Sunday, July 31, 2011

Casa Luna Turquesa

I always tiptoe around where we stay on Isla, especially while we're there. It's mostly for privacy and security reasons, but there's also that selfish part of me that wants my favorite place to be a secret so it will always be available for me when I want to stay. That cat's obviously out of the bag because I've been told this secret place is one of the most popular rentals on the island, so it's about time I posted a complete review on this blog!

The place we keep returning to year after year on Isla Mujeres is Casa Luna Turquesa! It's a lovely home located towards the south end of the airport strip in an area populated by pricey Caribbean front residential homes.

I first noticed the house on one of my round the island bike rides back in November 2004. It was under construction at the time, but I wondered if it would come available on the rental market? We'd stayed at Casa del Sol the spring of 2004, so Craig and I both were hooked on staying oceanfront away from the hotels in El Centro on a quiet beach. I'd also discovered seaglass in 2004 and knew the airport strip beaches were chockful of it.

Sure enough, I eagerly watched the local booking sites and Casa Luna Turquesa popped up as a vacation rental on Isla Beckons in 2005. I quickly decided to book one of the studios for a month in October/November 2005. Unfortunately, Wilma struck two days before my trip, wiping out my plans for a month of bliss. I'd rented through Isla Beckons and the house was not damaged by the hurricane, so the owners graciously rescheduled my rental to April 2006 with no extra charge for high season rates.

That month at the Luna Turquesa upper studio in April 2006 was sheer heaven. We broadened our horizons from El Centro to the colonias, shopping at the little tiendas, eating tacos at the balllpark, and taking our morning walks out the Caribe side and cutting back through the colonias. We spent our early mornings on the upstairs porch eating breakfast while we watched the island pass by on the street. Later, we walked into town for beach time on Playa Norte, then returned to sit by the pool in the afternoons. The water in front of the house was flat enough for Craig to snorkel most days. Having stayed there for a full month, I can tell you the pool was always clean, the maids were there twice weekly to insure clean linens, supplies, and spotless rooms, and the property manager dropped by frequently to make sure everything was good and ask if we needed anything. We were very sad to leave at the end of our month.

One of the little secrets that keeps us returning to Luna Turquesa year after year are the narrow sliding windows high above the sliders in the upstairs studios. The narrow windows can safely be left open (there are also rods in all the tracks of every slider to ensure safety) to hear the crashing waves! I feel perfectly safe staying at Luna Turquesa even if I'm by myself and have never had any security issue.

Luna Turquesa's even gotten better over the years. What amazes me is that it's so well maintained. Everything still looks new! We've stayed in a few oceanfront properties that easily look 10 years old after a couple of years from the corrosion and wear and tear, so I realize the amount of work it must take to maintain that high level of consistency! Wireless internet and DVD players have also been added to the upstairs studios for extra entertainment options.

We recently stayed in the downstairs in June and it's equally wonderful! All the living areas in the downstairs have beautiful views of the blue Caribe, and both bedrooms are ensuite with their own private bathrooms and huge closets. In addition, the downstairs has satellite television, which was a nice surprise since it carried the Seattle stations I'd been missing since we moved away five years ago.

The area around the location has also blossomed with some good restaurants in the colonias within walking distance. Da Luisa is just two doors to the south up top Casa Ixchel. John Cain was playing Saturday Happy Hour there in June. I also noticed morning yoga classes at Casa Ixchel under their palapa while we were eating breakfast at Da Luisa. The Mango, which serves excellent breakfast, lunch and dinner, is only about a 15 minute walk to the south. Monchi's, located just south of the Mango, has good Mexican food. The cut street to the bayside of the island is just south of Luna Turquesa in the colonias, so Seso Loco, Chuk Kay, and The Soggy Peso are also within walking distance. El Centro's only about a 20 minute walk, and it's also easy to hail a cab in front of the house. At the time of our last trip, we paid about 20 pesos to El Centro and also the supermercado and Basto's in La Gloria. Taxi rates have risen since our trip, and I think the going rate is now 25 pesos.

Here's a link to Casa Luna Turquesa on VRBO. The pictures below are mostly of the exterior because the interior photos on all the booking websites for the house are totally accurate. What's pictured there is exactly what the house looks like to date! And last time I looked on the booking sites, there's a 15% low season discount in place!

The upstairs porch -- our favorite spot to watch the island pass by in the mornings and evenings!

The sunset view from the rooftop out over the bay.

Craig lounging in the pool in June. If you're staying on Isla Mujeres in the hot summer months, the Caribe side is the place to be! Afternoons spent dipping in and out of the pool with the nice breeze feel at least 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the heat in El Centro.

Another gorgeous summer sunset from the rooftop!

In addition to listening to the crashing waves, waking to the sunrise every morning is another special perk!

View from the pool!

The infinity view from the upstairs studios. It's fun to watch fishing boats and the occasional cruise ship pass by.

Another sunrise!

View from the balcony to the beach in front.

The upstairs south studio. Notice those narrow little sliders that can be opened for ventilation and the sound of the waves! I apologize because the bed's a little rumpled and my interior photos are not as good as those on their websites.

Anyway, that's my little secret revealed in its totality. We've stayed all round the island in accommodations from semi-rustic to the higher end places on Playa Norte, but we keep returning to Casa Luna Turquesa for its consistent serenity and beauty.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Friday Update

It's 8 a.m. and 92 degrees. I'd rather be floating on Playa Norte!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Real Fishermen . . .

fish in their underwear?

Okay, this is one of those photos where you have to look carefully. I played like I was taking a picture of a pelican, but actually -- the subject is in the panga.

Craig and I noticed a strange trend from our table at Bally Hoo one day. Some fishermen evidently prefer to fish in their tighty whities! We witnessed two boats arriving in a short period of time with a fisherman in his B.V.D.'s. I didn't photograph the other guy because he was wearing the equivalent of black Calvin's and quite proud of the package. (Craig thought he was storing his fishing tackle in there!)

Could it be a matter of las diferencias culturales? Maybe they want to feel free on the sea? Or maybe they just don't want to mess up a clean pair of pants!

Craig accused me of wanting to lunch at Bally Hoo everyday. Hmmmmm. I did sample quite a bit of their menu! : )

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rowdy Ate Larry!

I should just call this post all words Wednesday. I was unable to obtain any photos of the following events, and as Martha would say -- it's a good thing!

Yesterday I was floating in the pool on my back having an almost Zen moment. The sky was vivid blue, the water was warm, and dragonflies were dipping in and out for drinks. All this while I was listening to Dave Matthews singing End of the World.

I heard a loud squawk and looked up on the wall. There was Rowdy, the big roadrunner who likes to prance up and down! He's a comical character and seems to have no fear of humans. How cute!

I think Rowdy likes to show off. If I'm in the pool mid-morning, he often appears and will just hang out. I guess he's as curious about me as I am about him. Suddenly, I realized he had something large hanging out of his beak. At first I thought it was a mouthful of dried palm fronds to feather a nest, but I looked again and oh my God! It finally hit me. It was Larry!

Larry's the large lizard who races up and down the wall teasing Saby. He's distinctive because he's so much bigger than all the other lizards in the yard. If we're in the pool, he's tall enough that we can see him walking across the paver patio.

My Zen moment ended. I yelled and splashed at Rowdy, hoping I'd startle him into dropping Larry. Rowdy just stood and smirked. More than nauseated, I screamed get the hell out of here, and Rowdy finally went down the other side of the wall into the park. Yuck!

Poor Larry. I'm not sure if he was playing dead by freezing, or if the roadrunner had already done the dirty deed. Less than a minute later, Rowdy popped back up on top the wall right in front of me with Larry's appendages still hanging out of his mouth. I was flabbergasted. Rowdy stood and stared at me again, like a pet cat with a mouse present. Once again I yelled at him and he did the little acrobat act walking towards me with Larry's legs sticking out. I'm hoping the neighbor behind wasn't staring out her second story bathroom window at the middle-aged nut job in the pool in back screaming and flailing in her pool. Oh well! Rowdy pulled his little act a third time before he finally disappeared.

Craig came out ten minutes after Rowdy's final act. I'm sure he thought it was another one of my tall tales, but he did say a roadrunner can take on a rattlesnake. Maybe that's just another one of his tall tales!

Speaking of Craig, last night he tried to lure me into breakfast at the neighborhood grocery store by tying it into our 6 a.m. bike ride. Actually, I call the place the neighborhood Quik Trip because anything that's not a sale item is two dollars higher than the same item at any other grocery store. Seriously, I'm not kidding! He's been eyeing their cheap breakfast offerings since the day he retired -- specifically the scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, and biscuit meal for $2.59. He made the assumption that it would be good since the store has that expensive allure. He even promised me a cream-filled coconut donut if I'd accompany him.

As appealing as that pastry treat offer was, I insisted on taking our normal five mile bike ride in advance since the store's only a mile away. He was still craving that fabulous breakfast deal afterwards, so we hopped in the car. I decided on a Starbuck's light frappe sans donut while Craig lined up for the $2.59 special. We sat down at a table in the bakery and he grabbed a big plastic forkful of the powdery scrambled eggs.

I took one glance at his feast and thought it looked like a bad breakfast buffet at the Comfort Inn. Sure enough. Craig was relieved I didn't have my camera to record the event. LOL! I truly think he was channeling Breakfast at Larry's from our Bellevue, Washington years. Larry's is a big gourmet box type supermarket that has great deli meals -- kind of like Whole Foods (Whole Paycheck), just not as organic.

Anyway, I won't be hearing about Breakfast at Basha's again. He even spit out the biscuit!

Too bad Rowdy didn't spit out Larry!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Roadtrips and Clotheslines

We're mulling a little roadtrip to Bisbee, Arizona next week. It's an old mining town close to the Mexican border about three hours southeast of Phoenix. The town has lots of artsy stores, good restaurants, cooler temps, hills to walk, and spectacular monsoonal evening storms. While looking over our lodging options, I found The Shady Dell trailer court. Take a gander at that link! I almost had myself convinced (what a blog post that would make!) until I realized the bathroom situation. Showers and toilets are next door. That's the reason I don't do camping. I HATE the whole communal bathroom thing. I think I'll plan a trip to Dot's Diner , the onsite restaurant, so I can get some photos of the trailer court! I wish I was slightly more adventurous because I can envision myself as the star in my very own trailer trash postcards. Just kidding!

Looking at this website brought back memories of a friend's aunt's old Airstream parked in her parent's backyard. If only we'd known how cool those would end up being!

Those backyard memories then made me think of a good clothesline tale. One time my family returned from a long two week vacation to California late on a Sunday. Since the next day was the start of the work week, my mom immediately started in on laundry. Much to her horror after the first load of clothes, she discovered the Maytag dryer was on the fritz. So at midnight, she was out hanging clothes with me handing her clothespins. The next morning, she learned every bra she owned had been stolen from the clothesline. Those things just didn't happen in Oswego, Kansas! The police were called in and blamed it on the gypsies, camped out at the Little Park about a half mile down the road. (They arrived in late July every year for the county fair and usually stayed until the end of the summer. And lots of items left outside were known to walk away in that time frame.) My father, known for his joking nature, immediately went to town and filed an insurance claim for the stolen goods (laughing all the way). The insurance man had a desk in the local bank, so two hours later my mother was the butt of numerous jokes circulating around town. As far as I know, no gypsies were ever frisked and my mother's bras were never recovered. But my dad did collect on the insurance!

And all this brings me back to my fetish with taking photos of clotheslines. Here's another from our June trip to Isla.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Blooms

Nothing much going on here in this typically hot July except for those two mammoth haboobs. This weekend was billed as a huge rain event, but nada nada nada. Last night the hot wind blew sideways and lightning danced across the sky, but the small amount of blowing drops wasn't even enough to leave a trace of damp in the pavers. My blooms could use some rain to rinse off the dust. Until we hit the road again, I'll be posting the random leftovers from our June Isla trip. Here's a photo of a pink hibicus outside a small tienda on Juarez.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lo Siento

Sorry about that dang slideshow I posted yesterday! Evidently, the thing works on Facebook, but not here. Actually, I was able to see it sporadically, but would then get a plain black screen at other times. Go figure!

Speaking of Facebook, sometimes a mother sees things on there that make her quake! I tuned into my son's wall yesterday because he had posted photos of his recent trip to Denmark. Those were nice, but I needed another pill when I saw these!

Seriously, this is the kid who doesn't even like to fly in an airplane! A mother turns her back for two seconds and he's hanging out of a hot air balloon over Colorado!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Usual Suspects

One of the repeated themes in the Isla news lately seems to be complaints from store owners, taxi drivers, tour operators, etc... about other people stealing their customers. It's a common refrain since business has been slow. Several times I've read demands from store owners wanting the local government to crack down on beach vendors because they claim it's ruining the business in their shops. Many of the same people have been walking the beach for the 10 years we've been visiting Isla, so I can't imagine what they'd do if their livelihood was taken away. I'm guessing nothing will come of all the complaints, so not to worry. I'm betting the same familiar faces will still be there on our next trip!

It doesn't matter if you're sitting here

or sitting there, the same people pass daily.

Basket Man carries the heaviest load. They're so beautiful, but not very practical for those traveling by plane.

I love the way these girls layer their Guatemalan handicrafts about their bodies to display their wares.

Pareos anyone?

A few trips I've missed Maria, but she was back on the beach in June.

A song for you today?

I'm not sure I'd recognize this woman without the pareo draped over her head.

This little boy's not selling anything. He just provided constant entertainment with his antics. His favorite game was having mom bury him in the sand.

Till we meet again!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Weird Words That Start With H

2011 looks like it may turn out to be the Summer of the Haboob here in Phoenix. We were sitting at a friend's house out in Pebblecreek last night having dinner when we saw an old old man across the street stumble out of his house in a pair of baggy suit pants pulled up just below his chest with no shirt. He looked around for quite awhile, up and down the street, and all that time the dinner party was practically rolling on the floor. I can't really explain why. He looked like a stereotypical retirement community cartoon character. I also think it was comic relief because the crystal ball was in front of us and God forbid we were looking at our future!

From our position, we noticed some wind and dirt, but didn't realize the extent of it. On the way back into Phoenix on I-10, we quickly realized we'd missed a big event from the amount of dirt still in the atmosphere. The old man must have heard about the gigantic haboob on the news and emerged from his house to try and get a glimpse of it! The above is a news photo taken from Sky Harbor Airport.

In regards to weird words that start with an h, we ran into another one last week on our trip to Mount Lemon. Who knew there are hoodoos! Actually, I did know that because we've lived and traveled in mountain areas, but it's a cool word. And, there were lots of hoodoos on the drive up to the 8000 foot top of Mount Lemon!

Craig and I played Name that Hoodoo! Can you spot the seated Mama Bear in her hat in the photo below? And I think that's Bullwinkle in the next seat over!

Mr. Platypus?

Hoodoos are fun, but I am so over haboobs for this year! I'm not sure what the haboob looked like out here in our end of town, but the pool was full of debri when we got home. It's going to be another fun cleanup day!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Homing Radar

Craig says I was born with built in homing radar for strange rangers and antiques. On our way through Tucson on Thursday, I suddenly looked up and yelled Turn here! I'd spotted two antique stores just off the main thoroughfare that led us from the interstate to the Catalina Highway (which took us to that mountain). I love these little unplanned stops!

Seashells! There was a huge display at the front of the store on an old pine sideboard, but I didn't have the nerve to line up a photo in front of the owners. Some dealers get paranoid that other dealers are there to steal their display ideas.

The first store, Antiques Etc., had an entire room of religious artifacts that appeared to be from old missions. How does that work? Does an old mission just go out of business and have a liquidation sale? Don't know, but this Jack Baptist is just mesmerized by those Catholic antiquities!

The second store had a large outdoor area. I love love love a big pile of garden junk! I found some little vintage metal stakes for labeling plants, a colorful old book on tropical fish, and a little wooden starch box with advertising.

Back to my original subject -- that built in homing device! I also honed in on a pack of strange rangers on this trip. Or they honed in on me? Not sure.

They were seated next to us at lunch on the mountain deck. A family of mom, pop, and two adultish boys all styled in some form of Goth wear. All making very loud conversation so everyone in the restaurant could eavesdrop. The woman kept worrying about those little birds flying around that feeder in front of their table. Uhhhh -- hummingbirds? Actually, with her dark burgundy plume of hair on top her head, maybe she was right to be concerned? At one point, they all turned cameras on each other in unison and played like they were filming each other eating. (And yes, some of their mouths were gaping open as they chewed.) Then they all roared with laughter. The father kept saying he wouldn't want to be in one of those little chairs across the road. Uhhhh -- that's a ski lift? Craig and I were both mesmerized by the impromptu Saturday Night Live skit!

Oh just stop Becky! I haven't had my pill today. I get so mean when I haven't had my pill!