Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Isla Mujeres June 2010

2010 marked the first time we traveled to Isla Mujeres during the summer months.  Since Craig and I were both working, the winter and spring months were off the list for travel.  That left summer as our first opportunity for a getaway.  When we lived in Seattle, I thought only crazy people booked vacations on Isla Mujeres in the summer months.  Our summers in the Northwest were beautiful, so why would someone want to travel down there in hurricane season with the high humidity and insufferable heat?

Then we moved to Phoenix.  Everyone says it's a dry heat, but once the temps are above 110 degrees, it's a blast furnace.  June can be one of the worst months with  temps sometimes rising into the 115 to 120 degree range, so Isla Mujeres in the summer now sounds like bliss!

The last week in June 2010, I went first as the advance team.  I booked a standard room at Ixchel for the first three nights and spent a few relaxing days lounging on Playa Norte, hunting seaglass, eating at my favorite restaurants, and wandering town taking photos before Craig arrived.

Sunset on Playa Norte.

The enchilada suizas at La Lomita.  And no, I didn't eat the whole plate! 

This was the trip where Mr. Got Crack walked up and down Playa Norte with a baby everyday, leaving a trail of women clutching their cameras and giggling.

The morning before Craig arrived, I packed and moved to our home for the first week -- Deep Blue Condos.  We really enjoyed staying there and would love to return.  Last year when I tried to contact someone about a monthly rental, the number didn't work and I couldn't find any info online.  Wonder if they still rent apartments? 

The drop dead views from the rooftop pool.

Gorgeous sunset view from the rooftop.


The living room at Deep Blue.

Craig swam with the whale sharks that trip. 

We rented a golfcart for the week we were at Deep Blue and had a blast touring the island. 

After our week at Deep Blue, we moved to Luna Turquesa for the rest of our stay.  Here's Craig pampering our pals Odd and Missy.  Craig spent a few more days on the island, then had to return to Phoenix for work.  I hung on for five more nights and flew back to Phoenix in mid-July.

Here's a slideshow of my 2010 Isla photos.

Isla Mujeres 2010 - free slideshow maker

Now, back to packing for our next trip to Isla!  This week's been a little stressful.  Michael arrives home tomorrow.  After a mountain bike accident in Colorado on Memorial Day, he'll be spending some time here healing his broken clavicle.  The silver lining is that he's now available to dogsit  Saby while we're in Mexico.  She'll be happy to stay at home instead of going to Dog Bone Ranch.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The 2009 Slideshow

I assumed all was lost when my laptop crashed and burned awhile back, but I'm finding all sorts of stuff out there in the clouds! Here's the slideshow I created after I returned home from our October/November 2009 trip -- a followup to yesterday's post.

Monday, May 28, 2012

2009: From Livin' Like a Rock Star to a Tormenta

After hearing we were thinking about abandoning Isla Mujeres for Kauai in the fall of 2009, a friend decided an intervention was needed. 

It didn't really take much of an arm twist.  So in late October, we ended up at Ixchel in the luxurious 709 penthouse, livin' like rock stars!

View from the breakfast table.

 The beach below.

We had loads of fun that week hunting seaglass, taking photos, and eating our favorite foods.


 Exploring the market.

The weather was extremely humid that week with frequent downpours, but blue skies still prevailed and we divided our time between the beach, exploring the island, and watching the sunsets from the balcony.

After our week at Ixchel, we said goodbye and moved to the Rocamar.  As usual, Craig needed to return home for work, and I planned on staying an extra week.

 We traded the stunning sunset views for glorious sunrises.

Craig's last morning, we headed to the French Bistro for breakfast before he left on the noon ferry for the long ride home.

Soon after Craig departed, the rain started.  As he likes to remind me, I always stay too long at the party. There weren't a lot of sunrises in the days after Craig returned home.  The sky was dumping buckets.  One evening when I just happened to find an internet signal, I noticed an AOL headline about a hurricane.  I quickly clicked on my NOAA link and there it was.  A tropical storm down by Honduras.  Oh well.  Not to worry because it's November!  I'd never heard of a November hurricane.

The storm was scheduled to pass Isla Mujeres the next Tuesday.  Since I was leaving on Sunday morning, not to worry.  I spent the next few days dodging the torrential downpours.  By the time I realized the storm had sped up to a Sunday landfall with Isla in the crosshairs, it was Saturday morning.  Oops.

I figured my plane would not land in Cancun on Sunday morning, so if I left on the ferry, I could end up stranded in Cancun where I had no one to help in case it did turn out to be a big deal.  At least on the island, I had friends.  So I stocked up on Bimbo products and carried on.

Let's just say I was clueless and semi-delusional.  I continued my stay at the Rocamar, figuring I'd move on Sunday morning to a hotel away from the water  when the hurricane got close. Ha ha.  By Saturday evening, I realized the error of my ways.  The wind was howling and shaking the building, and the rain was driving into the sliders like nothing I'd ever heard.  The desk clerk was shocked to find me still in the hotel at 10:00 p.m.  Everyone else had left earlier in the day (while I was hanging with friends getting hurricane updates on Hidalgo).  It was me, myself, and I since everyone else had moved out.

It was a long and stormy night with no communication since I had no television or internet.  I had no clue what was happening with no access to a weather channel.  And I couldn't phone a friend. Believe me, I tried calling Craig but my cell signal was gone.  At dawn, the ocean looked like this from my balcony.

The hotel staff soon rescued me and trucked me over to Media Luna where there were people!  I now had people and it felt so much better!

Soon, the eye of Hurricane Ida passed and all was well on Isla Mujeres.  Look at this sunset after the storm!

With the exception of some beach erosion, high water, and a little damage to the Avalon bridge, Isla was unscathed.

I rebooked my return flight for Wednesday, allowing myself two extra days to enjoy the sun I'd missed in the last week of my trip.  The airline even waved the rebooking fee when I was able to prove the ferry didn't run on Sunday, so there was no way to make my flight in Cancun.  My plane did land at CUN right at the time the Cat 2 hurricane was passing, and took off for Phoenix without me about an hour late.  So much for being able to predict what airlines will do in a storm.

I marked Category Two Hurricane off the bucket list.  Been there, done that, and I think I'll be smarter the next time?

For the longer tale of the Hurricane Virgin, click on the link.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Crying Uncle -- May 2008!

Sometimes Paradise goes awry, and everything about our May 2008 trip was not hunky dory.

On Day 1 of Week 2, we bid farewell to the friendly caretaker at Mar y Sol and headed to our rental for the second week.  I'll just cut to the chase.  Our new rental was not as pictured online.  The decor appeared to be a mismatched jumble of worn leftovers, and what was that smell?  The dipping pool had a milky appearance with scum floating on top. Then there was the broken television, the window with no shades looking directly into the open window of a squatter's shack, the musty wardrobe missing one of the plywood doors, the gray and black camouflage curtains and see through blinds, and the note on the A/C to never set it below a number that translated to hot and muggy.  And the smelly bedding and pillows.

The room filled me with a sense of dread.  If I recall correctly, Craig turned to me and said, "Becky, this time you've gone too cheap."  He's rarely unhappy with lodging and can stay at the Sleep Inn, but he hated it.  Long story short, after a sleepless night that involved a huge wolf spider on the wall over my side of the bed, someone or something on the balcony trying the slider and knocking a large conch shell off a railing, and road noise and vibration that felt like our bed was in the middle of the street out front, we were both fried.  There was nothing relaxing about the location. And the biggest negative was my asthmatic reaction to something in that room.  And I'd never had problems with asthma before!  I sat up all night wheezing, struggling to breathe.  By 6 a.m., we unanimously voted to forfeit the paid nights and get out.  We wanted to salvage our last six days and nights in paradise.

Since we were up all night anyway, we showered, repacked the bags so we could leave quickly when we returned, and headed to El Centro before 7 a.m. to start hunting for a place to sleep for the remaining 6 days and nights on Isla.  After checking a couple of hotels, we decided our best bet was to contact Isla Beckons to see if our favorite rental had an opening.  I found an internet cafe and immediately started emailing.  Long story short, an hour later I was on the phone with Gwen from Isla Beckons and she quickly arranged for us to meet Marcela at Luna Turquesa in an hour.  Plop plop fizz fizz -- what a relief!  Craig took care of informing the manager we'd be leaving that day and she could keep the rest of the prepaid rent.  We were soon starting over in our favorite top floor studio at Luna Turquesa.

We quickly fell into the rhythm of life at our favorite spot on the island.  

Waking with the sunrise.

Watching Missy and Oddy from our balcony.  Back then, I'm not sure they knew their names were Missy and Odd, but they were the cute beach dogs that played and rolled in the ground cover together at dawn.  We look forward to seeing them again in a few weeks. 

We collected seaglass and shells on the beach out front and sorted the collection on the balcony table.

And spent mornings watching the island pass by from our perch on the upstairs balcony.  This man's pulling a furniture delivery on a cart.

 Since we were closer to El Centro, we spent more time at the beach.

 Love this boat.

 In this photo, you can tell Playa Norte was rebuilding sand in front of Maria del Mar.

The wooden piers seemed to be working.

Cute gate on Juarez.

 The Tweety Bird house.

I managed to snap a photo of the skeletons at the paper maiche shop on Hidalgo without getting caught.

The median in front of the Navy base on Medina had been improved a bit with landscaping and a new monument.

We used the malecon for a cooler walk into town from the airport strip.


Playa Norte down by Maria del Mar.

Political signage.

 Alicia, the new mayor during that time frame.

A May sunset from Bally Hoo.

 Wall sculpture on Sac Bajo.


His cousin propped up behind the Pemex station. 

Mural at Mininos.


 Sunset on Medina.

I'd be lying if I told you this was our favorite trip to Isla Mujeres.  We returned home a bit disenchanted with the island and actually vowed to try another tropical destination the next trip.  The island seemed very crowded in May 2008 with traffic jams on Medina and the airport strip.  And the taxi drivers just beat us down during our stay at Mar y Sol.  50 pesos from Sac Bajo road in front of the Cristalmar to Mar y Sol.  Really?  We got disgusted that trip and rode the bus when it was convenient. That laid back vibe that had lured us back to the island year after year seemed to be evaporating.

Looking back on it now, I realize that paradise is a state of mind.  2008 was an extremely stressful year in our lives, and sometimes you can't escape your problems by changing locations.  Your baggage travels with you. 

Wherever you go, there you are.  (Deep thoughts by Beck.)