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The Twin Faces of Progreso

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A few kilometers along the beach from our Chicxulub home is the sprawling port of Progreso. Most of it isn’t pretty – but it is authentically Mexican. This is hurricane alley, so many of the tiny concrete-block houses have seen better days…
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There is no shortage of fixer-uppers here, and almost every other place is either for sale or rent, but there are also plenty of freshly painted little haciendas with bougainvilleas and frangipanes around the door…
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There are also many cars that would be quite at home on Gabriola…
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Progreso, we read in our guide book, is tipped to be the next Playa del Carmen. But hold your burros – this place has a long way to go in the margaritas and mariachi band department before it will attract the ritzy crowd from the gilded beaches of Cancun and Playa del Carmen. On five days a week Progreso is just a sleepy, inward looking, fishing port where the local Mayans shop in the market for fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood. Here is Estrelle and her mother, our favourite greengrocers, surrounded by the freshest produce available…
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Estrelle always chooses the very best for us and delights in helping us with our Spanish, but all the locals are incredibly friendly and very helpful and we have no trouble being understood. However, every Monday and Wednesday Progreso turns it’s face outwards - to the pier that stretches nearly 7 kilometres into the ocean - where cruise ships disgorge thousands of knick-knack hungry tourists, and then everything changes...
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Trinket salesman and tourist touts of all kind flood into town to pick the pockets of the cruise passengers and prices go through the roof. The whole place bursts to life with enthusiastic salesmen and massage beds, (some on the mainstreet itself), and this market springs out of nowhere on a dusty bit of wasteland near the beach…
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We could wear badges saying, “Yo vivo aqui”, (I live here), but there’s no need. The touts, selling clothes, cigars, hats, and all manner of local products, aren’t at all pushy, and give us a chance to practice our Spanish. As soon as we tell them that we are (temporary) residents the price plummets back to earth.
Progresso is quaint – in a Mexican way – and we enjoy our visits. The clean sandy beach stretches to the horizon, a new promenade is just being completed, and there are plenty of beachfront cafes and restaurants from where we can watch the world, and the pelicans, pass by. “Esta es la vida” (This is the life).

Posted by Hawkson 17:22 Archived in Mexico

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Comments

Sounds like your Spanish is coming along nicely!!
Progresso sounds like LaPenita ..... will be doing the same as you 3 weeks from today. Can't wait...Mexico is tugging at my heart strings! Enjoy!

by Maxine Stewart

Well - the food shots begin to roll in! The black bananas look very cool - plantains? I bet the tomatoes taste like real tomatoes. The grocers look great too!

by Tom

Aloha from Maui! I'll be home next week and I'll write more then. Love Joyce

by Joyce

Ah, the food pictures--more, SIVP. I'd also like to see the restaurants along that street where that two-toned car is parked.

by R and B

I love to see what the travel brochures never show.

by Janet

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