Browsing: Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres-February 3 2005, Arrival Day

February14

Pretty much every year since 2005, I have been on Isla at this time.  I’ve already come home from this year’s Isla time, so instead, I got out my travel diary and photos and have this (and many more) blog posts to share with you from my very first visit to Isla Mujeres. 

We enjoyed a fairly uneventful flight except when Sister #2 gets called back down to the check in counter because she had stated her birthday as a date that hadn’t occurred yet. She obviously needs a rest. I guess all three of us needed a rest. I was running on 2 hours of sleep. We agreed we were pooped but pumped!

We were seated in row 2 on a very big and full plane. The leather seats are exquisite turquoise. Row 2 should be an advantage for the immigration line but there was a whole section on the form that we had not filled out and so we waited for quite a while in line. But then green lights and we are on our way. Met by a driver from AGI holding a sign with our name. The 3 Sisters agree that it was worth every penny of the $38 US to see him there.

At the port, we had just missed the 11:30 am ferry so we had a couple of minutes to get our bearings. We met Judy who lives on Isla ½ of the year. Her husband is the artist who has pictures hanging and for sale at Casa O’s. She had been to Cancun to get some framing done and could not wait to get back to her island. LOVED the ferry trip – identified Garrafon and Lancheros from the water.

I love looking at myself and my sisters in this photo taken just seconds before our lives were forever changed by our precious Isla Mujeres!

We decided to get some groceries and have some lunch before cabbing it to Punta Sur. We consulted our trusty Map Chick map with recommendations of others and decided upon La Lomita. Wow-what a great way to start. Homemade Papa Fritos (French fries) that were perfect with the squeeze of provided lime. We also shared shrimp with garlic and polo frito (fried chicken) with “pink” rice and fuschia coloured onions.

The bed that I chose at Villas Punta Sur was pushed right up against this window so I could always feel the breeze and hear the sounds of the island.

We cracked our first cervezas while we unpacked and then headed to the pool for the late afternoon sun. Met Steve and Lorelai from Minnesota and a couple from Montreal who were also staying in the villa. While Sisters #2&3 lied in the hammocks under the palapa I went to explore our neighbourhood. Judy spotted me as she was watching the fading sun from her condo balcony and waving good-bye to the Garrafon day-trippers. I got just a bare glimpse of the sunset over the palm tops from our veranda.

Made us a light pasta supper. The wind was changing direction (from south to north) and kept blowing the gas flame out on our stove. We shared coffee on the veranda and chatted about things learned that day. For Sister#3: that even the word “EEZ LA” sounds like a happy sigh. For Sister #2: the amazement of travel-slept in our own beds and then had lunch at La Lomita! For me: that God made a colour I had never seen before-the colour of the water on the ferry crossing. We tried to read but I heard lights clicking off at about 7:30! The adventure awaits….

Kath’s quote: “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”-Federico Fellini

Isla Doorways, etc.

January26

Islanders love paint and I am enthralled byt the vibrancing of the colours that they choose.

Beauty in symmetry.

Purchasing advertising for a career, I was enchanted by this simple and yet effective manner to get their sales message across.

People who know me and love me-call me Kath.  I thought that Isla was speaking to me here, with a silent “k”.

Doesn’t this colour combination look like something out of the 50s?  Love it.

 

I am also fascinated by what seaspray and humidity does to wood and paint.

And even how the sea air shapes concrete.

 

I imagine if Ernest Hemingway ever came to Isla to fish, he would have stayed here.

I could live the rest of my days, in this simple place.

The additional touches of the palm trees are gorgeous.

You can see why I have a particular fondness for the doors of Isla because they are painted various hues from the sea (my favourite colour).

I also get a kick of focusing in really tight on something obscure-in this case the top ledge of the seawall.  I saw the image of a bird in the paint.

This chair could have been in Van Gogh’s bedroom masterpiece.

This one reminds me of our travels through Italy.

“Let’s go up the ladder to the roof, where we can see heaven much better….”

This door is coupled with my second favourite colour-lavender.

 

Hearts (=love in my language) are everywhere on Isla, even in their graffiti.

Departue Day and Highlight Recap

January25

Almost sadder than the conclusion of an Isla vacation, is the drawing to a close, the recounting of our time on Isla.  On these days I wake in anticipation of snuggling up in my fuzzy turquoise housecoat with a creamy coffee in my hand-made turquoise mug (seeing a theme here?) to remember and write and relive the time.  I do so as the sun is rising on the Canadian prairies and even though it is not the Isla sun that virtually assaults you on the island, it still holds the beauty and promise of a new day.  You may think that I live a life of leisure-affording the time to be spent in this way.  In the spring I will spend this time discovering the new things sprouting in my garden,  in the summer by beachcoming the shore at our cottage, in the fall-with morning rides on my vintage turquoise bicycle (now you’re thinking that this woman is obsessed!), but in winter, I am content to spend the hours from 7-9 am in this way. And then the business of my life begins.

But for now, onto departure day….

We have a number of Isla traditions on our final day.

I always get up in time for our last sunrise.

We always take sad face photos while we wait for the ferry.

 

I love this view from the ferry dock but when I arrive, I am always so excited, that I never pause long enough to get out my camera.  But in an effort to savour every last, sweet moment, I often capture this shot just before the ferry starts the journey across the bay. 

I always hold a landmark in my gaze, until it disappears compeletely.  This time it was our west facing window from our hotel.

I always interview my fellow travellers to find out their fiondest memories before they have a chance to fade:

Most Memorable Meals: Rooster for New Year’s Day breakfast, Da Luisa, Poc Chuc loncheria & Bastos Grill.

Favourite Part of the island: the east shore in front of Naciente, the seawall, the hammock on our balcony, Play Medina Luna, the shelling beach.

Most Fun Day: first day at the beach, wedding anniversary dinner, watching football at Jax, night out with D.

Best Shopping on Isla: Hortencia’s, the leather shop, Navy store,the other markets stalls by Hortencia’s.

Biggest Isla Surprize: the lovely weather, the banos, that no one got sick, how good the beach massage was, what a wonderful host Don Salome was, the spider at Soggy peso, not seeing Javi a single time.

Place with the prettiest turquoise water:  between the docks on Palya Sol, in our swimming pool, by the Poc Na hostel, on the ferry ride, by the seawall, at Garrafon.

 

These beautiful eyes seemed very concerned that we would be returning to Isla again.  And so for this and so many other reasons, we will.  Isla will always be a part of our lives. 

Kath’s quote: “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay home.”-James Michener

 

 

Sancochos & Angelo’s Revisited-Isla Mujeres Day 10

January23

Often when we get to the end of our time on Isla, we change up our routine.  By this time we had used up all of our coffee so instead of making a pot for a plunk on the balcony, we went and had our morning coffee right on the water at Bally Hoo.  They make a great cup of coffee and watching the morning comings and goings of the sport fishermen is good fun. 

We don’t make any purchases until our time is drawing to a close on Isla.  So, after trying politely to resist the vendors on Hidalgo, they are shocked when we enter their shops, instead of strolling by.  We make very few purchases right on Hidalgo but I always make a selection of authentic pottery to take home for our collection.

We prefer instead, to purchase from our favourite vendors like the fellow who is an Isla second generation shoemaker.   D got a gorgeous pair of handmade leather flip flops.

We buy as much as we can from Hortencia’s.  She greats us with hugs and chants of “ahh mi amiga” when we arrive on her sidewalk.  Not only are she and her daughter (or daughter-in-law) excellent seamstresses, they know how to measure and fit women with real bodies, ie me and my Sistas.  Hortencia works six days a week taking care of her family in this way.  We have often met her husband there, but we think that she is the primary wage earner in the family.   The photo above is of her gorgeous grandchildren.  They have fun posing for their picture and then immediately want you to show them the results.  I imagine that the little girl looks just like Hortencia when she was the same age.

Hortencia’s prices are exceptional and she custom makes whatever you choose.  You pick the fabric from her inventory and come back the next day to see the finished product.  I have even brought pareos that I have purchased in other countries for her to sew up for me.  She is an excellent business woman who showers her regular customers with little tokens of her appreciation.  Well it has worked on me-I would never shop anywhere else.  She also introduces us to her friends in surrounding kiosks, if she doesn’t have what you are looking for-like Mexican blankets and hammocks.  By doing so, she says that we are getting the best price.  I couldn’t really say if this is true, but I feel very well taken care of. 

We also realize that after walking by our favourite Liquado and popsicle shop many times a day, we haven’t actually made a purchase. There are so many real fruit juice options.  I finally decide on the pina one and D the pistachio.  Look at the nutrition and goodness packed into this treat.

In addition to stopping at the places that we haven’t enjoyed yet, we also go back to our favourite spots one last time including: Sancochos for lunch.

We love the cats and dogs of Isla.  Daughter #1 has had a visit and a snuggle with every single dog we have come across on this trip.  This cat thought that he had struck gold with this frayed strap from one of our day packs and he entertained us while we waited for our lunch.

I had a this single taco for $1.50. 

Sure beats a Mickey D’s value menu item for the same price!

Daughter #1 ordered the Chicken Mole Enchilada.

D loved this chorizo and potato calzone.

The Son tucked in to the Spaghetti Bolognese.

And our Newbie enjoyed her shrimp enchilada.

We don’t hang around on North Beach very often, but spent our last sunset there while the girls had a beach massage.

You can tell that I am the primary photographer of the family as I rarely appear in my own recounting of a trip.  When we realized, that once again this would be so, we set up the timer for a beach shot.  We always get the giggles when we try to do self-potraits because invariably, we have only half of someone’s face or the camera setter hasn’t gotten position into the shot.

 

Me and my husband of almost 28 years.  I’m not quite into tennis and Springstein as he is and he’s not into Josh Groban and beach-combing as I am but in every other way, we are the perfect fit.  He is a planner and I am the archivist.  When we travel, he takes of every single detail and I feel so loved and cared for.

While I packed away some beach things, he took this breezy one of me.

Our last Isla sunset with God making Himself evident to us, once again.

One of those surprizing Isla rains blew in just after sunset and so even though we wanted to return to Fredy’s for another of his killer margaritas, we took shelter in Lola Valentina’s for our last happy hour.

While there, we recounted our favourite meals and decided where we should return for our last tastes of the island.

We started at the Fisherman’s Co-op  where shared their amazing shrimp ceviche with ice cold beer.  Someone also dining there, was from our home town and she came over for a visit.  They have a home on Isla (and one on the same area of Lake Winnipeg where we have a little cottage).  A couple of years prior, she had showed us their Isla masterpiece and invited us for cocktails on the roof at sunset.  They don’t call us “Friendly Manitobans” for nothing….

Next stop, by popular vote was Angelo’s.

Our Newbie ordered this gorgeous grilled portobello mushroom surrounded by other veggies.

D re-ordered the artichoke, ham, Italian sausage pizza and it came “quatro” style this time.  That is, each quarter had its own topping, this is typical of the way that pizza is served along the Amalfi coast in Italy. I had the Fruite de Mare pasta again-I know I am boring but the dish was anything but. 

And whatever else was ordered, now escapes me.  But I did a pretty darn good job of remembering most of our trip details, didn’t I?

And so the last day of our precious stay on Isla had come to a close.

Kath’s quote: Food to a large extent is what holds a society together and eating is closely linked to deep spiritual experiences.” –Peter Farb & George Armelagos 

Roosters on New Year’s Day-Isla Mujeres Day 9

January20

Finding a place in Centro open for breakfast on New Year’s day proved to be a bit of a challenge.  But Rooster’s was accommodating people and we were overjoyed.  You could sense that tables were waiting a pretty long time and we saw just one server zooming around trying to take care of everybody.  So a gentleman, whom I assume was the owner, began greeting potential customers at the door, to explain to them that some key staff members had not shown up for their shift and that he would prefer that they came back another time.  We have spent most of our careers in the restaurant and food-service business and really respected the proprietor’s decision in how to handle this restaurant disaster.  As for us, we were on vacation, had all the time in the world and the only real plan for the day was for the guys to catch some football watching at Jax.  So when other people decided to leave, we stayed and we were so very glad that we did.

Some menu choices were very good like the D’s pancakes with eggs and chirizo sausage. 

Others dishes were exceptional like the light and lemony hollandaise sauce on the eggs Benedict

and the Creme Brulee French Toast which our Newbie ordered.  You could see her taking little baby slivers of her meal to stop and savour each bite and make the consumption of it last a very, very, long time.

I choose the Isla Omelette with portobella mushrooms and zucchini flowers.  In regions of Italy, cooking with zucchini flowers is quite common.  I have had the pleasure to taste them only once previously even though I do have a recipe waiting in the wings that I have been wanting to try.

The contrasts between the earthy, meaty portobello and the fresh and pungent zucchini flowers were really exquisite.  Unfortunately, the over-sized slices of onion which had not been sauteed for long enough were a bit of a distraction and upset my tummy that afternoon.  But no matter, I would choose the omelette again given the chance and looking forward to another opportunity to do so.

It turned out to be a very lazy day for us. Since the guys were occupied, I took  a solo walk on Playa Sol at sunset.  For sustenance I stopped at the “Corn Man’s” cart.  He prepares each cob to order by piercing a pointed stick into one end and asking if you would like chili spice and mayonnaise (since the mayo wasn’t refrigerated I let it pass).  He did  accommodate my request with a big squeeze of lime and coarse salt.  For a decadent touch, he then rolled it in queso for me.  When I had seen others walking with their cobs on previous days, I wondered why anyone would choose to have their corn cobbed rolled in lumpy sugar?  Ah it’s cheese not sugar, after all! 

 

These were the photos that I captured of the first sunset of the year 2012.

Many readers are sad to learn of the closure of Sergio’s Playa Sol-ourselves included.  I had walked by the empty stretch of sand on a number of occasions but the closure hadn’t really sunk in until I saw this sad sight:

Quite a blustery wind was coming off the water that night but since we prairie girls are a hardy bunch, we wrapped up in pashminas, poured Kahlua over ice and squeezed in big wedges of lime.  We took these, as well as coconut shrimp left overs down to the seawall to face the wind head on. 

Afterwards, we walked Hidalgo to pick up a couple of snacks and had left overs of pork and rice back at the hotel.  A lovely, lazy, do-nothing-at-all way to start the new year.

 Kath’s quote: “…in a well regulated kitchen nothing is ever wasted, but with careful preparation even the ‘rough ends’ of a beef steak may be made into a wholesome, tender and appetizing dish; that ‘stale bread’ may be used in the most delicious ‘desserts’ and ‘farcies,’ and ‘left-over’ food from the day before need not be thrown in the trash-box, but may be made into an endless variety of wholesome and nutrious dishes.” –The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book 1901

 

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