Isla is the first place in Mexico that I've ever gone to more than once. There is soooo much to see in Mexico, so many incredible adventures to have - that my partner and I feel like we want to explore. However....that was before I went to Isla for the first time in March of 2004. I love the combination of solitude and community that Isla can give you. I am a country person at heart who has lived in some biggg cities and love to visit them. (or it could be vice versa..) In Mexico, however, I don't really like being IN a city and I get bored if I am just laying at a beach after a week.... On Isla - you have several communities with lots of action if you wish - you can go to restaurants, cafes, visit shops, talk to locals, learn the language and also be surrounded by the natural world - all on one island. Right now Isla is a good bet for a pretty safe, affordable and interesting vacation on a tropical isle. So much of vacation time is spent trying to figure out where to go and what to do (unless you are vegetating at a resort - which is not my cup of tea). But on Isla...(and thanks in part to all the participants on the message boards)because of its size and the fact it is finite, you can figure all this out in a fairly short period of time and just really....just enjoy yourself - it's like a no brainer!!! Then you can ramp up your expectations or your experiences as you choose. This time we explored a bit more than the last time. I love walking in the Colonias - looking, listening, smelling and smiling.
Accomodation: Staying at Punta Piedra was perfect for us (2 women and a teenager) as we took two units and had plenty of space both inside and outside to do whatever we wanted and needed to do.
The units are very well appointed - so we were all set up.I jumped into that small pool about a hundred times a day and we really enjoyed shelling on the beach or just sitting on a rock with my feet in the water...those of you who have stayed there, probably even know the rock I'm talking about!! Amy and Luis were great and it was nice to see their ever-growing baby boy and the dogs were well behaved also!!
FOOD: I love shopping at the grocery store and buying pastries every day for our breakfast of fruit and sweets, coffee and fresh juice. We bought lunch food (avocados, cheese, mangoes, bolillos, ham, chips, drinks) at the supermarket also.
We were at the square on Sunday night and ate a bunch of those very inexpensive tacos -- just the way they should be - fresh and hot (with all those condiments) - next time, I just got to make it to that darn baseball field!!
Highlights were LaLomita - very fresh and tasty food, not a fancy place but we felt it was the best food of our trip! We ate at the market one morning for breakfast - also very good. We ate at Pizza Rolandi's our first night because we wanted easy - and it was a pretty good pizza. Picus was great - ceviche and the grilled fish were outstanding and the best guacamole of the trip. (we tried about 8 different ones....)
Manolos was fine - nothing spectacular. Poc Chuc was super - I love that place - good prices and very fresh food.
I drink limonada(?sp) every where I go (unless its a beer) and enjoyed the variations.
For a treat, we stopped at Cafe Aluxes and had their very yummy cinnamon buns (with apple) and a chocolate cake and an iced latte and .....expensive but a nice treat and heck, we are on vacation!!!
Shopping: that great little clothing store on the street that runs parrallel to Hidalgo that sells all white cotton clothing -- cute things - very good prices. Went to the artisan market for the first time to do our shopping for friends. We both bought items at the wonderful mask store on Hidalgo - I bought an Aztec dog with an ear of corn in its mouth for our garden (a new watch dog!) and my friend bought a wonderful mask. I also went back to the silver store just past the supermarket and bought an outrageous pair of earrings that I've already gotten lots and lots of compliments about and a cool mayan etched earring for my mono-eared sweetie at home.
OTHER STUFF: After several frustrating attempts at using payphones to call to the u.s, my friend went to DigaMe with great success - airconditioned AND efficient - highly recommended. We went to north beach twice I think - staying between Buhos and NaBalaam under the palm trees. It was a little stinky a few days near the water - don't know why but I really enjoyed that calm shallow warm water. For swimming, however, I like going to Garrefon Castilla because you can get into deeper water easier and quicker. We had a little lunch there, which was fine. It was just tooo hot to hike up to El Pueblito (although I missed it greatly this time...)
Tranportation: On the island, we took taxis and the bus when it showed up at the right time. Taxis are so plentiful and cheap if you are sharing, it was hard NOT to take one. Plus, we enjoyed nearly every driver and he always challenged our spanglish....At one point, my friend unfortunately told a driver that she was "very spicy today"...I think he was very impressed. Another time, she needed a ride to PPI and then right back uptown because she went to cash a traveller's cheque, had already signed it and realized she didn't have her passport!! Anyways, she inadvertently told the driver that she wanted to go to PPI and then "turn the town upside down" -- instead of "returning to town"....
We used Best Day for pick up - which went fairly seamlessly and was only $25.00 or so....On the way back, we went to the taxi stand at the ferry terminal and got in the car of a driver who pointed at the sign that said it would be $20.00 (200 pesos) to get to the airport. When we got there he said it was 400 pesos!! (he said, because the sign was only for two people in the taxi, whereas we were three people) We argued with him and did not pay more than $20.00 - this was our only off note so just make sure you get all the info before you take off because it was kind of upsetting to argue with him about fairness.)
In final, I think Isla is a super destination spot for lots of different kinds of people. We are easily pleased, low key, not much into partying, like learning new things and we were happy. We met a few boarders - Barb and Joanne and Tim on their honeymoon (well...Barb wasn't actually ON their honeymoon with them!@#) This was my best friends first trip to Mexico and before we were gone, we were planning the next trip! Isla may change - change is only inevitable -- just like it is where we all live - but meanwhile - it's a fun place to enjoy the warmth of the sun, the incredible turqoise of the water and the humour, patience and rich culture of the Islenos...thanks to them for sharing it with us!!!