I am reposting a 2005 trip report because I am in a nostalgic mood. My first trip to Isla was in 1987 ( a day trip from Cancun with my kids), I returned as a solo traveler in 2000. This is the story of hubbys first trip.
Hubby meets Isla
I was wearing my turquoise shorts, lemon yellow T-shirt and putting on my pink Red Sox cap, when Donald said “do those colors go together?” He’s not usually the fashion police, but I answered “Babe, look out the window, we’re on Isla Mujeres.”
These were our views from the balcony at Sabina’s Apartments on Juarez. I was returning for my fourth trip to Isla, bringing my husband (formerly known as the “Mexico-Phobe”) for his first visit. I had such fears that he would say “Is that all there is?....” and not understand why Isla is such a special place for me. Many women I have met on the island travel there alone because their husbands have not made the same connection with “the island of women”, and I had resigned myself to the possibility that I might one of those solo travelers. But as the hummingbirds visited the aloe on the neighboring balcony morning and evening and the school children trudged down the street early every day, the magic began to capture my partner also. Most mornings, we would walk around the corner to Capitan Tony’s to see if, once again, there was too much wind for hubby’s coveted fishing trip. The trip never materialized because of March’s “mucho vento”. But when I heard Donald promise his new friend the Capitan that we would do it next year, I knew he was hooked. The man who had worried about what he could eat safely was soon happily chowing down at Chiles Locos, Cazuela M&J, and our favorite romantic courtyard at Manolo’s, not to mention on the addictive sugarcoated ham turnovers at San Francisco Supermercado.
He was moved to embarrassed tears by the little boy with leg braces walking to school daily. When friends I have made in previous visits greeted me with warm, clear recognition, even though I only stay for two weeks each March, he began to understand my connection to this special place.
No, it wasn’t a totally blissful introduction: numerous near face plants from neglecting to watch his step, frustration with a new language, new currency, new customs and taboos - Thou shalt not flush, etc. Then there was the refusal to dine on rotisserie chicken after he saw the “raw ingredients” being delivered from the back of an open pickup truck - just plucked, no ice, no cover... Oh, and the cockroach the size of a Matchbox car. Despite these hitches, he warmed to Isla because, more than the color of Mexico, it is the people that draw me back. And I’m not the only visitor who feels this way.
People bring fire trucks! People bring wheelchairs, and clothing, and books, medical and vet supplies. And they take home friendship.
At a certain anonymous program which meets above the basketball/volleyball/pickup soccer court in the Zocalo, I have made dear friends, now they are Donald’s companeros also.
Since I speak only a little Spanish, I resort to sign language and “Spanglish” a lot, but I usually manage to communicate. The Verduras Lady graciously allowed me to photograph her.
At the zoo, Diego introduced himself to us and offered to show us the animals. He was an enterprising young man missing one shoe. Donald thought this was probably a clever marketing tool. Nevertheless, he did a good job and pointed out something we would have missed - five nests in the crocodile enclosure. We ended our tour at the monkey cage and gave Diego a generous tip.
Because I spent too much time as a sometimes over anxious tour guide, I did miss some needed beach reading, hammock swinging, and chatting with the Playa Sol Professional Tanning Association. My usual vegging out time was shorter than I’d like. We did side trips to Playa del Carmen, Ixcaret and Chichen Itza. They were great, but my heart belongs to Isla.
Our last three days were spent at Punta Piedra
reconnecting with Amy and meeting the strapping young Baby Luis who was just an unexpected potentiality on my last visit. We are now booked there for two solid weeks next March.