Isla Mujeres MX, 2022, Part III
One of my favorite things to do here are going on early morning walks, jogging along the beach or along the malacon before the busy-ness of the day begins. It’s a nice long stretch of walkway along the east ocean, always with a good breeze, the walkway lined with new construction, old ruins, hotels, hostels, condos, homesteads, little cafes and such,.
I meander past statues of famous Mexican leaders, colorful murals and incredible sculptures scattered along the walk. A Hyperbaric Chamber – in a place like this, gotta have one of those. The sidewalks and streets throughout Isla are mostly a combination of brick, stone and concrete. The electrical grid reminds me of my visitys to Thailand, even to the plug sneaking out of the ground on one of the public squares which often hosts music and other events.
As you’ve settled into the day to day in Isla, you recognize various sounds coming up behind you – scooters, autos, carts and occasionally a big truck, in the road where we pedestrians often share the little narrow streets.
When I’m home in Napa, I’m a busy sourdough bread baker and so I wanted to bring some of my sourdough starter from home. I knew I wouldn’t be baking, but pancakes always work on a little hotplate. Before coming to Isla, I dried a thin spread of SuzieStarter on parchment paper, broke it into little pieces and stashed it all into a little ziplock baggie. No, neither TSA or customs batted an eye. After a week or so of loving care, that sourdough was up and running, providing me with a sourdough pancake every few days, covered with fruit and jam. Yummm. I really don’t want to eat out every meal all the time. Though I will pretty much spring for coffee and a cerveza every day of the week.
The Aki Market in the square by the church, is where I go for kitchen supplies like green tea, fresh fruit & veggies, chicken soup, cheese, oatmeal and oreos, of course. Coffee I always get somewhere, sometimes to go. I have a few favorite spots like Cafe Isla and Cafe Cito.
One night at Tiny Gecko I met a lady from Dallas who answered a question I had about this naval ship hanging out away from the northeast edge of the island the past few days. ‘Turns out it was there as the finish line of a regatta that had sailed from the mainland several days previously. Regattas have been going on for a long time here. Her husband didn’t place, she admitted, because his crew decided it was vacation and quit the heavy work necessary to win. Hubby wasn’t happy.
One morning last week, two outgoing nice and pleasant guys outside one of those numerous jewelry stores on Av Rueda Medina finally convinced me to come in and look at their store, after days of my telling them no gracias. I wasn’t really interested in jewelry.
It was all a ruse to tag team me into tasting their tequila and getting me to buy a few bottles of their $300 USD stuff. LOL. Thanks, but thanks. But who can turn down shots of Peanut Butter or Cofffe/Vanilla Tequila on an empty stomach?
Out for a swim one day, smelling the patch of sargassum (seaweed) below me and still enjoying the water after sitting in the hot sun reading. The sea and the swimming has been fabulous. And always a joy to people watch here in all kinds of beachwear.
At Abuelo’s one evening, I was upstairs in the breeze, server Janey and I were talking a bit about the nice expanse of jungle adjoining the transformer station, across the road. Janey told me there used to be a lot more trees. I asked if the trees had gone down in a storm, and she told me they’d been cut down to build things on the island. She says the jungle that’s growing over there now grows really, really fast – with weedy looking foliage. I sit and watch the guy in the palm tree across the road shucking coconuts to the ground and wonder at his mastery.
New cafe opened up just about the time I came to town, Sueño do Marfil, not even on the google map when I last checked. Great staff, all around, and tasty food to say the least. The second story balcony is the place to be for a breeze and a cold cerveza on a full moon night. Or anytime at all. Next door to the famous Tiny Gecko!
When on the beach any time of day, roaming sales-people with bracelets, beads, dresses and more make their way amongst the beach chairs and sunbathers day and evening alike. I picked up a few bracelets from a sweet yourng woman. One day I watched a young man traipsing through the sand, in and out of beach chairs and umbrellas sprinkled with tourists, his little 7 year old son dragging behind. Little or no safety net in Mexico, people work wherever, whenever, they can or they don’t feed their families.
A big tall looking anglo fellow with a T-shirt logo STOP PUTIN in yellow and blue graphic comes to the table where I’m sitting at Coco’s beach club. He places four little key-chain like things, elephants, turtles and such on the table. He hands me a card which says he’s deaf and he’s asking for me to buy him these good luck charm for his health. 70 pesos ($3 use).
I thought the card was a poor translation and that that he didn’t really mean to say buy them “for him”, that they were actually for me to buy from him. I was wrong. Because he then picked up the 70 pesos ($3 usd) I put on the table, as well as the four good luck charms and went on to another table to ask the same. I chuckled and figured WTH, good for him. That was the same night I considered having rice and plantains for dinner – and opted for cheesecake.
I spent some sweet time exploring more of the island, away from my neighborhood. Isla Mujeres is the smallest island in the Caribbean, gets the most tourists I’ve been told, and even TripAdviser recommends the place. It’s only 5 miles long by about a third of a mile wide, easy to explore via bus, bicycle, taxi cabs (very reasonable set price) and golf cart.
I had two days of golf cart exploring after a couple of bus trips, getting on and off to check out places like the Mango Cafe, the Chedraui Market and Punta Sur (more on that later). One of those days I wandered into Garrafon de Castilla, had a fine day in the shade of an umbrella with a lounge chair, cold beer and easy to walk in fishies to visit.
There are dozens of golf cart companies on the island. I had a recommendation from the folks at Sky Hawk Divers, who also own the AirBnB I’m renting for this stay. I walked over to Ciro’s for my big adventure and was waylaid by the long line, so instead I detoured myself into having breakfast and a coffee at Chaya & Cacao. Good thing I did. When I went to take a picture, I realized my phone was back home. Short walk while my delicious breakfast was readied and then I was set.
No one in line for carts after breakfast. It had been more three weeks since I’d been behind the wheel of a car. At least that many years since since driving a golf cart in Isla. And they still gave me one.
I figured out the two keys. It took me a minute; coffee hadn’t set in quite yet. One to start the cart, one for the bike lock cable to hold my bags onto the seat so they don’t pop out on all the little bumps in the road AND also to lock the steering wheel when I walk away. Sure don’t want someone else to drive off with my cute little green cart.
First off, a successful few feet ahead and then a back-up into a parking place at the Correos de México Avenida Vicente Guerrero Isla Mujeres – Post Office to send off a few postcards. Very few postcards for sale these days; internet’s influence I suppose. I guess I’m just old fashioned. Then around the blocks a few times to park and bop into the stationary store for some colored pencils and a sketch book for my planned artwork. Then off to the south.
I meandered up and down and crossways around the island. I spotted the lagoon and marina, a part of the island I’d not explored before, and spent some time in Punta Sur. The next day did the same with Carmen, my friend who came over for the day from Cancun. She did the driving that day, and she had no fear!! More of Carmen and my adventures next time.
Also went to the Women’s Beading Cooperative where I made a little investment of my own for some of their gorgeous beadwork. Their work is exquisite and my photos do it no justice. Please go there when you have the opportunity. You can read more here:
Besides all the touristy places, parts of the island are of course, where the locals live, the folks who cater to all the visitors 365 days a year, and the expats who make Isla their home now. (I wish). Small bungalows, clothes-lines full of laundry out for the day, I slowly cruise past dozens of laughing children at lunch-time out on the street corner, grabbing food at the cart, by the senior housing place, several really nice looking houses and casas, a mental health clinic, the Veterinary Clinic and a new University that doesn’t look open quite yet. Very nice. Sweet planter boxes. And Vic’s car.
After getting back to the north part of the island, Carmen and I returned the cart and went to dinner at Coco’s which has become one of my go-to places on the beach. I’ve been a few times and sometimes the servers greet me by name. This time I tried the octopus tacos and they were excellent, octopus oh-so-tender and tasty, and the ice cold cerveza was much welcomed.
We’re not finished yet…