Sunday, February 27, 2011

Alexia and Geovanny's

Sometimes simple and cheap are just as good. For example, we ate at a Zagat-rated restaurant in Phoenix the other night and the simple Mexican food on the menu cost in the $15 to $20 range for enchilada and taco plates. I ordered the enchilada suizas expecting a tastey creamy fattening melt in your mouth dish. What I got was a dry baked pale version of the enchilada suizas I'd find anyplace on Isla Mujeres. I think they left off the sauce? Seriously!

One of our favorite breakfast places on Isla Mujeres is simple and extremely reasonable -- Alexia and Geovanny's at the market on Guerrero. I never take notes on pricing, but I'd estimate breakfast for two was in the 100 pesos range.

Everything's colorful, clean, bright, and crisp -- just like the sign!

Friendly Alexia & Geovanny staff.

Chicken Enchiladas Verde

Huevos Mexicana

The best things in life aren't necessarily free, but they don't always have to be served up by a gourmet chef in a Zagat rated restaurant!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Give Me a Sign!

You can tell most of Indio's business comes by boat. This old sign is hidden in the grass up by the road.

My favorite place to buy mixed fruit in the colonias.

Never eaten here, but everyone says it's good!

Sign at the Isla ferry bar.

Anyone ever seen this place open? It backs into the malecon south of the Rocamar.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Paz y Tranquilidad

I wandered through the Isla cemetery several times this trip. I have a fascination with Mexican cemeteries, so colorful in comparison to the marble and grey granite found in the United States. I also find the love and tending given to the graves of family and friends south of the border so touching. Paint, memorabilia, flowers, and items left purposefully to symbolize the deceased's life.

One trend I don't much care for is that the cemetery now seems to be on a map of sights to see on the island. They must hand out a list with a golfcart rental. One day after lunch I peeked in and immediately turned around and left. Lines of daytrippers crowded the cemetery snapping photos, trooping around trying to find Mundaca's grave, and yelling back and forth at friends. I know I go in and I take photos, but I try to maintain respect for the islanders and their loved ones. I creep in and out quietly because I feel like a trespasser when I pass through the gates. The crowd of daytrippers seemed over the top. They need one of those shushing angels right at the gate.

I'd never noticed this grave before. So fitting for a fisherman setting sail on his next journey.

This little angel seems to have attitude with the crossed arms and body language.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Street Scenes on Isla Mujeres

For some people, Isla Mujeres is all about the beach, while other longtime visitors I know never go there! My days are spent somewhere in between. I try to get in some beach time, even if it's hunting seaglass or sitting in a chair reading a book out on the water where I stay. And some days, I do trek into El Centro and spend a few hours on Playa Norte. I'm a sun lover, but I also love to people watch, whether it's at the beach under an umbrella, from a perch on the front porch, or from a chair in front of Ricardo's Fire Opal on Juarez. By the way, Ricardo told me on this trip that Frida Kahlo and Day of the Dead bolsas will be arriving soon, so go inside and check out his shop! His specialty, of course, is beautiful handmade beaded and fire opal jewelry, and he stocks other items made in Mexico.

Since I like watching everyday life in Mexico, I thought I'd post a few January photos from the streets of Isla Mujeres!

A woman sells fruit and vegetables from her corner table in the colonias.

The balloon man walking down Juarez.

The Aztecs (I think they're supposed to be Aztecs?) arriving on the mid-afternoon ferry.

The hamburguesa and Bimbo dog vendors await customers on Medina.

The line stretches down the street at this popular tortilleria on the weekends!

A friend and I watched this guy getting off the old Puerto Juarez ferry late one afternoon with this large tin container on his head. We speculated that it could even be an animal cage? Later in the week when I saw him with the lid off, I figured out he was selling pan door to door.

Monday, February 21, 2011


No, I'm not talking about the current state of my hair or the genealogy of my family. Yesterday, Craig and I made a startling discovery about Saby's pack. Her people! The evolution of this dog we've always assumed was some weird conglomeration of a Chow and shepherd!

I've told the story before about Saby. She's 13-years old now and we adopted her at the age of nine. The tale is that the second owners found her tied to a bench in front of a grocery store in Redmond, Washington. She'd been left. The woman who adopted her brought her water, and then watched her for hours, finally taking her home and leaving a note with her phone number if anyone returned to get her. Saby lived with those people off and on for the first eight years, then ended up semi-abandoned at our son's apartment. The apartment manager discovered she was being harbored in the no pets apartment and laid down the law. That's how she ended up at our house. Since the former owner still wasn't able to take her before we left for Arizona, she became a permanent fixture with us.

Everyone, including vets and groomers, has always speculated about her breeding. Most assume she's some kind of Chow/shepherd hybrid because of the curling tail, but she doesn't have the tell-tale black tongue of the Chow. So it's always been a mystery.

Well, until yesterday. Craig was thumbing through one of the latest issues of Time Magazine and saw a small piece about a new breed at the Westminster Dog Show -- the Icelandic Sheepdog. The magazine had a side silhouette sketch of the breed. Craig and I both gasped. It was her, from the long flat snout and the black highlighting (people comment on her eyeliner) around her eyes to the coloration and layers of her fur and elongated body on the short legs. Our little girl isn't the Heinz 57 -- she's an aging princess!

Craig with Saby in Port Townsend, WA when we were in the process of moving to Arizona. She wasn't very 'smiley' in this photo because we'd only had her for a few weeks and she was still depressed.

Same snout, sturdy short legs, tail curled over the back, and even pattern of her coat.

Saby has the exact coloration of this Icelandic Sheepdog with the reddish fur and white highlights on the paws, rearend, tail, chest, and face. In fact, we'd have to do a double take except this dog's eyes aren't quite as open and wide as Saby's. I think this dog needs at eye job so she can shine like Saby!

Craig looked online yesterday at videos of the dogs and descriptions of the breed's personality. The personality traits fit her to a tee. Prone to anxiety when left at home alone, expects to be included in all of the activities with her human family, friendly and loyal personality, etc....

She may be 90-something in human years and her fur may be fading, but she's still got that curl in her tail and can herd with the best of them!

We've seen another family walking Saby's 'twin' in the neighborhood and talked to them several times. Their dog is also a rescue, and they've puzzled over what breed/mix the dog could be. I guess now we have a story for them.
What makes me a little sad is that I now wonder about her original abandonment. Did someone really leave the little Icelandic princess at a grocery store in suburbia? I guess we'll never know.

Iceland. Hmmmmmm. I don't think we'll be rushing off to visit her homeland. I've heard it's a little chilly there!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Doo, Doo, Doo, Lookin' Out My Backdoor!

What's that little bell in our head that makes us get up at just the right time and walk to our backdoor so we can see something like this? I guess something was in alignment this morning and all is right with the world. I'd forgotten about the song until I saw this sunrise!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


While some changes on Isla Mujeres, like the repaving of Rueda Medina, seem just downright frustrating, the current administration needs credit for the beautification of formerly blighted areas. The area along the malecon on the Caribe is one side that's seen vast improvement in a short period of time.

In addition to the lovely new sculptures,

Someone's painting the seawall with brightly colored murals.

Love the new turtles by the Rocamar!

And more murals have popped up along the malecon on the temporary walls installed to block the rubble from the demolished Perla Caribe.

While all the malecon pillars/posts used to look like this one,

Now the posts have become welcome billboards to the citizens of the world! The United States!

Oh Canada!


All the sol worshippers of the world.

And I'm not sure about this one. I'm having a hard time translating flags to pillars. The Brits? Help me out!

When we first started visiting Isla Mujeres ten years ago, this area of the island, the backside of Juarez and the Navy Base, was blighted with rubble dating back to Hurricane Gilberto. I'm really impressed with the brightly colored murals and sculptures that now grace the malecon and the zocalo!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


One of my favorite new places to eat on Isla Mujeres is Barlito! And I have to say, Brad and Tiffany are now two of my favorite people on the island. The food's fantastic, and so are the chefs! Brad bakes bagels, cinnamon rolls, and bread, and Tiffany whips up a gourmet breakfast and lunch menu daily with fresh ingredients. Barlito should definitely be on everyone's short list of must try restaurants on the island!

Barlito has seating inside and out on the street. I'm not sure why, but the first time I looked for Barlito, I wandered up and down and couldn't find it. I was under the misconception that it was located on a corner of Medina up the block from Olivia's. Wrong! It is located on the corner of Hidalgo and Absalo where the small art gallery used to be.

One of Brad's cinnamon rolls. I heard about these from acquaintances before I set food in Barlito. Get there early in the morning because they're very popular! They are hands down the best cinnamon rolls on the island.

In addition, Brad's bagels are just as good! The first morning I visited, I ordered a bagel decorated with cream cheese and ripe tomatoes. Sorry, no picture! I consumed it too quickly!

Barlito's menu changes daily according to the fresh ingredients available on the island. Tiffany also offers samples of her gourmet concoctions to help stave off hunger pains while your order's being prepared. The above is a shot of her chilled chipotle carrot soup. Very tasty!

Oh my gosh! On another visit, I ordered the Greek chicken salad sandwich on Brad's homemade bread for lunch. I ate half of it before I remembered the camera, so excuse the messy photo. I'd be eating at Barlito everyday if I lived on Isla!

My biggest regret is that I didn't snag one of those Barlito brownies or cookies. Next trip!

Be sure and stop by and tell Brad and Tiffany hi for me when you're on the island. And pick up some breakfast or lunch!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What I Learned on My Isla Vacation.

Every trip to Isla, I pick up a few new tidbits. Here are five little pearls from this past trip.

1. There are bats on Isla. Yes, bats. I was so worried about bats in the palapa in Yelapa and never saw one. On Isla, where I've never heard of bats, we had bats in our palapa at Villa La Joya. I'd noticed something strange one evening at dusk while dozing in the hammock. Something fluttering about. Later that night, Craig asked me what a combination butterfly/bird type creature could be? Hmmmmmm. A bat! They really weren't that freaky.

2. Tim Pho is the Mayan word for laundry. When I cabbed into town in the evenings, I'd usually tell the driver to drop me at Tim Pho since traffic now goes into town on Juarez. One night a friendly driver with English explained that he was Mayan and the term Tim Pho is actually the Mayan term for a lavanderia. I'd always thought there was a man named Tim Pho on Isla!

3. Kayaking isn't for me! I resolved to kayak this trip. I envisioned us kayaking all over the island, stopping at Playa Lancheros for lunch . . . . Ha! That free kayak at Villa La Joya was not built for a person with lower back problems. After several excruciating minutes in that double kayak, I was perched up out of that damn seat begging Craig to get me back to shore as quickly as possible. Craig said most people who have their own kayaks have more ergonomically correct ones with back rests. Ouch ouch ouch.

4. We're most at home in that studio at Luna Turquesa. We've slept all around the island, but we always return there. The infinity view from the bed, the little windows above the sliders that make it safe to hear the sound of the crashing waves all night long, the front porch where we can sit and watch the island pass by, the rooftop with the incredible views of the sunset -- what's not to love!

5. I should have learned to use the new Flip video camera before the trip. I returned home with a motley collection of bad film clips. Here's a short clip I took from the ferry. I think a lot of my friends who haven't traveled to Isla Mujeres think those photos I take from the boat are color enhanced. Here's proof that the color of the water really is that shockingly beautiful shade of azul!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Some Island Shopping

I got a recorded call this morning reminding me to report to work on February 7 at 8 a.m. LOL! I love it when someone else screws up. Fortunately, I'd printed off my contract, so I knew the start date was February 14. I thought about calling personnel to check it out, but then decided not to be the nag who lets them know they're wrong. Sure enough, a half hour later the phone rang again with a new recorded message by the same man giving the same announcement with the correct date.

After the reminder that yes, I do have to go into a workplace next week, I decided I'd better do a little bit of winter sale shopping to make sure I have some work appropriate clothes. How I wish I could browse the wares on Hidalgo or Medina instead of dragging myself through the sale racks at Kohl's.

I've had island fever since I arrived home -- the worst case ever. The first few days I could hardly drag myself out of bed. No motivation to do anything. It could all wait until manana. And now that I'm awake from my little tropical sojourn, I'm struck with the nasty back problem that's making it difficult to accomplish any of the tasks I should have done last week. At least the suitcase isn't still in the middle of the bedroom floor!

If only I could snap my fingers and beam myself back to the island. I put off doing any shopping until the last few days on Isla and just never got to it. I went to Mexico and all I came home with was a Frida bolsa, a cheap pottery turtle, and a choker for my son. That's okay because all I really wanted was the Frida bolsa, but now I'm looking at photos remembering all the things I really did want to buy. Oh well. Next trip!

Here's a little shopping tour of Isla!

Colorful pottery skeletons.

Lots of pottery plates.

Maracas for the kids.

Silver jewelry and pewter plates for the more discerning.

Shells for those people who aren't obsessively toting home pounds of broken glass!

Very cool artistic tops.

Many hats to choose from

Including these Bicentenario sombreros.

And this guy picked the biggest hat of all! More bang for the buck (peso)!

Blankets, throws, and tablecloths!

Even bad and good news.

Colorful dresses!

Tiny pouches and purses.

And serapes and beach bags.

As I was browsing and taking photos, I noticed two drunk American couples hassling the vendors on Hidalgo. By the time I got to the leather shop on the side street, there they were again. Ugh. One of the women offered 40 pesos to the shopkeeper for a pair of heavy leather sandals. He explained politely that he wasn't selling trinkets -- he was selling shoes. The slurred abuse continued until one of the drunk husbands noticed me taking photos. He decided he wanted to use my camera to take my picture and starting chasing me down the street. I felt like I'd been caught in the filming of Jackass's Daytripper episode. Geez. What these shopkeepers must encounter on a daily basis!