Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Playa del Carmen is one of the fastest growing cities in all of Latin America. It’s one of Mexico's major destinations and since it’s just outside of Cancun, it is the gateway to the resorts of Riviera Maya and Tulum. The city has changed drastically over the years and now, every store and international brand can be found on its main strip. Most locals live on one side of the main highway, which many travellers do not get to see. Services are not the same there and are much more basic, even the roads remain unpaved.
El Hongo, “The Mushroom” is a volunteer-run restaurant created as a means to earn income to support Calle 19, a community art program in the “real” Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Volunteers from the community developed El Hongo to clean up the neighbourhood and inspire youth to take part in programs to develop their skills and give them confidence for a brighter future. G Adventures groups tour the neighbourhood to see the street art created by the youth who are part of the program and enjoy a meal at the restaurant.
Funds from the onsite restaurant are used for programs including art and cooking lessons, and to pay for the teachers and materials that work with the youth in the area. Art programs are tailored to youth ages 6-15 in Playa and are used to foster creativity and support sustainability and development in their neighbourhoods. Over 30 youth are benefitting from these programs with over 1000 G Adventures travellers dining and supporting the restaurant annually.
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