Day 8, Sunday morning and we are heading to Isla Mujeras from Vallodolid. It feels like we are heading home. We let the kids sleep in until 8:00 AM this morning had breakfast and took the payway to Cancun. We left by 9:30 and supposed to meet the Econocar rep at the Grand Puerta at 11:15. There was one toll booth to pass and the fee was 204 pesos (no wonder no one drives on this road). I was a little nervous because of the army guy sitting in the back of a jeep with a machine gun on a stand with a ribbon of bullets, finger on the trigger pointed right at us. Now he was looking the other way not really paying us any attention but I think that made it worse. I really wanted a picture but just did not want to take any chance of startling anyone. But anyway 204 peso or 240 peso I could not concentrate and just gave the 240 and did not wait for any change, receipt or gracias,… nada. I just wanted out from harms way. I kept wondering if the toll collector ever worries about an accidental or worse real confrontation with drug runners and a shoot out. We continued on our way to Cancun an occasional car or semi but mostly bicycles along the side of the road in the jungle gathering wood to barter or cook with. I think the bicycles use the road more than autos do. We missed our turn off that was the indirect route to the ferry but was considered faster and less confusing because you would be avoiding heavy traffic. But it was Sunday morning so rather than turn around we went straight through and although a little confusing we made it to the ferry at 11:16.
There was a lot of construction going on with the new parking garage for the Puerta and everything was a mess. I was thinking how and where am I going to spot someone from Econoccar? I passed slowly by the make shift drop off turned around and then I hear a car honking behind me and it is the car rental rep Jorge. You just got to love Mexico don’t you. I stop in front of the drop off for the ferry and we hurriedly grab all our bags as we are blocking traffic. He does a quick walk around the car, checks gas gauge, hands me back copy of CC paper from the week before and we are on our way. All went very smooth.. We did just miss the 11:30 ferry but now we had time to use those nice clean restrooms have a celebratory cerveza as we closed out the first leg of our trip and anticipate how soon we will really be back on Isla.
As we approached Isla we got a little nervous as we see a lot of construction, the new naval base building and it appears a fishing festival going on. What has happened to our island? We reminisced about our first overnight trip to Isla back in the early 90’s. On that trip Cat from “Travelfrom” had arranged our travels. We were going down for a week over New Years and staying at Crytstal Mar. Mark Jr (absent from this trip) was 16, Jillian was 7 and it was Aaron’s 3rd birthday and Jaclyn was not around yet and would not be until a Jimmy Buffet Concert a year or so later (but that is another story) Thankfully Tina’s folks were also along with us. Our driver had just dropped us off at the old puerta (Puerta Juarez) and the ferry’s were done running for the day but Cat had arranged to have a water taxi scheduled to shuttle us across. Our water taxi was a small fishing boat, no life jackets and no lights. We had packed life jackets for the kids and so off we went. The captain looked 13 and his first mate (his girlfriend or sister) was a little younger but he did bring a little pen light that he tied to a cross bar that held the canvas roof. However the way that he tied it had it shining in his eyes and he had to shield his eyes all the way across. After we got started we realized why he needed the extra person and that was to keep bailing out the water from the bottom of the boat. We saw the Cancun lights getting smaller and the lights from Isla getting closer. We feel all is well until I notice the boy shaking the gas can checking how much is left. I am thinking check the gas at the beginning or a 1/4 of the way across but half way…what good is that? We do get to a pier but it is not the pier we remembered from our day trip to Isla several months earlier. This pier is long and dark and there is no town around. But he drops us off, puts our luggage on the deck and off he goes. We spoke little Spanish and they no English so little words were exchanged. We our dragging our luggage and children along the pier towards the shore and we figure he must have dropped us off at our hotel Crystal Mar. It was a beautiful starry warm night and just as we were about to step onto the sandy beach a bell boy pops out of the ocean. I kid you not! I guess he was night swimming I do not know. But he helped us with our luggage and got us to the front desk. It was at that moment that I feel in love with Mexico especially Isla de Mujeras. Anyway back to 2008, the more times change the more it stays the same. A festival is going on, the street and beach is crowded but as the ferry unloads the bellboy is there with the tricycle to help move our luggage to our new home at the Nautibeach Condo’s.
Our room #2 at Nautibeach was not going to be ready until later in the afternoon. The grounds were beautifully manicured, the pool was crystal blue overlooking an even more crystal bluer ocean. The staff was very friendly and allowed us to keep our luggage in the office as we enjoyed the beach and pool. This was our first stay at Nautibeach and we could feel it was a good choice.
Later that afternoon we got our room and enjoyed a late lunch early dinner at Bally Hoo. The kids feasted on shrimp and I enjoyed the fish tacos. We checked out the festival (our third one in three different towns on three consecutive days) where some of the fishermen were cooking their fish right on the beach. We walked into town to hit the grocery store and had some ice cream from”cool”. We noticed the malecon (sea walkway) was finally repaired and looks beautiful. It was great to be back on Isla de Mujeras.