Monday, September 1, 2008

Isla Mujeres Honeymoon Trip, August 2004

DAY ONE – Jana - party of two…your island is ready. I had been anticipating this trip all my life. Sure, I had been to Isla before. Five times before and twice with Gerald. But this was different. This was our honeymoon. After the wedding, after all of the planning, the stressing, the family, the lists, the overwhelmingness….Isla! The only thing I wanted to plan was where to eat each day. The only person I wanted to see was Gerald. The prospect of relaxing on warm white sands with nothing to do was heaven. We boarded the plane, shot into the sky, and headed South, gazing into each other’s eyes. It was so cool to finally be married. For Gerald to finally be my husband. We could be together after nearly three years of a long distance relationship. I heard a whimpering sound over the drone of the plane’s engines. Wondering if my groom was choked up with emotion, I looked over. Oh my gawd! It’s wasn’t Gerald at all, but a two year old boy across the aisle. The whimpering got louder…and turned to screaming. And it went on. And on. And on. Until about ten minutes before we landed when he finally fell asleep. Why is it that God is always throwing something at me on the plane to make me appreciate vacation even a little more? Last year it was the obnoxious frat boys sitting behind us; and this year the screaming kid. We landed in Cancun, met our driver and got the hell out of there as fast as we could. The new ferry dock was pleasant and we watched a couple of local boys playing in the water and on the rocks while we waited for our ferry. As we arrived on the island I felt it. It ‘s always the same. I know it’s coming, but I never am fully prepared for it. It’s like an immense wave of comfort and peace washes over me. My shoulders relax, I can’t stop smiling, my hair gets wavy. It’s one of the happiest feelings in the world. I'm home. We took a quick cab to Hotel Playa Media Luna as we soaked up the first sights and sounds of our island in a year. We got to our hotel and noticed some changes. The beautiful ornate gates were gone and were placed with glass doors. There was a pretty waterfall on the wall outside the doors, and new steps. The old sign was gone (with the picture of the moon that looks like the tattoo on my ankle) and the whole building was painted a sand color instead of the sun washed pastels. We went to our room and unpacked. Our air conditioner was not cooling well. Not good in August…it was bloody HOT! We told the gentleman at the front desk about our AC on the way out and headed to Jax for mango margaritas. We enjoyed two margaritas each and a chicken sandwich and mixed ceviche, all of which was wonderful. We sat upstairs where a surprisingly cool breeze poured over us and enjoyed our feast unhurried, adapting to the languid rhythm that defines Isla and soothes the soul. We were the only people in the place. After the refreshing lunch and drinks we stopped by the bank and exchanged money. I always feel richer with pesos. Then we made our way back to the hotel for a cool dip in the pool. It felt so good we stayed forever and then went back to our room. We were pleasantly surprised to find that they had installed a brand new AC unit and our room was chilly and a rest seemed in order. When we woke up, dinner was on our minds. We strolled downtown, taking in the sights and smells and decided on pizza at Rolandi’s.

So relaxed that I don't care what my hair looks like! LOL We each had shrimp pizza, I had sangria and Gerald had a pina colada. If you’ve never had the sangria that they make on Isla, it’s wonderful. It’s made with a fizzy limeade (limonada?) that is so refreshing. With bellies full and bodies relaxed, we headed back to Media Luna to fall into a peaceful sleep with giant waves courtesy of Hurricane Charley serving as a lullaby. DAY TWO- Beaches, Bond and Crabs It was a beautiful Isla sunrise. Well..at least that’s what they told me. Gerald was sweet enough to slip out of the room when he woke up early. I don’t know if he was really just letting me sleep in, or if he wanted to spend some quality time with our new digital camera.

Either way I was thankful for the extra z’s. I woke up when he brought me a cup of coffee. We dressed and walked up the beach, picking up shells and marveling at the size of the waves. We had a delicious breakfast at M & J. I had a cazuela and Gerald had eggs and toast. I love their pineapple juice, but most of all I love their view. On one side, you have a stunning ocean view and on the other side, some of the best moped watching in town. I love to watch people cruise by on that curve, sometimes four to a moped. And, admittedly, I just love that curve of road. After a couple of margaritas we fly down it in the golf cart and it’s almost like a roller coaster. I laugh like a little kid every time.(More on that later.) We decided that the day would be best spent at the beach and headed to Playa Norte. We chose two chairs with an umbrella in front of Maria del Mar and spent a lovely morning lounging and enjoying total relaxation. I love to go out in the ocean and just sit and look at my island. I try to memorize it. We read, bought pepitos from Maria, drank pina coladas and had a fabulous time. A couple had built a pretty sandcastle. Sometime in the middle of the afternoon we decided to switch to the pool.

We ordered food from Buho’s (our hotel staff will run out and pick up and serve to you at the pool). Media Luna had greatly improved on their pool scene since last year. Nice chaise lounges with white cushions and tables with white umbrellas were scattered around the turquoise pool. We noshed on ceviche, chicken nachos and the heavenly coconut ice cream that was to become our addiction for the week and chatted with some fellow travelers. Where is my cabana boy? Feeling tired from the efforts of lounging all day, (I know…don’t ya love it?) we adjourned to our room and fell into a deep sleep. So deep, in fact, that we slept for about four hours. When our eyes popped open it was dark. Feeling frightened that we missed dinner (No!!!) we showered and dressed and rambled down to Hidalgo. Fayne’s was hoppin’ and the food smelled great. We said hi to Sergio and he showed us to a table. Sean Connery (or someone who looked a lot like him) was sitting behind Gerald eating at Amigos. ] We did our best Connery-as-James-Bond imitations and dubbed his date ‘Miss Dinero-peso’. We wondered what sort of international affair was about to take place on Isla. OK…we’d had a couple of drinks (shaken, not stirred) and were having fun. I had coconut shrimp with mango sauce and Gerald had something, too. I don’t remember what it was, but I’m sure he liked it. We strolled home slowly (note the hotel is now referred to as ‘home’) and met a most interesting local. A hermit crab about four inches long was crossing the street downtown. I made the executive decision that he would be much better off on the beach, so we took him with us. I hoped that he had not been headed downtown to rendezvous with 007. Mr. Hermit Crab tried to crawl out of his shell and grab onto my hand several times on the way, but when I tapped my fingernail against his shell, he ducked back in. Be cool, dude. Safe on the sand, he scurried off, like he had somewhere to go. Maybe he did. I know I did. We went upstairs and went back to sleep. Thus ending another perfect day in paradise. DAY THREE – Hovering above Isla It’s golf cart day!!! Gerald woke up earlier than I did again and we started a nice routine of him bringing me coffee to the room that would continue for the rest of the trip. Maybe for the rest of our lives!? We dressed and walked around town, perusing a breakfast venue. We decided on CafĂ© Cito and took a table next to the window. Gerald ordered eggs and toast and I ordered pancakes. Gerald GOT eggs and toast and I got a soft boiled egg. Oh well…it was good anyway and I’m a sucker for those cute little cups they come in. Gerald was kind enough to share his potatoes and toast with me. We walked over to El Sol to rent a golf cart and headed south in our cool ride, looking for adventure. We drove down to the south end and stopped to take pictures of the postcard perfect view. We looked up and wow…the observation tower was up and running! We had never seen it running before and had been told that there was not enough electricity on the south end of the island to run it, but there it was. We drove over to investigate and sure enough…it was open for business, well, as soon as the lady who sells the tickets gets here. (I love Mexico.) They let us wait inside the circle that goes up the tower, which was mercifully air conditioned. A few minutes later, we were sold ticket for $9 US each. A little pricey, but how could we resist the bird’s eye view? The enclosed circular seating area rose above the island and turned as it rose. We were the only ones aboard. The view was fantastic! We could see all the way to the north end and the color of the water was gorgeous! We took lots of pictures as we spun above the island and then came back to earth. We thanked everyone and headed off on our golf cart. We toured the island, but after a while it was so hot that we decided that nothing sounded better than a trip to the pool. I could almost feel the steam rising as I slipped into the water. Ahh. We camped out in chaise lounges and were too lazy to move for quite a while. I think that this is the day that we met our ‘pool friends’. We were lucky enough to share a hotel and pool with some of the nicest people. There was Herb and Joyce, from Wisconsin, who were lots of fun and always good for a laugh. And there was Steve, Nikki, and their son, Clayton, from Indiana. Steve, Nikki and Clayton were the sentinels of the pool. Almost every time we went out to the pool, they were there with a friendly and welcoming manner and an interesting tidbit about Isla or a restaurant recommendation. Steve even shared his birthday cake with us after we sang what could only be described as the most pathetic rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ in history. It was fantastic tres leche cake, especially when eaten in the pool.

Steve, Nikki and Clayton from Indiana

Herb and Joyce from Wisconsin
I had ‘met’ Tanya from MN on an Isla website message board a couple of weeks prior to the trip and we had made plans to meet up with her and her friend, Cindy, that evening at Sergio’s at sunset. We arrived at Sergio’s a bit before sunset and set about to get a head start on those pina coladas. Gerald took some gorgeous pics as the sun went down, but alas…no Tanya and Cindy. We figured they got busy, no biggee, so we drank a couple for them and jumped on our golfcart and headed out in search of dinner.
We decided on the French Bistro which was fantastic and a super good deal. I had fish and Gerald had shish k bob. Even the wine was delicious. After that, we strolled downtown, just as the celebration was starting. It was the festival of Isla Mujeres’ 154th Anniversary. Many Islenos had come downtown for the fun. The older ladies were coming out of church, dressed in traditional white dresses and everyone was dressed up in their finest and piled on mopeds. The ice cream shop was hoppin’; children frolicked in the square, and tourists jockeyed for position as the action started. A slide show of the history of Isla was shown (I wish I knew what they were saying!), there was lots of dancing and Miss Isla Mujeres was crowned. She was beautiful!!! It was so much fun and we felt honored to be a part of it. Finally, we wandered home and collapsed. DAY FOUR – Lazy days of Isla When we awoke, we headed up the beach toward M & J’s. I had the Mayan eggs, which were great, but my fave there is still the cazuela. Gerald had eggs and toast. We both enjoyed a huge glass of ice cold frothy pineapple juice. While we dined, two ladies came up and sat at the table next to us. Gerald leaned over to me and said ‘I wonder if that’s Tanya and Cindy?’ (The girls we were supposed to meet up with the night before). Almost immediately after he said that, we overheard Cindy order a ‘soda’. Now…we’re from Texas, so first of all, we call it a coke, not a soda. (Y’all know the way it is: "You want a coke?" "Sure" "What kind?" "A Dr. Pepper".) All fizzy things are coke down South, just as all tissue is Kleenex. It was not only the fact that she said ‘soda’ that tipped us off, but the way she said it. "Sooda". Like "Minnesoota". (Please know that this is all in fun. I have an old friend from MN that I tease a lot. She makes fun of my ‘drawl’. Like I have one!!!) I looked over at them and said "Tanya?" She immediately knew who I was and we hugged and it was so funny! Isla karma. We were going to meet somehow! We took pictures by the turtle sculpture and talked and then said goodbye. We knew we would run into them again.
We returned the golf cart and decided to do a bit of shopping before we headed back. With the heat (this was the hottest I had ever seen it on the island), we figured we would be doing our shopping in short spurts this time. I wanted to go to the Silver Factory because jewelry does make the best souvenir, and it’s air-conditioned. I found a gorgeous silver bracelet that looks like braided ice crystals and a really pretty turquoise and silver pendant to go on my silver collar necklace that I got last year. We went down Hidalgo and Gerald bought some shorts and I bought a sarong and some sandals for the poor girls at my office who were doing my job at the time. I also bought some head bobbing turtles. They rock. That was all the shopping we could stand, so we went back to the pool.
We lounged, drank beer and water, read, visited with the pool crowd and relaxed into the afternoon. After a hard day of relaxing I figured I needed a massage. This is going to sound horrible, but truly, my hips were sore from the chaise lounges and from being so lazy. Our hotel manager, Wizar (super nice guy ) arranged to have Manuel the masseuse come to our room for my massage. He was great. Very professional and very good at massage. I was a total vegetable and slunk back down to the pool. After a while we went back to our room for naps and spent some time hanging out on our balcony, soaking up the view. Dinner that night would be at Casa O’s. We took a cab down and got there just in time for sunset. We were the only people there and we sat out on the deck where the view is unmatched. Even Cancun looks good from here. Our waiter brought us a bottle of Auton (spelling?) bug repellant to keep mosquitos away and Lynn, the owner came by to help us spray down. Now, that’s service. If you’ve never met Lynn, she is the sweetest soul. She and her husband, Tom and the ubiquitous poodle, Chico were all there that night and they took a table next to us. A few minutes later, Ellyn and her friend waltzed in and sat down. They said they had overheard us talking about Casa O’s at the pool and thought it was a good idea. We ended up all having drinks, laughing and hanging out forever. Their Cadillac margaritas ROCK. We shared a taxi back with Ellyn and her friend and concluded another perfect day. DAY FIVE – Exploring and Beach Hopping Golf cart day again!! We got up early (kinda) and had breakfast at a new place. Well, it was new to us. It was near our hotel and I believe it was called Jammin’. It was very good and they had the ceiling fans on high, which was great. We bargained for a golf cart and took off down the island. We went to Playa Tiburon and hung out there. It was quiet and not crowded so we laid on the beach and had drinks. We drove around looking at houses and dreamed of buying one. We arrived at Playa Lancheros just in time for lunch. It was fairly crowded with locals mostly, but everyone was having fun. We cooled off in the ocean and then grabbed a table and ordered tic n xic. Gerald got us two mojitos from the Cuban stand. They were awesome! After about ¼ of the drink I started getting a nice little buzz and thought to myself "I’m gonna have two of these!". At the halfway point I thought "Maybe we can split a second one". Three-fourths of the way into it I thought "I’m good". That's one big Mojito!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The food was delicious and we picked the bones clean like a couple of sharks (or a couple of really buzzed people) on a feeding frenzy. Before After! Two local girls came by our table. They had been swimming in their clothes and they were so cute. They asked us for pesos and we asked if we could take their picture. Fair trade, I thought. They had very sweet smiles. A herd of Cancun Cattle with their telltale neon wristbands was being rounded up onto a boat. We felt smugly superior and glad they were leaving as we finished the last of our mojitos and waved bye bye and said under our breath in pretend disgust, ‘Daytrippers’. . After lunch we headed to Hacienda Mundaca. We had stopped by the grocery store on our way out of town that morning and bought grapes to feed the monkeys. Walked around the grounds and looked at the crocs and iguanas and fed some grapes to the deer. (note: very mosquito-y there, take repellant) The monkeys were fantastic. They were very sweet and gentle and would take the grapes right out of our hands. We shared our grapes with a family from LA (no, we didn't feed them, they also fed the monkeys) and I was really glad that I had some wet wipes in my bag to rid us all of monkey cooties after the feast. We took our stuff back home and headed over to Playa Norte with just our towels, a few pesos, and a room key around Gerald’s neck. And a float. We grabbed the float and headed out to sea. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it. We talked and floated and smooched and observed the beach and all from a different perspective. It was so relaxing and cool and we enjoyed the sunset in a new way.
We relaxed at Buho’s, for coconut helados and people watching. Then, we dressed and went to dinner at Casa O’s again. Since we had heard about ‘taxi drivers stealing gas’ in that area at night, Gerald was prepared (Eagle Scout). He wrapped a cable lock around the golf cart seat so it couldn’t be lifted up. We had another wonderful and romantic meal. Lynn made us promise to come back again next year for our anniversary. No problem! We left Casa O’s and got almost back to town and lo and behold.....we ran out of gas. Now, I am convinced that the golf cart people don’t give you much gas and blame it on the taxi drivers. Being the shy person that I am, I jumped in the road and flagged down the first golf cart that I saw coming. It was two young local guys and they said they’d be happy to take us back to town and drop us off at Jax. We used the cable lock to chain the cart to a tree and took off. These guys were so nice, I asked if they would come in Jax with us and we could buy them a drink and they declined. They wouldn’t even take some ‘gas money’ for their trouble. They waved and went on their way. We hung out at Jax for a bit and walked home. DAY SIX- Think you’ve seen lazy? Check this out When we returned the missing golf cart (you guessed it!) they blamed it on taxi drivers stealing the gas. We told them that we had it locked down and they didn’t really know what to say. They took us to where the cart was and retrieved it and we were done. No mas carts from El Sol.
Back to Playa Norte before it gets too hot. We’re much more careful this time with our sunblock. We laid around in lounge chairs under umbrellas and had some pina coladas (they’re fruity, so they’re breakfast food, right?) and pepitos. We enjoyed hanging out in the water and reading and basically doing nothing -- but doing it Isla style.
Around lunchtime, we headed back to Playa Media Luna and being so exhausted from our busy morning, took a rest. We dragged ourselves down to the pool and ordered lunch poolside.
Our hotel will go pick up food from Buho’s and serve it to us poolside or in our room. I don’t think there’s an extra fee, but we always tip, of course. We had ceviche, chicken nachos and coconut ice cream and I start to believe that I could actually live like this forever. We talked with our friends around the pool, did our daily comparing of notes – where did you eat? What did you do?. Tried to explain to Steve where the Pharmacia was that sold us the magic cream for heat rash. He went there and said they claimed to have never heard of it.
Ellyn from next door in the bungalows called me over. She had her gardener cut down coconuts and had a fresh glass of coconut milk for me. I was feeling very spoiled about this time. As a storm moved in, we told ghost stories in the pool and laughed a lot with our friends. The storm moved around Isla and headed for Cancun. Ha Ha. We had a very lazy day at the pool and went back upstairs for a nap. (Okay...no, we don’t really sleep that much, we were on our honeymoon and I’m not going to go into all the details, but didn’t want y’all to think we have some sort of sleeping sickness) We emerged later from our room and wandered downtown, deciding on Amigo’s for dinner. Our friends from the pool, Nikki, Steve and Clayton were dining there also.
I don’t remember what we had, but it was very good and so were the prices. I do remember that I had some sangria that was delicious. After dinner we walked around town for a while. While walking down by the town square, we noticed a giant pink and white paper maiche clam shell. It was open and had a seat in it. I’m sure it was used in the Isla Anniversary Celebration show earlier that week. I couldn’t resist such a fabulous photo opportunity and sat in it, giving my best smile and pageant wave while Gerald snapped pictures. I am Miss Isla!!! Worship me!
We kept walking around for a while and stopped by Jax’s for a couple of mango margaritas. One of the bartenders, who was not on duty that night decided that it was his goal in life to buy us as many shots of tequila as we could handle. He was having such a fun time, he was wearing ‘Shrek’ ears and was pretty lit. He told us that he, too, had just gotten married. As we left and thanked him for the drinks, he stopped us and as he stood on the top of the stairs, we stood at the bottom. He asked me ‘Do you love him?". I answered, "Yes!". He asked Gerald, "Do you love her?". Gerald answered, "Yes". Shrek went on the give us a mini sermon about love and it was so touching and so funny, it was like a wedding ceremony! It was so Isla.
We strolled home giggling. It was another leisurely and wonderful day. Unfortunately, it was our final night. We left the next day, trying to keep that ‘Isla feeling’ amidst a blur of airports and traffic. It was another soul recharging trip to our island and the honeymoon of my dreams. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to be married to the man of my dreams, as well. We waved goodbye to Isla as we boarded the ferry, a little sadder to have to leave it again and a little happier that we had been there at all. Knowing in our hearts that we would be back soon.

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