Saturday, May 28, 2016

Saturday Morning Beachcombing

Be sure to include beachcombing on your 'to do' list for Holbox.   Each morning, we'd pick a direction and start wandering. 

At low tide, you can walk around this point.  On our way back to town, we followed a path through the property on top the rocks. 

This cottage colony appears to be surrendering to the sea. 

Some beach areas consist of mounds of tiny little shells that crunch under your feet at the tide line.  In other zones the sand is smooth.  We saw lots of starfish at the shoreline, and I picked up some large cockles in one area.

The irony of the A La Playa sign is the waves appear to be lapping the foundation at high tide.

Another structure (a bano) eroded by the tide.
Nets left at the shoreline.  
Fishermen pulling in their nets.
Beach hieroglyphics?
Turnaround point.  The end!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Our Way to Holbox

I've noticed a lot of questions online about getting to Holbox.   Let me just start by saying we're impatient about getting to our destination. 

After a friend's experience of waiting hours for a second class bus to Chiquila at the downtown bus station in Cancun, then boarding the return bus from Chiquila and finding it was standing room only, we nixed that option.  We also didn't want to hassle with a rental car.  I thought about trying to find a reasonably priced shuttle to pick us up at the Ultramar ferry dock, but most of the companies mentioned on Trip Adviser (except for some shared shuttles from the Cancun airport to Holbox) seemed pricey! 

I'd also seen the Facebook advertisements for a boat to Holbox from Isla Mujeres, but we had prepaid reservations on the island for a set date and boat travel is dependent on the weather.  The boat option was also more than we wanted to spend and I'm prone to motion sickness.

Before I even got serious about the transportation search, I got lucky.  Pedro Venegas popped up one day on a Facebook internet page offering taxi rides to Chiquila (where you catch the Holbox ferry).  Yes!  After a few PM's, we were all set for a roundtrip.  The advantage of booking a cab in advance is knowing a little bit about the driver and also making sure the cab is in good condition so it doesn't break down on a longer ride.     
That's Pedro's cab in the photo above.  It's spotless inside and out and runs like a top!
When the day for our Holbox trip arrived, we boarded the Ultramar ferry for the ride from Isla Mujeres to the mainland.  We were up for a new adventure!  We met Pedro across the street from the Gran Puerto dock and were soon on our way.
If you're visiting Isla and interested in a cab to Chiquila/Holbox instead of bus or van, the easiest way to contact him is to PM him on this Facebook page.   The fare was $180 roundtrip for both of us, so more than a bus, but much less than the rates I've seen quoted on private shuttles.  That's also much less than the rate you'll be quoted at the taxi stand across the street from the Ultramar.  Pedro's a great guy and his English is good.  We chatted the entire way to and from and garnered lots of interesting info about the Yucatan and life in Mexico.
This map shows the rather convoluted route to Chiquila.  Pedro stopped several times along the way so we could get something to drink and stretch our legs.  In Kantunil Kin, a small town with Yucatan style architecture and dress, we walked around and snapped a few photos. 

The town was hoppin' this day with a market on the square! 

Several stands sold fruits and vegetables.

We weren't hungry enough to try the carnitas, but the food smelled amazing!

In Kantunil Kin, we saw more of these motorcycle trikes being used as taxis than cars.  In fact, I didn't see any regular cabs!  I love this concept!

Some taxi trikes used manpower!

Soon we arrived at the ferry in Chiquila.  We were 45 minutes away from the next Holbox ferry, so Pedro quickly started talking to captains of small boats in Spanish at the dock next door. We could leave immediately with two other people for a small amount more than the ferry would charge. 
A young couple from London on a daytrip from Cancun really wanted to take that option since it was already 1:15 p.m. and their time left for touring Holbox was waning.  The four of us hopped into the boat after the captain assured us the trip would not be rough and our luggage would not get wet.  He said the laguna was calm.  LOL 
These people were leaving at about the same time in a similar boat.
Soon we were on our way!  The young couple from London told us their tale of woe.  They'd been stopped in their rental car for a mordida on the way to Chiquila.  I quickly did the math and the mordida was equivalent to our one-way cab fare.  They were dreading the trip back and wondering if the same guy would tag them again.  The crossing seemed fairly quick (faster than the ferry). Craig and I had a good laugh because the captain's calm laguna claim felt more like a small craft warning day to me.  I focused on the horizon and didn't feed the fish. 
We arrived and walked directly over to a waiting golfcart taxi for the 30 peso bumpy road trip to our hotel.

Ta daaa!  Less than three hours after leaving the ferry dock, I was chillin' on the balcony sitting in a hammock!
After six relaxing nights, we were ready for the journey back.  Pedro had agreed to pick us up in Chiquila for the ride back to the Ultramar Gran Puerto ferry dock.
This is the ferry boat leaving Isla Holbox.  Accurate ferry schedules are weirdly difficult to obtain, even when the hotel clerk calls the dock that day.  The front desk was told the ferries were only running on the hour the day we left.  We arrived at the Holbox dock around 10:35 and thought we'd have a 25 minute wait.  The taxi driver told us to buy our tickets quickly as the next ferry was leaving immediately.  I saw two ticket booths, so I suspect there may be two different ferry operations?  I've been there, done that, and I still can't give you the scoop!
Whatever path you choose to take, vaya con Dios!  Todo bien!
P.S.  The water is battleship green during the crossing, but on the beach side of Holbox, it's a beautiful pale blue with a hint of green.