunch of families on vacation...

I found it a bit boring, but the mix of a decent buffet, beach, and unlimited alcohol helped lull me into a state of relaxation. 

Whenever we went out to the beach initially the weather would be great, but then suddenly start to rain. I I found this to be really funny since we have a running joke that a dark cloud follows my friend James wherever he goes.

-An afternoon in Playa del Carmen


On 1 of the 3 days of our short vacation we chose to venture out to Playa del Carmen, located 30 minutes away from the resort. We were dropped off a couple blocks from 5th Avenue or "Cinta" which is the main road full of tourist shops and restaurants. I found myself quickly enamored with the off roads. Finally... something real, something different.

the game

Already injected with alcohol from early morning drinking, we needed to use the restroom pretty much on arrival. The only solution was to go into a local bar or restaurant, where the cheapest thing was beer.

Thus began a seemingly endless cycle of drinking and restroom hunting.


The beach in Playa del Carmen was better than the resort by far, cleaner water and less clutter.

5th Avenue was loaded with tourist traps. The locals really went out of their way to draw attention to their stores.

first contact

Dogs always make interesting photographs -- a tip given by Elliot Erwitt and my old photography prof. I really wish I had a hood for my Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 It seems like a lot of my pictures have a glare of haze.

la parrilla

James took advantage of his 7+ years of learning Spanish and asked the locals where they liked to eat. Most people pointed us to La Parrilla, which I found odd since it was still located on touristy 5th.

The menu seemed really Americanized. I ordered chorizo quessadillas, my friends got a plate of nachos(just to see the extent of how good nachos can be) and a taco plate of beef and nopalitos. I found the food to be quite tasty, but nothing I couldn't easily get in the states.


A lot of higher end stores are springing up, but it doesn't seem like the locals care since they can't afford to shop at these stores anyways.

We were stuffed beyond belief... but James, in his drunken fury, decided to ask even more locals where to eat.

We quickly found ourselves in a small seafood restaurant, great... more food!

I couldn't identify anything on the menu, so I randomly chose "sopas de pescado" or seafood soup(without even knowing that sopas was soup), it seems like I chose right due to the waiter's happy and surprised expression. The soup was a cross between seafood gumbo and pho. Take all the good bits from the gumbo: shrimp, crab, fish, oysters, and have it in a relatively thin broth that when combined with lime, packs a serious flavor punch. Even though I was really full, I loved this honest and humble meal.

sopas de pescado

A mother and child came in. He was happily eating a slice of pizza from another stand, and his mom proceeded to order some items off the menu. Within moments the mother left without a trace. At first the child didn't notice, only minutes later did he go out of the restaurant looking for her. This scene really struck a chord with James, who is usually known for his overwhelming douchbaggery.

All in all I wish I had more time to explore the city... perhaps another trip will solve that issue.

-Back to the beach

We made a quick beach run before we had to check out at noon, I suddenly remembered a photo that one of my contacts on flickr took not too long ago. I tried to recreate it... I loved how his photo seemed so alien yet comforting and familiar at the same time.

-Gear Thoughts

All photos were taken with a Panasonic GF1 with the 20mm f/1.7 lens. I really think this was the better choice over my Canon 5D for this trip. The DSLR would have been way too bulky, and most likely would have drawn a lot more attention from the locals. I found the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) accessory extremely useful when it was very bright outside. The sun creates a really bright glare on the back LCD that makes framing on the back screen virtually useless. And while we're on the subject of intense sunlight... I find it kind of odd how there isn't even an official lens hood for the fantastic 20mm. I really believe it should be included in all kits.

In my honest opinion the Olympus EPL1, EPL2, and EP2 are better camera bodies due to their in body image stabilization and WAY better EVF, but even if one decides to get an Olympus Pen, they should really consider the Pannasonic 20mm f/1.7, it's an amazingly sharp lens.

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous pictures Pat :)
    & I loved reading about your vacay